“I am gentle and humble of heart”

We often read about Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers at the Great Temple in Jerusalem or accosting the Pharisees who are trying to trick him. But how often do we hear of Jesus the gentle minister of love? In this line, it is so apparent.

It appears in Matthew 11: 28-30. “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

When someone quotes me a simple line or two of scripture, I like to remind them that it exists in a larger context. This wonderful line comes after a prayer to the Father (Matthew 11: 25-27):

“Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children. Father, it is true. You have graciously willed it so. Everything has been given over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one knows the Father but the Son — and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

So many use the Word of God to bring vengeance and fear on others, or as someone once referred to it, to “clobber” others with their self-righteousness. In this line of scripture, Jesus shows us that God isn’t about clobbering others. He is about love. He is about respecting one another. He is gentle and humble. And he invites us to be that way, too.

Yes, when others have disrespected the House of God or disrespected Himself or others, Jesus has rebuked them. At least once he overturned the tables of the money changers who not only defiled the temple but also cheated worshipers. But otherwise, Jesus showed great love and kindness to others, including outcasts and those whom society in Jesus’ time usually ignored or rebuked.

So why do so many who call themselves Christians seem to have a problem showing gentle and humble respect for other people? Is it that Jesus hasn’t revealed himself to them as he says in his prayer to the Father? Or are they simply not paying attention?

Being gentle and humble of heart is not being weak. It takes strength to be gentle and humble in today’s world. It is a greater weakness to give in to hatred and anger.

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