Are you gentle? How would you know? The fruit of the Spirit is seen in the Christian who is gentle. Gentleness, or meekness, is often defined by culture as softness, usually implying weakness. Christians sometimes define it as controlled strength.
But the seventeenth-century Dutch pastor and theologian Wilhelmus à Brakel points us to a description more consistent with the New Testament uses of the term. He observes that the root of the Greek word is “a derivative of the word ‘to transfer,’ ” and thus that the gentle person is one “who readily establishes contact with others and with whom others easily make contact in turn.”
In short, gentle people are approachable people. Meek people have something worth communicating or transferring to the souls of others, and they work to do so. They also know that they need to receive from others, so they are ready to listen.
People know instinctively that the gentle of heart build bridges to transfer the treasure with which they’ve been entrusted. And they sense that it is safe to connect with them in order to receive that treasure. The gentle person keeps lines of communication open; he is approachable, even to opponents or strangers. He is more than just “nice.” Communication is easy, or at least looks easy, for the Christian who has disciplined himself to bear such fruit. Gentle people reach out to others in ways that make others want to reach out to them.
Conversely, what kind of man or woman lacks gentleness? It is easy to see that the loud, insensitive, rough person fails the test of gentleness. But the withdrawn, shy person also fails to qualify as gentle. The work of the Holy Spirit is necessary for each of these souls to become gentle.
A gentle person can relate to all kinds of people. Even when situations are awkward or when difficult matters must be discussed, meek saints leave others knowing that they love them even in the midst of conflict. And that, indeed, requires great strength. Jerry Bridges wrote, “Gentleness is illustrated by the way we would handle a carton of exquisite crystal glasses; it is the recognition that the human personality is valuable but fragile and must be handled with care.”
You Might also like
By Gary Yagel — 5 months ago
For Guys With Kids at Home Invest time with them one-on-one. Jesus appointed the twelve so that they might be with him. Our spiritual heritage is our influence. It requires time. Seek to understand them. Ask questions: What is going on in their world of experiences, feelings, and ideas? Jesus became flesh to enter our world. Empathize with them. Jesus, our High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses. Give them constant affirmation. Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica, You know how, like a father with his children we…encouraged you (vs 2:12). Fill their emotional tank with affection. Jesus rebuked his disciples for thinking that giving his affection to children around him was unimportant (Luke 18:15-16). Teach them the wisdom of God. (Stay tuned for our upcoming September series, “Protecting Our Families from Destructive Cultural Worldviews”).
May I ask, “How much thought have you given to your fathering legacy?” If you are like I was, when first asked this question, your answer is probably “Not very much.” No matter what stage of life we are in, we are probably too busy doing what we need to get done this week to think much about something as nebulous and far away as my fathering legacy. Yet, whether you are on the front end of adulthood or adding great grandchildren to your tribe, it is worth considering how we can make the most strategic investment of ourselves to build a godly heritage because, God, himself, underscores the importance of the spiritual heritage we are to pass on. This episode examines the importance of building a godly fathering legacy and identifies a few practical suggestions about HOW to do it.
Several years ago I was sitting in a Great Dads seminar when the speaker read from Exodus 20: I the Lord your God visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but show steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments (Ex 20:5-6). He remarked, “A father can send the darkness of sin down through the next four generations or send the light of God down to his descendants.” He then pointed to 2 historic examples of these two contrasting choices. In 1874 a man named Richard L. Dugdale was employed by the New York Prison Commission to visit the state prisons. As he visited, he was surprised to find criminals in six different prisons that were all descended from the same family. This led Mr. Dugdale to an exhaustive study of 1200 people who were the progeny of a man to whom he gave the fictitious name, Max Jukes. Dugdale compiled this list of Max Juke’s descendants.
310 of the 1,200 were professional paupers begging others for handouts instead of earning their living—more than one in four.
300 of the 1,200—one in four—died in infancy from lack of protective care and healthy conditions.
50 women lived lives of notorious debauchery.
7 were murderers.
60 were habitual thieves who spent on the average twelve years each in lawlessness.
130 were criminals who were convicted in some way of crime.
A generation later a researcher named A. W. Winship compiled records of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards, a busy author, theologian, pastor, and President of Princeton Seminary. Winship compiled a list of Edwards’ descendants and then decided to contrast the list to the descendants of Max Jukes in the book Jukes-Edwards: A Study in Education and Heredity, published in 1900. In the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards are:
1 U.S. Vice-President
3 U.S. Senators
13 college presidents
80 public office holders
100 missionaries, pastors and theologians.
Here is the point. This did not happen just because Jonathan Edwards was a Christian or because he was a brilliant Christian thinker. Lots of Christians and great theologians have families that are a mess, with their kids wanting nothing to do with Christ or Christianity. What was Edwards secret? He was very intentional. You might say he was devoted not to just being a spiritual hero himself (which he WAS) but being a hero-maker of his children. Every evening before dinner, Edwards gave all eleven of his children his full attention for one hour—to build biblical thinking into their hearts. Understanding that leadership IS influence, when he could, he took one of his children with him—building his relationship with each one while he traveled. When Edwards died, his wife, Sarah, commented to her daughter, “Oh what a legacy my husband and your father has left us.” God’s intention is for every Christian father to build a godly spiritual heritage that he passes on to his descendants. Let’s do an overview of Scripture to see how important this concept really is:
A. In Genesis 17:7, the covenant that God made with Abraham, whom Paul tells us is the father not just of the Jews but of the Christian faith, involved a commitment not just to Abraham, BUT TO HIS POSTERITY: I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. Though Abraham was saved by faith, GOD’S covenant commitment was also to Abraham and Sarah’s succeeding generations. A chapter later we discover ABRAHAM’S responsibility in this covenant. God said about Abraham, I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing rightouesness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him (Gen 18:19). As the head of his family, it was Abraham’s responsibility to lead his household to keep the way of the Lord. But throughout Israel’s history, this responsibility gets lost, forgotten, and ignored.
B. After Abraham’s descendants were delivered from 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and completed 40 years of wondering in the wilderness, the Israelites are ready to enter the promised land. Listen to these precise words of Moses, who reiterates this covenant responsibility of parents to pass on their spiritual heritage.
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth (Deut 11:18-21).
C. Joshua then leads the Israelites into the promised land. It appears that Joshua DID PASS ON HIS SPIRITUAL HERITAGE. Living to be 110, he would have known his descendants to the fourth generation. He must have passed on his spiritual heritage because Scripture reports, And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel…..And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. But four generations from Joshua the link was broken. We read, And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers (Judges 2:7-10).
By Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church Session — 1 year ago
While certain forms of so-called “conversion therapy” are clearly, unquestionably to be denounced by the Christian, Canada’s new law intentionally undercuts every biblical mooring for even defining sexuality and gender. Churches in the United States have been called upon this Sunday to stand with our brothers and sisters in Canada whose faithfulness to the Scriptures has now been criminalized. Our session has prayerfully drafted the following statement.
The nation of Canada passed a law, Bill C-4, which went into effect January 7th; it bans all forms of what it calls “conversion therapy” which would seek to change, repress or reduce a person’s same-sex attraction or sexual behavior or their gender identity or expression if it differs from their biological sex. While certain forms of so-called “conversion therapy” are clearly, unquestionably to be denounced by the Christian, Canada’s new law intentionally undercuts every biblical mooring for even defining sexuality and gender. Churches in the United States have been called upon this Sunday to stand with our brothers and sisters in Canada whose faithfulness to the Scriptures has now been criminalized. Our session has prayerfully drafted the following statement:
All rejection of God’s voice involves irony: sometimes subtle; sometimes overt. We, your elders, grieve over the Canadian government’s recent legislation banning all forms of “conversion therapy” as it pertains to sexual deviancies, seeking to make unqualified, unopposed room in that nation for the sins of homosexuality and transgenderism. The deepest irony in this legislation is that the Canadian government’s alleged ban of all forms of conversion therapy actually and arrogantly prescribes conversion therapy upon Almighty God; i.e., the law demands that the eternal Creator of the universe, the Maker of every man and woman and of human sexuality, change his design for his creation in order to suit mankind’s sinful desires. And while seeming humble and open in its treatment of its citizens, the government calls all Christians in Canada to convert to the new societal norm; translate: the only legally opposable view is the one which gets in the way of the new, perverse societal norm. Whereas God created the state to exist in harmony with his church, Canada has criminalized those who seek to live peaceably under the reign of Christ and under the reign of civil government. Upon what basis does the Canadian government make its decree? Evidently upon the basis of “science.” But such heavy-handed “science” quickly discards scientific facts which do not comport with its biased stance.
Though the present manifestation of the Romans 1:18-32 spiral of sexual ethics in the West is deep and dark, any astute observer knows that there are still-deepening, enticing depths into which society can yet descend. If all conversion therapy is outlawed with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity, then where does this project stop? On its own terms, how does said ideology consistently reject, for instance, pedophilia and bestiality? How does it, with internal consistency, reject other forms of confusion and attempts at change which presently remain outside the pale of modern sensibilities? The answer of course is that it does not and cannot. For all the hubris behind our rebellion against God, we lack consistency of expression in our claims because deep down we know that such consistency reduces our claims to intellectual and moral absurdity.
We, your elders, know these tendencies all too well because we speak as fellow would-be autonomous sinners, and as sexual sinners at that. Only by God’s grace, we have sought his divine standard over us in the area of sexuality as with all other areas of life, asking the Holy Spirit to search us and know us and to expose our sin before him. God’s Word reveals how far short of his glory we fall. We mourn our own self-willed wisdom which is driven by our sinful passions and we rejoice at God’s converting grace in the wounds of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We call the Canadian government to repentance for its tyranny over Christian consciences under its care, and for its tyrannical and scientifically fatalistic treatment of those trapped in the sins of homosexuality and gender confusion. To those who will seek to lump our concern for God’s law and his Gospel with misguided, dangerous approaches to conversion therapy so that our God-centered concerns can be dismissed, we ask you to listen to our actual words. We join with Christians worldwide in praying for a faithful Christian witness on the part of the church in Canada, and in particular for ministers and church leaders who face persecution and reprisal for being true to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We call all churches who tolerate sexual immorality and who rely on sophisticated, subtle word-smithing to redefine sexual ethics, while still appearing faithful to God’s Word, to repentance. Specifically, we call the Standing Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church in America to repentance for its recent decision which refused to discipline a self-identifying homosexual minister in her bounds. Such Christ-shaming cowardice on the part of this commission, to put it mildly, is of no help to the church in Canada at this time.
We call the western church to repentance for its grossly oppressive view of women through its indulgence of pornography and the ways in which women have often been made the victims of abuse even in allegedly Christian marriages. Surely the fact that the church of Jesus Christ, his very bride, is stained with all manner of ongoing, unrepented of sexual blemishes, in spite of the biblical call that such things not even be named among her, connects to and perhaps even largely explains the sexual chaos so rampant in the culture around us. May we all fall before God in anguish over every expression of sexual sin in our hearts, words and actions.
Further, we call ourselves and all creation to repentance for the idolatrous greed which always interweaves with sexual greed and discontentment. We call for repentance of the violence which often comes in the wake of sexual greed, including rape and murder of both the born and the unborn. In yet another grievous irony, the murder of the unborn in our society has been codified as a right, even assuming the dreadful misnomer, “health care.”
Our holy God’s watching eye is over all of us; he sees through our sin; he sees through our attempts to assuage our consciences as we project our guilt and shame onto others; he sees through our clever sophistry in which we seek to explain, rationalize and hide. Truly to see the guilt and corrupting power of our sin is to understand our need of God’s mercy. We implore the Canadian government to look to Jesus Christ who is a refuge for sinful men and women. He paid for the guilt of sinful legislation and for the guilt of sins of every sort in his blood when he bore away God’s wrath on the cross. As fruit of true repentance and faith, we call on the Canadian government immediately to amend her law in accordance with God’s Word.
We conclude with the centuries-old words of Dutch Reformed Christians whose legacy has blessed Canada for generations; we pray their humble resolve will be true of God’s people there in this present moment, come what may. “They were willing and ready to obey the king in all lawful matters. But…rather than to deny the truth of God’s Word, they would… ‘offer our backs to stripes, our tongues to knives, the mouth to the muzzle, and the whole body to the fire…being ever ready and willing, if it be necessary, to seal [our faith] with our own blood.’” And may all who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake avoid dour, self-righteous dispositions; rather, may you, in the words of our Savior, “rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Lord, have mercy; may his name be praised.
With Sincerity and Prayerfulness,The Elders of Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church – Tampa, FloridaDustyn Eudaly, Senior MinisterSteve Light, Associate MinisterDon Bennett, Ruling ElderDave Brittain, Ruling ElderGregg Fisher, Ruling ElderWink Hall, Ruling Elder
 R. Dykstra & M. Kamps, “Historical Introduction to Guido de Brès’ Letter to King Philip II of Spain,” Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, https://cprc.co.uk/quotes/debresletter/ (accessed 20 January, 2022).
By S.D. Ellison — 2 months ago
Written by S.D. Ellison |
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Hamilton has produced a landmark commentary on the Psalms. It is by no means the last word, but by placing each psalm in its canonical context Hamilton is introducing the wider Christian community into the conversation concerning the Psalter’s shape. Indeed, Hamilton models what preaching the Psalms in their canonical context might look like.
Having completed doctoral work on the Psalter, I am frequently asked to recommend a “go-to” commentary on the Psalms. My answer changes frequently and always carries qualifications. Kidner is Christ-centered but too brief (Psalms, TOTC 15–16 [London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973–1975]. Goldingay is detailed but too reticent to acknowledge messianic impetus (Psalms, BCOTWP [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006–2008]). VanGemeren provides a quality one-volume commentary but is too keen to identify chiasms (Psalms, revised ed., EBC [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008]). deClaissé-Walford, Jacobson and Tanner are helpfully provocative but too frequently suggest emending the MT (Psalms, NICOT [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015]). Hamilton, however, offers a fresh treatment of the Psalms that maximizes all that is good about the above and minimizes—for the most part—all that is not. This is now the commentary I will recommend.
Lexham’s Evangelical Biblical Theology Commentary series endeavors to locate each biblical book within redemptive history and illuminate its unique theological contribution. It claims that the primary contribution of each volume is a “thorough discussion of the most important themes of the biblical book in relation to the canon as a whole” (p. xxvii). Hamilton ably accomplishes this aim. He summarizes the whole commentary this way:
Every individual psalm is a masterpiece, and these individual treasures have been carefully arranged to resonate in relationship to one another, to harmonize when heard together, to echo when their architecture is considered, to reprise and retell as they prophesy and prefigure, and the symphony not only makes its own incomparable music, it sings the story of the rest of the Scriptures as well. (p. xxix)