Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Another facet of being a gentle person is to be charitable. One of the Greek definitions of gentleness is being satisfied with less than one’s due. If we are to live so that our gentleness is evident to other people, then we will be charitable, and charity is motivated by being willing to be satisfied with less than we think we deserve. I believe there are three specific areas of application for our lives where we need to be satisfied with less than we think we need.
First, recognition. A gentle person is satisfied with less recognition than they may think they are entitled to. Jesus modeled this, and also taught it to His disciples. In fact, He not only was not recognized for who He was, but He was actually recognized as the opposite, and then killed for it. Jesus allowed Himself to be recognized as a sinner when He was sinless. The reason He did this was that He was living for the glory of another. That’s what gentleness does – it makes us charitable. Stop working so hard for recognition, and start letting God be recognized in you.
The second way to be charitable is in rewards. As I helped my parents get through the difficult days of my mom’s cancer, I was blessed beyond measure to be able to use my skills to accomplish the tasks that needed to be done. During my last trip to their home, on the day I was scheduled to meet a very good friend for a time of recreation on the golf course, I went into the basement and stepped on a water-soaked rug. Upon investigation I discovered the bottom of the gas water heater had rusted out and was spraying water all over the furnace room. I immediately called my friend and cancelled our time together so I could spend the rest of the afternoon installing a new water heater. Of course, the new one was a different design so all of the gas and water lines had to be re-plumbed, but I was up to the task because of previous experience in such matters. When I was all done, my dad tried to give me a check for my work, which I refused. It was nice to be recognized and rewarded, but I was more satisfied with the opportunity to help than with the reward.
Too many times the motivation for our service is the reward. This may even be the case spiritually. It is easy to pump ourselves up to do something for God when we remember that it earns us a reward in heaven, but it should be sufficient motivation to remember His awesome gift of salvation. If God never did another thing for us, what He did on the cross is more than adequate motivation for lifelong service. Stop working so hard for additional rewards when God has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing from heaven.
The third way to be charitable has to do with responsibility. The marketplace of society teaches us that when we are recognized for the work we do, one of the rewards is additional responsibility. We work hard to achieve additional responsibility because we know it will bring additional rewards. Responsibility brings rewards, which bring recognition and greater responsibility – it’s the world’s unbreakable circle of success.
But God has a better and more fulfilling plan. It’s the plan my mother followed. She was given the reward first in her salvation, being recognized by God but having done nothing to deserve it. She accepted the responsibility that went with the recognition and became a servant of Jesus Christ, humbly doing His work without any need for public recognition. She served faithfully alongside dad in small churches, struggling to survive financially raising four children, yet continually sacrificing her own desires for the sake of others. She was a true servant, and deserves to be recognized. But for her, the only recognition that will matter will be when she sees her Savior face to face and He greets her with a heaven-sized hug and the words, “Well done!” Nothing my mom ever did was for earthly rewards or recognition, because she had accepted the responsibility of being a servant who worked for the honor and glory of another. She was satisfied with less than her due in this life because she had her heart and mind fixed on the rewards of heaven.
That’s what it means to let your gentleness be evident to all. But it’s not our gentleness; it’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) We have no gentleness except the character of Christ in us. Let His gentleness be seen in how you live charitably towards others as an offering to your Savior.