Does God Have My Back? Can I Afford to Be Gentle?

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It's a dog eat dog world.

Get all you can, can all you get, and poison the rest.

Look out for #1.

Power up.

Take no prisoners.

All true statements. That is, they are true if God is not near.

  • If He's not near, I can't afford to be gentle, and neither can you. Because you HAVE to look out for yourself.
  • If He's not near and everyone's wringing their hands, so am I.
  • If He's not near and I fear, I get emotionally hijacked and run…or power up.
  • If He's not near and things are getting dicey – take control! Take control and run over anyone in your way.
  • If He's not near, in marriage, there is one goal -victory.
  • If He's not near – His promises all through Scripture? Just words on a page.
  • If He's not near – my prayers? Talking to the ceiling.
  • If He's not near – my emotions – probably intense in areas like anger and anxiety. Probably limited in areas like love and peace.
  • If God's not near, my universe is small, I'm at the center, and it's all about control.

But What If God IS Near?

Most folks who memorize the Bible memorize Phil 4:6 – "Don't be anxious about anything…" We love that… that's a great command from God with a great promise.

Great verse – great verse. Known it since I was in high school.

But right before it…equally excellent. Phil 4:5:

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
Catch that?

"The Lord IS near." As in Matthew 1:23, "…they shall call His name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).

HE is NEAR.

That means I can AFFORD to be gentle. Gentle flows out of brave. Here's why:

If the Lord is really loving and compassionate and He really has this whole thing under control and He really really knows the number of hairs on your head and He really really knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, and all that knowledge and attention to detail is directed at you – and He's near…then brave is in the bag, and gentle flows out of brave.

The Lord is near.
So brave is in the bag.
And gentleness flows out of brave.

But what in the world does it mean to be gentle? Can be confusing. If I just do a simple word association – when I think of gentle I think of:

  • A lamb. I don't want to be a lamb.
  • A stuffed animal. Like that creepy talking bear (click link) on the fabric softener commercial.That's not good.
  • A door mat? No.
  • A wimp? I don't think so.
  • A picture of a mother cuddling her new born baby taken with one of the soft glow filters so the picture looks slightly out of focus. I'm just not sure how I'm going to pull that off.

Here's gentleness (male perspective – most get the female perspective on gentleness):

  • When everyone is wringing their hands in panic – the gentle man is calm.
  • When everyone is about to come to blows, the gentle man is calm but strong.
  • When the walls are caving in and the storm is blowing and it's time for action the gentle man is in control of his emotions, confident, ready for action… and still gentle.

A gentle man is safe. Not safe and defenseless.
But safe for his wife, his kids, his friends, his coworkers.
Safe because he's brave.
Brave because he knows that God has got his back.
He knows that the Lord is near.

A gentle woman is safe. Not safe and defenseless.
But safe for her husband, her kids, her friends, her coworkers.
Safe because she's brave.
She's brave because she knows that God has got her back.
She knows that the Lord is near.

Here's what nails it for me (mentioned in previous post):
Teddy Roosevelt said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
You can afford to speak softly when you have that big stick and you know how to use it.
How much better to speak softly because you walk with a big God?

You can be a brave man or woman, who is safe and gentle for others to be around, because a BIG God has got your back.

So let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord really is near.

Originally posted at ilikemycoffeeblack.com

David Ruzicka is senior pastor at Fort Bend Fellowship.