by: Robert H. Schuller
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
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.
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
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.
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.'"
Become a gentle giant!
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
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.
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!
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.
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
God¡¦s gentle giants are all over the world.
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.
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)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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.