Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. Matthew 11:29
In November 1742, a riot broke out in Staffordshire, England, to protest against the gospel message Charles Wesley was preaching. It seems Charles and his brother John were changing some longstanding church traditions, and that was too much for many of the townsfolk.
When John Wesley heard about the riot, he hurried to Staffordshire to help his brother. Soon an unruly crowd surrounded the place where John was staying. Courageously, he met face to face with their leaders, speaking with them so serenely that one by one their anger was assuaged.
Wesley’s gentle and quiet spirit calmed an angry mob. But it wasn’t a gentleness that occurred naturally in his heart. Rather, it was the heart of the Savior whom Wesley followed so closely. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). This yoke of gentleness became the true power behind the apostle Paul’s challenge to us: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
In our humanness, such patience is impossible for us. But by the fruit of the Spirit in us, the gentleness of the heart of Christ can set us apart and equip us to face a hostile world. When we do, we fulfill Paul’s words, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).
Why does today’s culture see gentleness as weakness? How is gentleness actually strong?
Dear God, remind me that Jesus displayed a heart of gentleness and compassion to His adversaries.
As believers in Jesus, Paul told us we’re to live differently from nonbelievers. Our lives are to be holy—set apart and devoted to God (Ephesians 4:20–24). Our speech is to be characterized by words that are truthful and that help, edify, build up, encourage, and benefit others (vv. 25, 29). Through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, we’ll put away unwholesome and abusive language, along with bitter, angry, harsh, slanderous, or malicious words (vv. 29–31). How we forgive others is the defining virtue of believers in Jesus. We’re to forgive as God has forgiven us (v. 32; Colossians 3:13). The evidence that we’re forgiven by the Father is when we’re willing to forgive others, for the forgiven believer in Jesus is a forgiving person (Matthew 6:12, 14–15; 18:21–35; Luke 7:36–50).