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Sermon 6/29/08
Numbers 12:3 - Gentleness

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Sermon 6/29/08 – Numbers 12:3 – Gentleness

Gentleness

Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3)

On our journey through the words (or concepts, really) that Paul referred to as the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, we now come to “gentleness” or “humbleness” which is also translated as “meekness,” a word often misunderstood. Many people view meekness this way: “Meek rhymes with weak, and that’s NOT what I want to be!” Weakness is NOT what Almighty God wants for you, either, for “gentleness” actually requires great strength.

W. E. Vine blessed a generation of pastors and missionaries by writing books such as the “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” taking us into the subtleties of words found in the New Testament. About “Gentleness,” which he also translated as “meekness” or “humility;” it is “not,” he said, “in a person’s outward behavior… nor in relations to his fellow-men… rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and (it is) first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting… It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of POWER… the Lord was ‘meek’ because He had the infinite resources of God at His command… meekness is the opposite of… self-interest… It is neither (being) cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.

An excellent example of “gentleness” or “humbleness” is Moses, called the “man of God.” In Numbers 12:3, we find a little parenthetical statement, which says: “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” Joshua was Moses’ helper, his secretary, during those years. The term for “secretary” is actually an “amanuensis,” a trusted secretary who had the right to make minor additions to the text. If Moses said about himself that he was “humble,” he wasn’t, because the very nature of humility includes a lack of self-preoccupation. Joshua, who knew more about Moses than anyone else, saw the meekness of that great man and added those words.

James Packer, in “Your Father Loves You,” wrote: “Moses was a man with a fierce temper - it was this which had betrayed him during the time in the wilderness - but when God said, in effect, ‘Now look, Moses, in order to teach the whole world how much loss sin can bring, I'm not going to let you enter the land; the people will go in, but you won't,’ he did not curse God in furious protest; quietly, if sadly, he accepted God's decision. That's meekness. Meekness, for a child of God, means accepting uncomplainingly what comes, knowing that it comes from the hand of God who orders all things. What He sends, we accept in faith even if it hurts, knowing that it's for our and others' good.

It’s interesting that by looking into these words called the “fruit of the Spirit,” we can see the heart, the character, the love of God. Often in Scripture, we encounter His holiness. In places like Isaiah 64:6, we find that compared to Him, “we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags… our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). As Paul the Apostle put it, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God is holy, just and true, and comparatively speaking, we’re not!

Holiness marks Him. He is clean, pure, and just; perfect in all His ways. But He also exhibits infinite love. We catch glimpses of this in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament we see more. To look deeply at the “fruit of the Spirit” we have been studying, is to see God. Words like “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,” our word for today, and next week, “self-control” – it’s all about Him. He is altogether wonderful. And He shares Himself with those who place their trust in Him.

Warren Wiersbe spoke about “Hudson Taylor, (who) was scheduled to speak at a… church in Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as ‘our illustrious guest.’ Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, ‘Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.’

In Taylor we catch a glimpse of “gentleness,” that little understood characteristic, also called “humility” and “meekness.” We find it in a number of people in Scripture such as Moses,  but the gentleness seen in him is really a reflection of God in him. ALL true “fruit of the Spirit” comes from God.

In Matthew 11:28-29, an invitation is extended to all of us in Jesus Christ. He said this: “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” He is the One who has the “gentleness” you need. He is the Friend who will LISTEN to your every request. He will never assert Himself or interrupt you, for when you are pouring out your heart to Him – He listens! and will take your concern to His Father. That’s what Scripture says He is doing right now: If you feel condemned by life, “it is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). He knows Your name, He loves you, and He is making intercession, PRAYING for you right now.

His concern is not about Himself, He cares for you. How can He listen to and pray for six and one-half billion people all at once, all the time? – He is God! Isaiah said that He would be a “Child… a Son…” given to us, and He would be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). This is the One who is also “gentle,” or “meek” in some translations, and “lowly in heart.” It is He who offers you “rest.” Moses was changed by God to the point where others viewed him as unusually “humble,” and yet his humanity was fully in place. He was still Moses, but he also reflected God.

Today in the Word” (September, 1989, page 19), quoted A.W. Tozer: “The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything!"

Dear Lord, I need You. Fill my heart and life. I trust in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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