Daily D – 2 Corinthians 10:1
Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away. 2 CORINTHIANS 10:1 (NLT)
It was Vice President and presidential candidate George H. W. Bush who talked about a vision of a kinder, gentler nation. Peggy Noonan, whose editorials grace the pages of the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal, was his speechwriter. She also contributed the famous phrase, “a thousand points of light.” You can find out how the foundation bearing this name continues serving Americans here: https://bit.ly/3i1QXeN.
That was 1988. This is now. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had politicians who could, with a straight face and an honest track record, talk about a kinder, gentler nation? There is an old saying in political circles that all politics is local. Let’s dig in that mine a little deeper. When politicians say they are grassroots leaders, what they mean is they take their values and directions from the real lives in their districts and states. What is important at the local level is what is important in Washington, D. C.
If grassroots politics is ever to be real and meaningful, you and I are going to have to live the faith we profess in such a way it is embodied in all we say and do at home, at work, at play, wherever we may be. It has to be the rule on the highways and streets and walking paths. It has to be the rule in every conversation. If we want a kinder, gentler world, it begins with you and me.
Let us pause right here. I am not running for any office of any kind. I am not accepting campaign contributions. I am not going to tell you who to vote for. You’re welcome.
Peggy Noonan is a woman who is serious about her faith. It shows up in what she writes and how she writes it. She does not pepper her prose with Bible verses. She applies those truths in what she says, however. It is good to commit the Bible to memory. Memorizing verses and passages and prayers helps us keep our focus and directs us along the right paths when it is not clear which way we should go. As good as that memory work is, it is better that we do what those texts say.
Paul here says he appeals with the gentleness and kindness of Christ. There are three big words there we need to ponder. Notice the word appeal. An appeal is a serious or urgent request. It is not a demand or a command. Paul was forceful without becoming overbearing. Let’s keep that in mind and take it to heart. How might you and I appeal more and demand less?
Gentleness is a nice word. It calls to mind men and women of grace. There are plenty of caricature Christians to poke fun of in television and movies, and in our churches. There are also those people whose walk with God is so evident, they exude peace. When they enter a room or speak in a tense moment, they are like oil on water. Their presence soothes and comforts. How might you and I live with more gentleness in our behavior and conversation?
Gentleness does not indicate wishy-washy, namby-pamby, indecisive behavior. The word indicates strength under control. It is impossible to exercise strength properly and beneficially without self-control.
Kindness is a word so out of fashion it is almost never used. This grieves me. Kindness contains the ideas of generosity and consideration. We live in an age and in a country where, even during a pandemic, ordinary men and women control wealth kings of old would envy. And yet with all of our creature comforts, it is the rudest and most hateful who get all the attention. It is hard to get attention otherwise. People do what gets rewarded.
There was a photo of a man in my hometown who received an award for courteous driving. I was a teenager when that appeared. His good behavior and the city’s recognition left a mark. The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada routinely rewarded good behavior similarly a few years ago and saw their crime rate decline. Maybe if we stop rewarding bad behavior with endless attention and ratings, we could give more attention and ratings to the positive alternatives.
Jesus was gentle and kind. He was strong with God’s strength and forceful without being hateful. He was not always nice the way we conceive it, but he always did what was right, just, fair, and merciful.
Our age issues an appeal to us today. Lead yourself and others with gentleness and kindness. A kinder, gentler world is possible. It is a matter of truth spoken with grace. You and I have opportunities before us today to speak the truth in love. When we do we will do our part to build a kinder, gentler world.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
I will become a kinder, gentler man.
Our Father, I want to be strong in your strength. I want that strength tempered by your kindness and gentleness. I do not want to become pushy and obstinate. I want to be more like Jesus. I want to become a point of light for those wrestling with this present darkness. Amen.
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John 19:11 “You would have no authority over me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (CSB)
John 18:36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (CSB)