The Strongest Men Are Gentle

Desiring God | 1/16/2019 | David Mathis
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Lennie is famous for his lack of gentleness.

One of John Steinbeck’s lead characters in Of Mice and Men, Lennie is a giant of a man, strong as an ox, with a mild mental disability. He has big muscles and a big heart. He loves petting soft things, but doesn’t know his own strength. First, he unintentionally kills a mouse he is stroking. Later it’s a puppy. Finally, he accidentally and fatally breaks a woman’s neck.

Lennie - Problem - Strength - Strength - Gift

Lennie’s problem isn’t his strength. Strength is a gift. Others benefit from Lennie’s strength, especially his friend George. What Lennie needs is not to lose his strength, but to gain the ability to control his strength for good purposes. To use his power to help others, not harm them.

Power in its various forms is a good gift from God, to be used by his people for the ends of his kingdom. And like other good gifts, power is perilous when wielded improperly. The answer to the dangers of strength is not its loss, but the gaining of a Christian virtue called gentleness.

Gentleness - Today - Virtue - Galatians - Fruit

Gentleness today may be the single most misunderstood Spirit-produced virtue of the nine listed in Galatians 5:22–23: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Two millennia later, gentleness is often used as a positive spin on weakness. But gentleness in the Bible is emphatically not a lack of strength, but the godly exercise of power. Gentleness does not signal a lack of ability but the added ability to steward one’s strength so that it serves good, life-giving ends rather than bad, life-taking ends.

Take rain, for instance. Hard rain destroys life, but “gentle rain” gives life (Deuteronomy 32:2). Violent rain does harm, not good. The farmer prays not for weak rain, or no rain, but for gentle rain....
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