GENTLE WITH FELLOW CHRISTIANS

Bible Reading: Colossians 3:1-7

Meekness and tenderness are fabric of your make-up; this enables you to show compassion even in seemingly impossible situations, eagerly bearing with one another in an environment where love rules.” Ephesians 4:2 (The Mirror Bible)

Many years ago I heard this short but humorous verse:

   “To live above with saints we love,

   Oh, that will be glory;

   To live below with saints we know,

   Well, that’s another story!”

In Ephesians 4:2 Paul says that we should have an attitude of humility, gentleness and patience and forbearance towards our Christian brothers and sisters. But have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get on with some fellow-Christians? You expect better and instead are disappointed!

There are three kinds of people who are especially difficult and challenging. The first are those who disagree with us and aggressively try to make their point and prove us wrong. We have three possible responses. Firstly, let them frighten us… and then avoid the situation and run away. Secondly, become equally aggressive… let the adrenaline from our anger push us, or thirdly, keep our response under control with the fruit of gentleness. Remember that no one has to win or lose in a disagreement.

The second group of people are those who correct us. Paul had to correct churches but sought to do it with gentleness [1 Cor. 4:21 and 1 Thess. 2:7].

When corrected some people have a tendency to snap back, instead of being guided by gentleness – strength under control. Perhaps they have forgotten that whoever heeds correction is honoured and he who hates correction is stupid [Proverbs 13:18; 12:1]. I am so grateful for the patient and caring people who have taken the time to lovingly point out the blind spots in my life.

The third group of people are those who disappoint us and let us down. Paul, writing to the Galatians says, “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” [Galatians 6:1]. God is merciful and gentle with us. He believes in us and when we fail he does not reject us. Just take a look at the remarkable way in which Jesus restored Peter [John 21:1-25].

Questions:

How do you handle the people who have hurt you and disappointed you?

Why is it important that we take criticism well and do no retaliate?

Are there any people you particularly struggle with and find it difficult to be gentle with in thought, word or deed? What are you going to do in order to change your attitude toward those people?