“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:4 NASB)
The common utterance of this verse is from the KJV ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.’ Do not lower yourself to using the stupid little quip that ‘meek is not weak’ or something like that. Dead fundamentalism has a lot more to say about what this verse does not mean, as opposed to what it does mean. This verse is a solid rebuke against dead fundamentalism, and a call to genuine compassionate Christianity. As someone who struggles with my own dead fundamentalism I will assure you that this verse hits me square between the eyes! You and I know full well that we are to preach a message of repentance, and that we must preach against sin, and the we are not to avoid the realities of heaven and hell, and we are at times to bring to remembrance the lake of fire... etc. Nonetheless, all of those truths must be spoken, not just in love, but with gentleness.
Again recall the context of the teaching on the mount, Jesus is speaking in a small group setting with His disciples and Jesus knows full well that later He is going to send those very disciples out to preach repentance... (See Mark 6:12) and the hardest thing about preaching repentance is not preaching the truth, or having the courage to tell it like it is... the hardest thing is to faithfully preach repentance while only seeking good and not attempting to harm anyone with it... In other words, the hardest part of teaching repentance is gentleness. Now avoiding the message of repentance for the sake of gentleness is not right either! Nonetheless the preaching of repentance must be gentle. There is a real paradox here that goes missed by most of us... We are called to swing the sword of truth gently. We are to wield the sharp word that divides soul and spirit gently... it is an utterly impossible task apart from the supernatural. It is like gently dropping a bomb... the Gospel of the Kingdom is so powerful, and so offensive, and so intrusive to the soul and well being of a person that even the most gentle delivery will be seen as a great attack! However that is the very point! Let the message do the harm, let the deliverer of the message be as gentle as a dove!
Now I have been writing about the ‘teaching on the mount’ as though it were a lens to discern what is really occurring in people when the message of repentance is given to them, as well as the healings and service of Christ (see previous few posts). This verse applies in that way as well. Receiving the message of repentance and the gospel of forgiveness must produce gentleness in the new believer. It will produce a broken spirit, mourning, and now... gentleness. Often time people will be exposed to the power of the Gospel, and instead of applying that Gospel to themselves they instead want to partake of its power. So they go out and preach it, teach it, and they become enamored with the ‘authority’ it gives them, unfortunately the utter lack of gentleness that these folks usually exhibit proves that either they are not at all converted, or that they are mere babes in Christ who have not moved on much since conversion. Most of these believe themselves to be preachers when in reality they are users of God to meet their own power needs. These last few sentences I speak from personal experience, I was there both before and shortly after conversion, believing it was my place to proclaim all gospel truths, command repentance, etc... but I had not an ounce of gentleness, and the reality was that I was a proclaimer of truth, but one who proclaimed in the flesh.
So where the rubber meets the road is this... Do you teach the whole Gospel, including repentance, with utter gentleness? Or for the sake of gentleness have you forsaken the whole Gospel? Or have you been given the supernatural ability to preach the most offensive of messages in the most gentle of manners?
I know this was a ramble, I hope it helps someone.