Continued from here.
In his book, In Season: Embracing the Father’s Process of Fruitfulness, Wayne Jacobsen’s asserted,
There is no more accurate sign of maturity than those who treat others, all others, with kindness and gentleness.”
That standard turns on its ear the measures that we typically use to assess someone’s level of spiritual maturity. By this standard, an illiterate grandmother who was never able to read the Bible for herself, never worked outside the home, and lived a quiet life being kind and good to her family, friends, and neighbors could be deemed spiritually mature while a pastor of 30 years who knows the Bible inside and out and regularly debates atheists is not. How can this be? If you consider that the Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then someone who is kind and gentle in her small sphere of influence better meets this description than someone with millions of followers who uses his influence to get them to fight for their religious rights.
Read Jacobsen’s words on this topic from the Softer and Sweeter chapter:
All too often I’ve seen people loaded with knowledge and zeal but still captives of the world’s system. They are harsh and their words are judgmental. In their wake are a lot of offended people—not by the gospel—but by the way they’ve been treated…Those who have lived deeply in Jesus reflect the same humility and gentleness that Jesus did. They no longer advance their own agenda, angry when they don’t get what they think God has for them. They are not pushovers because they will resolutely stand in the truth, and they do so with a grace for others. They don’t threaten to leave and go somewhere else ‘where their gifts will be appreciated.’ They gently express the compassion and care of the Father to those around them. With simple love and concern they are able to help people engage God…If we don’t live in that place, our misplaced passion can easily crush the very people we’re called to touch with his life.”
These are the types of people who drove me away from “organized religion” for over a decade. When my father passed away suddenly when I was 16 years old, I was in a tender place and desperately needed kindness and gentleness from my church family, but that’s not what I received. While what they said was correct, the way they said it was harsh. I didn’t need them to “be right.” I needed to know I was loved.
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dressed like a baby and drinking out of a baby’s bottle. Courtesy Bitmoji.]