Main Truth: Matthew 11:28-3 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
My son has continued his position at a local grocery store throughout the shelter in place. We have a routine. When he leaves, I say, have a good shift honey. And when he arrives home, I say how was work? The answer is always one word. Good. At least until recently. Over the past week or so he is experiencing an increasing amount of hostility from customers. People are angry, reactive, irritable. I hear the same stories from other friends. One friend works at a bank said she was yelled at repeatedly for not being able to tell her customer where her stimulus check was. We get it! The pressure is on and we are being pressed on all sides with loss of income, isolation and fears of COVID.
As our world continues to ramp up in its frustrations, I am reflecting on my own emotional responses as a follower of Christ. I find myself desperately needing His gentleness both toward me and through me as I interact with others during this time. So, I took a deep dive into this amazing character quality of gentleness that our Savior possesses in order to better understand it and exhibit it in my own life.
The Greek word translated for “gentle” used in this passage in Mathew appears only three other times in the new testament. It appears in the first beatitude that says the “meek” or gentle will inherit the earth, it appears in the prophesy in Matthew 21 that says Jesus the King is coming to you “humble and mounted on a donkey” and finally in Peter’s encouragement to wives to nurture their heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
Meek. Humble. Gentle. Quiet. Jesus is not trigger happy. Not harsh. Not reactionary. He is not easily exasperated like we tend to be when pressures ensue. Jesus is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to Him is not a pointed finger but open arms. I don’t know about you, but if I am honest with myself, my soul is desperate for an understanding companion that can handle my COVID fears and frustrations.
For all His resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, no one in all of human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ. No prerequisites - no hoops to jump through. The minimum bar to be enfolded into the embrace of Jesus is simply to open yourself up to Him. That is all He requires. I’m so grateful, aren’t you? Whatever we are carrying, all we need do is simply come and he will welcome us gently.
In fact, verse 28 of Matthew 11 tells us explicitly who qualifies for this fellowship with Jesus; all who labor and are heavy laden. Sound like anyone you know? Maybe someone you have bumped into in the grocery store? You do not need to unburden or collect yourself and then come to Jesus, your very burden is what qualifies you to come. No payment is required. He says I WILL give you rest. His rest is a gift, not a transaction. Whether you are spinning in a frenzy trying to apply for unemployment and SBA loans and look for work or passively find yourself weighed down by all that is outside your control, Jesus Christs’ desire is that you find rest and that you come in out of the storm.
Gentle and lowly. This, according to his own testimony is Christ’s very heart. This is who He is. Tender. Open. Welcoming. Accommodating. Understanding. Willing. If we are asked to say only one thing about who Jesus is, we would be honoring His own teaching if our answer is gentle and lowly. My desire during this time is to know this part of Him in a deeper way and to exemplify His Spirit of gentleness toward others. Won’t you join me?
Post written by: Janice Seal
Janice grew up in the Bay Area in a broken family. She met Christ in the 3rd grade at a neighborhood gathering for kids called a 5 Day Club. The woman who led the club took her to church where she was baptized and received her first bible. In later years, she encountered the ministry of Young Life where she deepened her faith and felt the call to love others with the love of Christ as she had been loved. She now serves at Powerhouse Ministries and claims it is the highlight of her week. Janice is married to her husband of 24 years and they have three children all now in college.