The Taming of the Disciple

The question I ask about the preacher in the news–he shall remain nameless here; this is not about politics–but after watching him at the National Press Club and other forums this week, my question is: Where is the man’s humility? Where is the Christlikeness? The world saw plenty of the flesh, loads of meanspiritedness, an abundance of conviction and even eloquence and cleverness, together with a surplus of pandering to his audience. But where was the meekness and humility?

“Thy gentleness has made me great.” (Psalm 18:35)

The Lord God is The Awesome Force in this universe. In order to deal with puny humans like us, His power had to be gentled, otherwise we could not have withstood it.

The sun which lights our solar system radiates its mighty power with temperatures in the thousands of degrees. And yet, by the time its rays reach your back yard, they gently ripen grapes and warm picnickers and melt butter. For the sun’s light to bless this world, its strength has to be softened and slowed. The gentling elements include the 93 million miles of distance, our earth’s atmospherere, and the rotation of the globe.

Thousands of volts of electricity surge through the power lines up and down your street. Were those lines run straight into your house, the energy would burn up every appliance and probably set your house afire. Transformers are installed on light poles up and down the street to gentle the power. Consequently, only 110 volts enters your home, enough to run the appliances, light your home, and operate the computer.

So, how was our great God so gentled that we might be able to know Him? “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” God came to earth in human form, as a baby born in Bethlehem, laid in a manger. “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1) Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14)

Jesus Christ is God the Father gentled.

Jesus said, “I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) Not bombastic, not belligerent, not meanspirited, but gentle. Not cruel, not harsh and unloving, not power-mad or unkind. Gracious. Loving. Humble.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness….” (Galatians 5:22) Whom the Holy Spirit controls, He tames, and He produces in that one such character as can only be described as like Jesus Christ of Nazareth Himself.

Christians get off course at times and want to argue that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence is this or that spiritual gift. Not so. The infallible manifestation of the Spirit and proof of His indwelling rule is the Christlikeness He produces in that individual.

In order for us to serve God effectively, to communicate His love and the gospel of Jesus Christ to a fallen world, the Lord’s followers must be tamed and gentled, our spirits softened and made kind. Without this, those who speak for God will be too impressed by themselves, will come on too strong, show little mercy, and deal harshly with the hurting.

Without the Holy Spirit’s taming and gentling, the flesh will become pre-eminent and all we will communicate is our own personality. Untamed messengers either run people off or attract them to themselves, or both.

Observers of the church scene today notice that happening. Preachers who are operating in the flesh are running people away from God by their antics, their mean spirit, their cruel tactics, and their materialistic selfish ways. The people they attract, they bring not to Jesus but to themselves.

“With all humility and gentleness…show tolerance for one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) There’s that word again: “gentleness,” or “meekness.” The Greek word, “prautes,” is found 11 times in the New Testament. One scholar points out that this is not a natural disposition of anyone, but “an inwrought grace of the soul.” Some scholars call meekness “strength under control” and point out that it is the word the Greeks used of a horse that had been tamed.

Anyone thinking of meekness as weakness may sit in the corner with a dunce cap on your head. “Moses was very meek, more than any man on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) No one who knows the first thing about his Bible would call Moses weak. Yet, according to Scripture, he was meek. God had tamed him and his strength was under God’s control.

Bible students remember how Saul of Tarsus was converted and soon began preaching the Gospel of Jesus. To his dismay, he ran off more people than he attracted. It seems he had the right message, but the wrong spirit. He needed to be tamed. Therefore, God sent him home to Tarsus and let him marinate if you will. Later–months, years, we don’t know–when a revival broke out in Antioch of Syria among the Gentiles, Saul (soon to be called Paul) was brought in and found his place. Now, he was a different person and useful to the Lord. (Acts chapters 9 and 11)

Vance Havner used to say: “Christians pray ‘Lord, use me! Lord, use me.’ Listen, if you will get usable, God will wear you out!!”

Part of getting usable is humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God. (I Peter 5:6)

The evidence of the humbling will be the meekness. Remember, the world is watching.

3 thoughts on “The Taming of the Disciple

  1. my old mentor, the late Pastor Spencer Williamson, of Ft Lauderdale, FL, told me years ago that meekness is a force. Love and meekness are two of our best strengths, in reaching the lost, and edifying the saints.

  2. Wow, Joe, this is so powerful! If only we could all learn to live and walk this way.

  3. I tore out of the USA Today editorial page for April 30 their article “Damage Control, take 2” regarding Barack Obama’s former pastor. Nothing they said was original, but I tore it out for one phrase that stood out. This pastor’s radical views appear “driven by (his) enormous personal vanity.”

    Think of that. Imagine a secular newspaper saying that about a man of God.

    I wish every child of God had such discernment, I wish every pastor search committee had such wisdom, so that whenever they find a pastor who is “driven by enormous personal vanity,” they would run in the opposite direction. Such a pastor has forfeited any right to speak for God.

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