Wednesday, May 26

The humility and gentleness of Christ

Scripture: 2 Samuel 21-22, 2 Corinthians 10

2 Corinthians 10:1 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!

Observation

Paul writes to defend his ministry, particularly his authority.  He begins in a most unusual manner, appealing “by the humility and gentleness of Christ.”  Not the authority and power of Christ, although he could have appealed by those, but the humility and gentleness of Christ.  No doubt Paul was thinking of Jesus’ words to His disciples:

Mark 10:42–44 “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

“Not so with you.”  Jesus came as a servant—humble and gentle—rather than as a ruler, lording it over and exercising authority.  Paul will defend his ministry in that same spirit: humble and gentle.

“Humility” is the Greek word prautes, which is usually translated meekness.  In English, meekness usually suggests weakness.  However, there is no hint of that in the Greek.  It is a powerful word that suggests strength under control, power that is reined in.  It refers to one who is not “overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance.”  A person is meek when they know who they are and don’t have to impress or overpower.  

“Gentleness” is the Greek word epiekeia, and means “the quality of making allowances despite facts that might suggest reason for a different reaction; clemency, gentleness, graciousness, courtesy, indulgence, tolerance.”  You are gracious when the circumstances call for a harsh response.  You under-react when you could easily over-react.

What is striking is that Paul uses these words to describe Jesus.  God in the flesh has revealed Himself to be humble and gentle!  Not what we expected!  Paul wants to lead as Jesus did, with grace, restraint, gentleness and humility.

Application

There are so many opportunities each day to rein in my natural responses of selfishness, self-promotion, self-defense, self-aggrandizement…you get the picture.  These words (humble and gentle) are the opposite of self.  Yet they are not weak, but strong—strength under control, power reined in.  I want to respond like Jesus to difficult people and difficult situations, not by powering up and being overbearing, but by calmly and confidently doing the right thing.

I want to be more like Jesus: humble and gentle.  Selfless.

Prayer: Lord, I can’t do this on my own!  I need You!  Please fill me today with the Holy Spirit and live Your life in me.  Make me more like You.