What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 15: GENTLENESS, PATIENCE, FORGIVENESS
It was Tennyson who spoke of “gentleness, which, when it weds with manhood, makes the man.” In our Lord this wedding was supreme, for despite his strength and power he possessed the greatest tenderness and compassion of anyone who has lived on earth.
In fact, the consistency of his unconditional, unequivocal tolerance for every individual equaled his unconditional, unequivocal intolerance for every wrong, every evil. (His total love for one meant total war with the other.) Thus, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:5-6).
Ponder for a moment the boundless and total nature of the Master’s attributes in this respect.
—with his apostles, who consistently misunderstood and misapplied and vacillated
—with publicans and sinners, and with all who needed help, regardless of how long they took to heed his advice
—for his disciples, even to the point of finding an excuse for them when they fell asleep at his darkest hour (Matthew 16:36-41)
—for all people and all sinners who could come to him
—for even those who hung him on the cross (Luke 23:34)
On the surface, one would think that a perfect being—who made no error himself, who could look on sin with no degree of allowance, would be a great discourager both by his seemingly unmatchable example and by his seemingly unreachable demands. Why, then, was Christ the greatest encourager of human history?
Because of his complete gentleness, patience and forgiveness (all of which show us a complete sensitivity even to parts of our nature we do not know, and all of which show us an unconditional love), he can chasten us without hurting us, as he did with Peter (see Mark 8:31-33).
Tact, diplomacy and soft, indirect approaches are things men use to be sure others do not feel offense or dislike. Christ needed none of these because his love was so genuine and total that rebuke became part of it—an acceptable part because hi love could not be doubted.
Perhaps, like electricity, God’s Spirit does not flow into something that it can’t flow out of. The Master seemed constantly ready to receive his Father’s “currents” of gentleness, patience and love, because they flowed so easily and so naturally out of him and into the hearts and minds of all he met.