Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lowliness and Gentleness

Devotion from Women's Study- Ephesians 4:1-6

When Lisa (my Pastor’s wife) asked me to do a devotion on “lowliness and gentleness” my reply to her was, “Can’t we find something in Ephesians 4 about stubbornness and overbearing? That is more like me!” But as I started to open my heart and my ears to what the Lord was saying to me, I realized that “lowliness and gentleness” is the exact opposite of overbearing and stubborn. So, okay Lord, what are you telling me? I know I am overbearing and I know I am stubborn, the struggles I have had with my God are too numerous to count! So what can I learn through this passage today that will teach me about You, Jesus? About my walk and how You desire for me to walk it?
First, Paul urges the Ephesians to “walk worthy of the calling with which you (me) were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (vs. 1-3) To just do a word study on lowliness and gentleness would take them out of the context in which Paul is writing to the Ephesians and to us. So the Lord had me start with “walk worthy”.
To “walk worthy” means to live out our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God the Father. We are to walk, which means to move forward- not staying stagnant but growing, constantly. We are to “walk worthy” of the calling with which you were called.” Jesus Christ has chosen you; He has called you out of darkness and into the Light of His love. Chuck Smith puts it like this, “We have been called to be saints. We have been called to be children of God by faith. We have been called to be heirs of salvation. So walk worthy of your calling, as a saint, as a child of God, and as an heir of God.”
To walk worthy we need to accept and apply some very simple “rules” for lack of a better word, to our lives. We must walk with “all lowliness”. We know that all means all and that’s all all means- but what about lowliness? Lowliness means to have a humble opinion of one’s self. Now, there is such a thing as false humility- and I myself have had that from time to time. I say I am humble, that I know I am not all that and a box of crayons, but my heart tells me differently, my heart becomes lifted in pride. Recently, the Lord has made me see, and accept the fact that it has absolutely, positively, nothing to do with me. It is all about Him, it is all for Him and it is all because of Him. I have because He gave, I am because He is, I am nothing and He is everything. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) I am nothing- in fact, I am less than nothing, and I am dust. I am a sinner saved by grace through faith, and it is not of works (my own doing) but it is a gift of God. If you think you are lowly in mind, then go and pray- most likely you are not! (I know, I just had some hard lessons in this) Shakespeare I think, once wrote, I think- therefore I am. That is so not true. When we think we know something, that is when we should bow our knees and ask God to show us the error of our ways. When we think we are humble, then we are not. Lowliness is not a state of mind, it is a complete and total submission to the One who alone is worthy and Who alone is God. When we truly understand and accept the meaning of Lowliness in our hearts, when we truly understand that it is not about us at all- then the next word comes a little easier. That word is gentleness.
Gentleness is translated as meekness, a Christ-like characteristic. It is an adornment of the Christian profession.  “rather [let it be] the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible [beauty] of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4. Gentleness is not about the “outward” expression of our hearts or the way we act, but an inwrought grace of the soul- first towards God. It s a temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and without disputing or resisting Him, a total and complete surrender to His will- not in word only, but in a heart reality that is seen from the inside out. (Vines Expository Dictionary) This is a tough one for me! Lowliness is surrender to Him, gentleness is surrender to His will. There is a difference- a big difference.
When we humble ourselves, totally and completely humble ourselves, and believe that He is all and in all and through all, then the resisting of His will in our lives will go away. Just a few days ago, I had to let go of a son that has turned from the faith and has chosen to walk with this world. It is a hard thing to do, and an even harder thing to accept. But, I know, without a doubt that Jesus Christ has him in the palm of His hand, and nothing has or will happen to him that has not passed through the hands of my Father in heaven. God does not allow us to walk aimlessly. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works- which God has beforehand prepared that we should walk in them.” There are no coincidences in this life, God is not surprised by the events that happen in our lives- He has seen every detail and has worked it all out from beginning to end. We have to walk worthy of that knowledge. When we do, the rest will follow- we will be able to bear with one another, no matter what is said or done to us, we will be able to live in a bond of peace and unity with one another- for when we resist God, we will resist others and strive with them. When we let go, and completely let go, God will do the work through us. Romans 8:28 says, “all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Lowliness and gentleness come into our lives when we bow our hearts, our minds, our souls to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not about us, never has been and never will be. It is all for Him, to Him and because of Him. For we are “one body, one Spirit” we have “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God.” Where in this statement does it say your name? Does it say, Stephane’s body, Stephane’s Spirit, Stephane’s faith- no-it doesn’t- because it is not about me. It is all about Him and Him alone- One Lord, One Spirit, and One God. We bow in lowliness and He works in us gentleness. Amen