If there was one point I would have liked to spend a whole new sermon on, it would have been something along the lines of what restoration with gentleness looks like practically. Here’s some more of my thoughts on what gentleness looks like practically:
- It is not gentle to avoid saying hard things. Gentleness is not the absence of difficulty, but rather gentleness is measured by how a hard thing is done in a loving way. We know this when we get our blood drawn. There are the blood techs do the little things to make giving blood a little less stressful. It’s still painful, but nearly as bad as a nurse who treats us like we’re a pin cushion. Sometimes we try to avoid hard saying hard things and hide behind ‘gentleness’, when in fact we are evading the process because we are afraid we will lose a friendship. God tells us correction is a mark of love, not an absence of it. (Heb 12:5-8) [*and the best way to learn how to do this is to accept correction from others!]
- Gentleness requires patience with the process. It’s very rare that someone ‘gets it’ the first time. Think about some hard biblical truth that you now believe with all your heart: did you hear it the first time and believe it, or did it take you a while to search, struggle, or question? Restoration is an equally daunting task; it can be easy to become angry with an offender for their lack of progress. But trusting that person with Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit means that person’s change is not in your hands. Lack of patience with someone is often a symptom of lack of patience with God and His work. (Rom 2:4; God’s gentleness and forbearance leads to our repentance)
- Gentleness requires choosing your battles. This a similar theme of #2; what priorities as defined by the gospel must they get first and what are important things that must be dealt with later? If a child has disobeyed her parents by doing something she shouldn’t, AND tried to cover it up, the priority is her heart attitude that wants to cover up sin, and not the original offense (though still important). Understanding the Gospel is priority number one for everyone, everything else falls in line after that. Heart attitudes (what God looks at;1 Sam 16:7) are a greater priority than outward behaviors.
- Gentleness in restoration means having a vision for what it would look like for the damage of sin to be totally repaired. What has been broken a) in the heart of the offender; b) in the heart of the offended; c) in community? What would it look like for there to be peace and joy among all those involved? Of course there is always the now-not-yet to all of life. We can’t expect perfect results in a fallen world with fallen people, but we can be faithful in our responses.