A Spirit of Love and Gentleness

1 Corinthians Bible Devotional

For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? (1 Corinthians 4:20, NKJV)

As I reflect on this Scripture today, my heart is filled with sadness. The Christian world has been once again rocked with another scandal. Yet another instance of where those of us who publicly identify as Christians feel shame, because one of our own has been found to be a fraud.

As I learned of this scandal, I thought of how the name of Jesus is besmirched by us when we claim one thing and live another.

Part of the problem is that many of us who stand for the truth of Scripture do so in a way that lacks love and gentleness.

I believe that at the root of this behavior is pride, and unfortunately, I’m no stranger to pride. I often find myself finding fault with others, and feel smug about my own supposed righteousness, when the reality is that I’m just as bad, and in some cases, even worse than those that I judge.

I charge forward with the Word of God on my side. And yet I often lack love and gentleness. God’s Word is powerful. It is true. And we should always stand on that truth, live that truth, and yes, proclaim that truth.

But the real power of Christ comes not just in words, but in sharing those words of truth with love and gentleness.

I believe that this can in part be attained by first of all being humble. When we speak the truth, we must speak it not as those who don’t fail, but as those who stumble. We must be honest about our own shortcomings, and deal with our own sins at the same time that we concern ourselves with the onslaught of sin in our culture.

It’s also important to be slow to make a judgment about what others do.

For example, earlier this week, my daughter posted something on Facebook, that broke my heart. I saw it as rebellion against God, and against how we raised her. I started to respond with some type of snide remark. Something clever and witty, but that would be downright hurtful.

Thankfully, I used restraint and didn’t post anything.

A day later, I saw that in response to what someone else said, my daughter wrote a bit more information about the incident. When I read the rest of the information, my heart swelled with pride. I saw that instead of contempt for God, her actions were based on her love of God and His truth.

Prior to this, I was rushing to judgment based on just part of the story. I wanted to charge in on my high horse and set her straight. But as it turns out, I’m the one who needed to be set straight. She was the one that was loving, and I was the one that was lacking in love and gentleness.

There will be times when you must stand for the truth. We all must not waver, and give in to what is popular. God’s truth is God’s truth. But a big part of the truth of God is that He calls us to love. He calls us to be gentle. And it’s in that love and gentleness that His true power is displayed.

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Praying the Word

Lord, forgive me for being quick to judge others. I acknowledge that sometimes even when I’ve been “right,” that I’ve confronted people in anger or frustration instead of a spirit of love and gentleness. Help me to be sensitive to not just you, but to others as well. Free me from the need to be “right” and compel me to be loving and gentle instead. Let your love that shines through me be what leads people to you.

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Applying the Word

If you, like me, have a tendency to want to speak up for the truth, make a decision to be slow to speak. Take the time to pray before confronting people. If you feel angry or frustrated, wait until the anger and frustration subsides before confronting someone. Better yet, unless you feel strongly led to confront someone, seek to instead reach out to them in love and gentleness.

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