Thanks Robin for leading us in some songs – Robin is a blessing in many ways. One of those ways is that he written a number of songs. We have sung a few of them out here. They are all based very closely on passages from the Bible. One that he did was taken from Psalm 18 (or maybe 2 Samuel 22 as they are almost identical). It is a Psalm written by King David when the LORD had delivered him from all his enemies. And David had a few, he was in many battles, so it is quite a military Psalm, all about God arming him, and giving him victory over his enemies. It is about defeating those who opposed him. But there is one phrase in the song that struck me – it says: [Psalm 18:35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.] [P] It seems a bit strange, doesn’t it?: “Your gentleness makes me great.” We could understand it if it said: “Your mighty power makes me great.” but “Your gentleness”?! Not his, but God’s. God’s gentleness makes me great! We tend to think of gentleness as weak, how can gentleness make you great? Well that is the subject that I have been given to speak about tonight: "gentleness" or "meekness". The meaning of the Greek word is: acting in a manner that is gentle, mild and even tempered –humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness. But who wants to be gentle? – it’s OK for a mum with her baby, but for men?! Gentleness is not an attribute that is esteemed or sought after today. Gentlemen are no longer found – the idea is outdated, old-fashioned. The thing to be now, is assertive – we admire the self-made man, the one who pushes to the top, the one who pursues and attains his dream or goal; not the one who defers to others. We tend to think of gentleness as something, weak and insipid, a bit sissy. But gentleness, or meekness, is not weakness. [P] One preacher used the illustration of a Boeing 747 – there is that plane with the power to carry 400 people at over 550 mph - tremendous power; yet this preacher was returning home after an exhausting preaching schedule and fell asleep on the flight. The landing was so gentle that he didn’t even wake up. There was enormous power but great gentleness. The power was under control. Are any of you dads who have had a play tussle with your young son? You are wrestling with one who is much weaker than you, you could very easily really hurt him – but you control your power. I have a lovely wife called Rhoda, who I love dearly; but sometimes she can do things that drive me up the wall. Tell me, which takes the more power, to react out of my frustration and lash out or to control myself and respond with gentleness? No, gentleness is not weakness – it takes far greater power and control to be gentle than to fly off the handle and react in might. In the book of Proverbs it says: [Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.] Perhaps the greatest act of meekness or gentleness was Jesus dying on the cross. [P] Jesus was not overpowered – He said [John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”]. He had all the power of heaven available to Him – when He was arrested, He said [Matthew 26:53 “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?]. He could easily have avoided the cross – when they came to seize Him and asked who He was, He said: “I AM!” [John 18:6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.] Just a word from His mouth had them sprawled on the ground! No, Jesus allowed Himself to be taken and killed because that was His Father’s will. Having all that power to save Himself – He did not exert it but meekly allowed them to do as they wanted. Yes, Jesus is meek, gentle. He said [Matthew 11:29 “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.] Gentleness is the nature of Jesus. Talking about Jesus entering Jerusalem just before that Passover when He was killed, when the people welcomed Him and laid branches and clothes on the road to welcome their King – [Matthew 21:5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”] It is quoting a prophecy made about Him centuries before. Why did He who had such power, not exert it? Why did He meekly submit to that cross when He could so easily have avoided it? Jesus died a criminals’ death but He was no criminal – he was taking the death penalty for another criminal – ME!!! And for you too, if you put your faith in Him, turn from going your own way and put your reliance upon Him, on His death in your place and His resurrection – vindicating His perfect innocence and righteousness. It looked like weakness – but that weakness of God is greater than the power of man. It doesn’t make sense to our way of thinking – it seems like foolishness and weakness to take this path of meekness. [1 Corinthians 1:23-25 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.]. There is Divine wisdom and power in this way that is so contrary to the way we would go – the way of gentleness and meekness. This Greek word in for “gentleness’ found in Gal 5.23 about the fruit of the Spirit occurs just 11 times NT – usually it is associated with when punishment is deserved but instead there being gentleness. The response should be a harsh one but you choose not to but rather to be gentle – it is the opposite to being harsh with people. When people in the church in Corinth were not behaving as they should Paul wrote to them and said: [1 Corinthians 4:21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?]. Or when dealing with people who had been caught in sin: [Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.] Or when people oppose what is the truth: [2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.] It is the opposite of being bold [2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!] This quality of “gentleness” or “meekness” is totally alien to our nature [P] – there are no more gentlemen, nor do we seek to be one. We are each looking out for our own life, pushing and striving to get what we want and let no one stand in the way. Have you seen the Pirates of the Caribbean? The Pirates motto: “Take what you can, give nothing back,” We are all pirates! All looking out for our own individualistic selfish ends. Get what I want, look after number one and blow everybody else. Trample on whoever you have to in order to make it. It is ambition and assertion that wins the prize. That is way of man and it is completely opposite to gentleness, to meekness – only a fool would let himself be a doormat and let everyone trample on Him. But isn’t that what Jesus did? Only those with the life of Jesus display meekness – it is the mark of a Christian. [P] Those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection, have died with Him – been crucified with Him. They lay down their own lives, just as Jesus did. So those who have been raised to life with Jesus, have His life, His nature, His character – a character which is gentle. Gentleness should be the character of a Christian: [Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience] [Ephesians 4:1-2 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,] [Titus 3:2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.] [James 1:21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in gentleness receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.] [James 3:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behaviour his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.] [1 Peter 3:15-16 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.] And in advice to Christian wives Peter said they were not to makes themselves beautiful with jewellery and fancy dresses [1 Peter 3:4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.] We may not value it but God finds gentleness a beautiful quality. Again and again Christians are exhorted in the Bible to be gentle, meek. But it is not in man, it is only in Jesus. Only those with the life of Jesus will exhibit this precious quality of meekness. It is the fruit of the Spirit: [Galatians 5:23 The fruit of the Spirit is: …. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.] It comes from the life of Jesus within those that He has made new creations. Those who die with Jesus, believing His death to be their death, rise to new life. [Romans 6:4-8 By our baptism, then, we were buried with Him and shared His death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life. For since we have become one with Him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with Him by being raised to life as He was. And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. For when people die, they are set free from the power of sin. Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.] Not a life of striving and assertion but of gentleness and meekness – the life of Jesus – His meekness displayed in our lives. It seems dumb to others but it is the wisdom and power of God. Instead of seeking your own life, you lay down your life for another – that is meekness. And there is a blessing in meekness [P] [Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.] The world would say it a recipe for disaster and misery. But for all their striving and asserting themselves, they never find contentment – the blessing that comes to the meek eludes them. You can know a blessing that others will never find. It comes by laying your life down and receiving the true life of Jesus, life that only He can give.