You’ve only one life to live, why live it on a mediocre level. Commit yourself to excellence. Get what you can that’s good and the best out of it. And I’ve never heard a single Bible verse that sums it up better, in my opinion, than Galatians 5:22. The fruit of the Spirit, nine words: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Fantastic.
That can make a great book with nine chapters and never before has a philosopher or a psychologist or a psychiatrist put together the nine chapters that make life at its best by giving you peak emotional quotient. We now know that EQ is more important than IQ. And we now know that many parts of the educational system have been designed in the past century to try to educate emotion out of people on the assumption that intelligence is the minimizing of emotion. We now come to realize that’s a bad move because the human being is first of all, an emotional creature, not an intellectual creature.
So here we are in the one Bible verse that can challenge all of us and I’m today up to the second to the last word. The word is gentleness. Wow. Wow. What university has a course where you can major in gentleness, do you know? No university. What religion focuses on gentleness? I want to pause because 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.” Even though the Holy Bible that we Christians believe in comes to that word again and again and again, somehow it got lost in our focus. A convert to Christianity went to the person who converted her and said, ‘you know I’ve been a Christian two years and I’ve been studying Christian history and studying the Christian world, and I have to ask you, when did the Christians stop being like Jesus was?’
We have not been known through history for gentleness. No. Jesus was the first and the original. Wow. Gentle giant. Stop and think for a moment, of how religion came into this civilization, into the world. It started with a primitive people, born in fear the earthquake, the flood, the thunder. Oh. Then they created gods, gods of thunder, gods of wrath. They created a religion and it was a fearful religion. I’ll never forget one of the first times that I went through mainland China, my daughter Carol was with me and my wife and son. At any rate, we went to this one temple, it was an old, old temple, and there were idols, much larger than human beings in size. Their eyes were huge, round, bulging, flaming anger. The whole idol radiated wrath, not gentleness. That was religion on the primitive level.
The history of religion credits Judaism for ethical monotheism where God became one God and He created us in His image. And mercy and love began to come through God in the Old Testament. Yes. And then, it wasn’t enough. Religion progressed to Jesus and Jesus was love incarnate. “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you.” A new teaching: forgive seventy times seven. Look at these positive emotions that Jesus is teaching. Then hear Him again inviting people to become followers of Him. A new faith, a new world when 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 many of you listening to me this morning are going to pick up something, walk out of here and you’re going to in your heart say God make me a gentle giant because gentleness ultimately is the greatest power in the world. I think it was E. Stanley Jones who said that. Gentleness is the most powerful weapon, he said, against violence. Whew. Think that over.
What is gentleness? Well, read the dictionary definition and it’s a variety of words that bring it all together. Its tenderness, its kindness, its goodness, it’s really everything that’s summed in this Bible verse, Galatians 5:22. This is the eighth word, look at the previous words. It’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, it adds up to gentleness. The last word, has to be the last word, it means self-control. Yes, because even gentleness is something that you can control. In nature everything can have a positive or a negative force. Look at water, the raindrop. Listen to the trickle of the wave on the beach. Water is so positive, so gentle. The dripping of the water. But it can be disastrous. It can be a tidal wave. It could be a flood. The snowflake, so gentle, so quiet, on a pine leaf but it was the snowflake that stopped Napoleon from getting into Waterloo. Yeah. The sun, bright and cheerfully tender on the skin, gentle on the face, but it can kill you in the desert. Everything can be positive or negative. Your emotional system can be dominated by gentleness or the opposite: harshness, meanness. But nothing is more beautiful than gentle. Oh, I remember when my first child was born, Sheila, wow. I was so afraid to hold that little bitty baby. So afraid to hold it because I have a gentle nature, believe it or not, but I was afraid that I would hurt the little one.
Gentleness does not always come easy. No. Beautiful, I remember when I had that terrible accident in Amsterdam. I woke up after I don’t know how many hours. I think the surgery on my brain was 12 hours. When they got me to the hospital I was in a coma. The doctor said 20 minutes from being a DOA because my blood vessel broke in the brain and had been leaking for 12 hours. My brain was close to drowning. Well anyway, when I came through I still remember that in the hospital when my wife flew in not knowing whether I’d live or die and I’ve told you this before but it’s a miracle. On that high floor in the Amsterdam hospital and I could not talk and I could not write and I could not speak. And my wife looked at me and wondered what my future would be when suddenly; right outside my window there fluttered a sparrow. Way up there, no place to sit, no place to eat, it just fluttered as if a message from God saying, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me.” What gentleness God uses is a sparrow, what a gentle bird.
And then I still remember the time when a nurse came and those Dutch nurses are wonderful, too. They saved my life there in Amsterdam. And a nurse came and she didn’t say anything. She just took her fingers and she stroked my forehead and smiled. It was so healing. I can still remember it.
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 I’d had my heart thing, so I had medicine with me, I said, maybe you’re getting a heart attack. Take one of these and I gave it to her. Gave her two. The doctor said it probably saved her life because she had a severe attack; she would land up at a hospital getting six by-passes. Gosh. And I called the doctors of course, they came with an ambulance and they put her on a cot and they were carrying her out and as they did that, as she was being put into the ambulance, the paramedic stroked her hair. She never forgot it. Stroked the hair.
Gentle giants. They’re all over the place. You are one of them. Then she was put into the emergency room. No one was allowed in the emergency room. We were on a mission with David Yonggi Cho from Seoul Korea. He’d heard that Arvella was being taken to the hospital. He made it to the hospital, got there almost immediately, and he burst into the emergency room. He’s not allowed to do that. And they told him get out of here, you can’t come in here, but they spoke Italian and he spoke Korean and neither one of them understood anybody else. So he didn’t leave. And he took a hold of Arvella’s toes and held them gently. She still remembers that.
You can be a gentle giant. That’s going to change your family, your world, your business. Gentleness should not be looked upon as terrible weakness, no, no. Gentleness is the most powerful weapon in the world.
Yes, He is the power that’s alive today, calling for you and you and you to become His followers. Take my yolk upon Me; learn of Me for I am gentle and lowly of heart. Wow. I invite you to choose the positive thinking of gentleness instead of harshness. Let the positive emotions dominate your emotional self. You are a body self. So high, so much weight, certain coloring. Can’t do anything about that. But you are also an emotional creature, independent and capable of choosing what kind of an emotional self you will be. I urge you, you know that gentleness comes through the Bible; I was looking through the Bible verses. In Proverbs, way back then, Solomon said, “A gentle tongue breaks a bone.” Wow.
You know, how can you be a gentle giant? Understand that all of what you are is a communicating creature. And gentleness is to be communicated through your personality to those you mingle with. And let me say how you should apply gentleness. Gentleness: it’s the words that you use. There are some horrific, angry, uncivil words in the language of our culture in America today. Listen to some of the talk show people. Listen to some of the newscasters who will form a panel and debate. Listen to the politicians. Listen to the congressmen, the senators. Civility is short cut. There’s a hunger for gentleness. Be kind, be polite, be courteous. Pick your language carefully. Choose the words that are respectful. Gentleness. It’s in the words we use. It’s in the tone that we have when we use these words. It’s in the look. Gentleness can be in the look. The smiling eyes, the soft and tender face, a look, a word.
Think what you look like if you could see yourself in a mirror when you’re talking to others. 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 civilization in our culture today. A lot of the relationships are brutal, they’re uncouth, their crude, their course, their insulting. The sneer, the insult. I’m asking you to join me in a new movement, a movement to bring the message of Jesus Christ to a level where it will affect people’s behavior so that they will know you as a Christian by the look, by the word, by the touch, by your gentleness. You are gentle giant. Wow.
Become a gentle giant. Listen to Jesus. He’s inviting you today to take the kind of faith, kind of religion that really transforms persons. That’s the last word; that’s where faith has to lead you. And that’s where you come in. Be a gentle giant. It’s a decision you make today saying Jesus, I want to be like You. Powerful but merciful. Strong but tender. A giant but gentle. Amen. Let us pray.
Oh God, You’ve been talking to us again today, talking to us through the words of Jesus that are over 2,000 years old. And oh Lord, we’re making decisions today to become followers of Jesus Christ. We don’t know where it’s going to lead us but help us to become beautiful Christians like Jesus. Amen.