#306 Message- Live Life At Its Best VIII- Gentleness (07/10/07)

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Music

" Blessed be the Name "
"Christ Be Beside Me"

" THE HILLIARD DARBY H.S. SYMPHONIC CHOIR - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"
"THE HILLIARD DARBY H.S. SYMPHONIC CHOIR - "All That Hath Life and Breath"

DAVID PHELPS – “God Will Take Care of You”

The Message

Message by: Robert H. Schuller

You have only one life to live, why live it on the mediocre level? Commit yourself to excellence. Get what is good and the best out of life. How do you do that? I've never heard any wiser advice that, in my opinion, sums it up better than the words of St. Paul in Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." Those words could comprise a great book with nine powerful chapters. Never before has a philosopher, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist put together more impacting nine qualities to help us live life at its best, because they give peak emotional health and wholeness. It is sad that many parts of the educational system have been designed in the past century to try to educate emotion out of people. For intelligence to be achieved, the assumption is that there needs to be the minimizing of emotion. They now have come to realize that the human being is first of all, an emotional creature, not an intellectual creature.

The Quality of Gentleness

So here we are in the one Bible verse that can challenge all of us and today my assignment is on the word, gentleness. Do you know of a university that has a course where you can major in gentleness? No! What religion focuses on gentleness? I wish I could say Christianity, but it hasn't focused on gentleness. No religion does. Even though Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you; learn of Me for I am gentle and lowly of heart..." (Matthew 11:29); even though the Holy Bible that we Christians believe in mentions that word gentleness again and again and again, somehow gentleness has gotten lost in our daily focus. We have not been known through history for gentleness. A convert to Christianity went to the person who converted her and said, "You know I've been a Christian for two years and I've been studying the Christian history and I'm acquainted now with the Christian community, I am puzzled. I have to ask you, 'When did the Christians stop being like Jesus was?'"

Jesus was the first and the original gentle giant.

Stop and think for a moment, of how religion came into this civilization, into the world. It started when primitive people were driven by fear. They experienced the earthquake, the floods, the thunder. They became so frightened they created gods, gods of thunder, gods of the sea, and they began to believe that these gods were angry. So to protect themselves, they created a religion and it was a fearful religion.

I'll never forget one of the first times that I traveled through mainland China, Thailand and other Asian countries. My wife and daughters, Carol and Gretchen, were with me and we went to this ancient temple, and there was a circle of idols much larger than human beings in size stationed around the inner court. Their eyes were made of a fluorescent stone, huge, round, bulging, that seemed to follow you wherever you walked. The idols all radiated wrath, not gentleness. That is religion on a primitive level.

The history of religion credits Judaism for ethical monotheism, where God was one God who created us in His image. Mercy and love began to come through this God in the Old Testament, but that wasn't enough. Religion progressed to the coming of Jesus Christ and Jesus was Love Incarnate. "A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34) A new teaching, "Forgive seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:22) Look at these positive emotions that Jesus taught. He invited people to become followers of Him. Jesus Christ brought a new faith of love and gentleness into the world as He said, "Go to all the world and preach this gospel to all creatures. You shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. "Tell people to 'Take My yoke and learn of Me for I am gentle and lowly of heart.'" (Matthew 11:29)

Become a gentle giant!

I want each of us to say in our hearts, "God make me a gentle giant." Because gentleness is the greatest power in the world. Gentleness is the most powerful weapon against violence. Think about that!

What is gentleness? Read the dictionary definition; not harsh, stern, nor violent ... having good manners. It's a variety of words that bring together, tenderness, kindness, goodness; it's really everything that is summed up in this Bible verse, Galatians 5:22. "The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness." And the last word, self control. Yes, even gentleness is something you can control. Nature has its own positive and negative force. Look the raindrop. Listen to the lapping of the wave on the beach. Water is so positive, so gentle... but it can be disastrous. It can become a tidal wave. It could be a flood.
The snowflake, so gentle, so quiet, on a pine tree... but it was the snowflake that caused Napoleon to be defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.

The sun is so cheerfully tender on the skin, and gentle on the face, but it can kill you in the desert. All of life has the potential to be positive or negative. Your emotional system is the same. It can be dominated by gentleness or the opposite, harshness and meanness. Nothing is more beautiful than gentleness. I remember when my first child, Sheila, was born. I was so afraid to hold this little baby. I was afraid that I would hurt her and I experienced a greater degree of gentleness I had not known before.

The Gentleness of God!

When I had a terrible accident in Amsterdam, I came out of a coma 40 hours later in the intensive care unit of the university hospital there. The surgeons had performed brain surgery. Later, they told me I was 20 minutes from being DOA (dead on arrival.) A blood vessel had broken in my brain, but one week later I still couldn't talk, I couldn't communicate, and the doctors couldn't predict how my healing would be. Mrs. Schuller flew to Amsterdam and as she stood at my side, suddenly there was, at the window, three floors above the ground with no tree in sight, a tiny sparrow. It was gently fluttering its wings hovering there long enough for both of us to see it. It was such a gentle message from God! "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me." That's the message we got from a gentle sparrow.

I'll never forget how when I tried to communicate to one of the nurses, and she couldn't understand me, she responded by tenderly stroking my forehead. It was such a gentle gesture. She comforted me in my discomfort. Many years later I was on a mission in Italy. My wife was with me and in the morning she said, "Oh I'm sick, I'm very sick, and in my left arm there is a jabbing pain." I had had a small heart episode a year before, so I had medication with me. I said, "Maybe you are having a heart attack. Take one of these," and I gave not one but two pills to her. The doctor said it probably saved her life because she had a severe heart attack; which resulted in six by-passes. When I called for a doctor at the hotel that morning, the paramedics came with an ambulance and they put her on a cot and were carrying her out. Neither spoke English, but as they put her into the ambulance one of the paramedics stroked her hair. Again, it was a gentle touch from God. She never forgot it.

God¡¦s gentle giants are all over the world.

When Arvella was rolled into the emergency room at the hospital, no one was allowed to enter. But we were on a mission with David Yonggi Cho from Seoul, Korea and when he heard that Arvella was being taken to the hospital, he rushed to the hospital, got there almost immediately, and he burst into the emergency room. He was not allowed to do that. And the Italian doctors told him to get out, but since they spoke Italian and Pastor Cho spoke Korean and English, neither one of them understood each other. So he didn¡¦t leave. Instead he took hold of Arvella's toes and held them gently as he prayed a prayer for her healing. He was thanking God for the doctors who were saving her life. She still remembers that.

Become a gentle giant.

That will change your family, your world, your business. Gentleness should not be looked upon as a weakness, see gentleness as the most powerful weapon in the world. I urge you to look through the Bible and see how many times the word gentleness is mentioned. In Proverbs, way back then, Solomon said, "A gentle tongue breaks a bone." (Proverbs 25:15)

Now most of you have seen, "The Passion of the Christ," and you can also see the Glory of Easter here at the Cathedral until Easter Sunday. It is a powerful performance with hundreds of our talented and dedicated volunteers. You will see the gentleness of Jesus confronting the most non-gentle, harshest, meanest, cruelest kind of assault. Who won? Jesus won! Yes, He is the power that is alive today, calling for you and me to become His gentle followers. "Take My yoke upon Me. Learn of Me for I am gentle and lowly of heart." Wow!

I invite you to choose the positive quality of gentleness instead of harshness. To live life at its best, let the positive emotions dominate your emotional self. We each have bodies of different heights, weight, and genes that we must accept. But we are also emotional creatures, independent and capable of choosing what kind of an emotional self we will be.

How can you be a gentle giant? Understand that you are a communicating creature. And gentleness will be communicated through your personality to those with whom you mingle. Gentleness should be in the words that you use. There are some horrific, angry, uncivil words in the language of our culture today. Listen to some of the talk show people. Listen to some of the newscasters who form a panel and debate. Listen to the politicians. Listen to the congressman, the senators. That¡¦s where gentleness is forgotten.

There's a hunger for gentleness.

Be kind, be polite, and be courteous. Pick your language carefully. Choose the words that are respectful. Gentleness is also in the look. Put gentleness in your look, smiling eyes, a soft and tender face. Think what you look like if you could see yourself in a mirror when you're talking to others. Yes, we need to show gentleness in a look, a word, and a touch. The touch on the shoulder, a touch on the cheek, a touch on the forehead, a touch on the hair. You and I are living in a very conflicted world today and we¡¦ve lost a lot of our gentleness in everyday living. A lot of relationships are brutal; uncouth, crude, and insulting. These are quickly communicated through a sneer or an insult. I'm asking you to join me in a new movement to bring the message of Jesus Christ to a level where it will affect people's behavior so that they will know you are a Christian by your look, by your word, by your touch, by your gentleness. Become a gentle giant.

I remember when I first met Dr. Jampolsky. He illustrated the power of gentleness to convert non-gentle people. He had just become a psychiatrist and he was assigned to a mental hospital in Long Beach, California. One weekend, he was on call and there was an emergency. There was one of the biggest, heaviest, meanest men, a patient loose in his ward. So Dr. Jampolsky went to the hospital and there was a big door with a small thick glass window a half inch thick. He looked through it and inside he could see this wild man running around swinging a piece of wood like a sword. He had ripped it from the door frame and the nurse said, "Dr. Jampolsky, you have to go in there and calm him." And Dr. Jampolsky said, "I can't go in there. He is dangerous." But the nurse said, "I¡¦m sorry. You¡¦re on call this weekend."

So Dr. Jampolsky opened the door a couple of inches, holding his body against it so hopefully the patient couldn¡¦t throw it open and attack him. When the patient came rushing to the door screaming and wielding his weapon, Dr. Jampolski, holding the door firmly, gently said, "Hello. I'm Dr. Jampolsky. I want to come in to talk to you but I¡¦m scared. I'm too scared to come in. By any chance, are you scared too?" The man heard the doctor¡¦s gentle voice, and then looked at Dr. Jampolsky¡¦s kind face and his demeanor changed. He then dropped his weapon and shaking his head, "Yes," he began to cry and Dr. Jampolsky experienced a new truth. He learned the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear. Yes, the gentle touch is the most powerful weapon against fear!

Become a gentle giant.

Listen to Jesus. He's inviting you today to take the kind of faith, the kind of religion that really transforms persons. And He wants you to become a gentle giant, loving but powerful. Strong, but tender. Not intimidated, not manipulated, not coerced, but you are a gentle giant! You make your decisions, you choose your values, and you will be positive and not negative. Then you will be living life at its best!

O God, You're moving me from unbelief to belief. You're moving me to more about a person called Jesus Christ and I need His Spirit. Jesus, come into my life. Impact Yourself into my personality until I become a gentle giant and then I will be a healthy person. Amen.

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