"Living In The Spirit Of Gentleness and Self Control"
(Galatians 5:22-25; Colossians 3:12-17)
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
It was Christmas, and a little boy was asked to play the role of the innkeeper who turned away Mary and Joseph. "I won't do it!" he exclaimed, "Because the man was mean to Mary and Joseph." But the teacher insisted, and he finally learned his lines. The night of the performance came. Mary and Joseph knocked on the door. The boy, dressed as the innkeeper, opened the door and said, "Sorry, there's no room in the inn," but then he added, "if you want to come in, you can rest awhile and have some milk and cookies." (1)
Today our focus is Living In The Spirit Of Gentleness and Self Control. I think that little boy qualified. Let's look at the quote from Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse concerning the Fruit of the Spirit.
"Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Patience is love enduring. Kindness is love's touch. Generosity is love's character. Faithfulness is love's habit. Gentleness is love's self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins." (2)
Galatians 5:22-25 (NRSV)
 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Colossians 3:12-17 (NRSV)
 As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This week we learned about five different Be-Attitudes which "lets the word of Christ dwell in us richly" and helps us live a life of Gentleness and Self-Control.
Those Be-Attitudes are Be Obedient, Be Kind, Be Forgiving, Be Bold and Believe.
I. BE OBEDIENT:
A. Let's look at Be Obedient first. Mom brought in a plate of fresh backed chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven. The smell was heavenly. The seven and ten year old son and daughter were told not to touch them they were for a party late on that day.
"Oh, I want one of these cookies!" cried the little boy, jumping up as soon as his mother went out, and going on tiptoe toward the table.
"No!" said his older sister, pulling him back. "Mom said you couldn't touch the cookies."
"Mom won't know. She didn't count them," he said as he started to reach out and grab a cookie.
"Mom didn't, but God did. God counted the cookies." the little girl answered. Immediately the little boy's hand stopped. You can be sure that God always counts the cookies! (3)
B. This week, through the story of Gideon, a very unlikely hero, the boys and girls learned that faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. Whoever obeys God, trusts God; and whoever trusts God, obeys God. That's just the way it works.
Gideon trusted God. Even though Gideon probably thought God was a little nuts, Gideon trusted God and obeyed God. In so doing, Gideon and his 300 men were able to defeat the 120 thousand Midianite and Amalekite troops who had threatened their country. All because Gideon was obedient.
You know, I think if we could all obey God with the same joy and abandonment or at least as well as my dog Cookie obeys me, we would all be a lot happier. Cookie always looks so proud and pleased with herself when she obeys. Why can't we? Be Obedient.
II. BE KIND:
A. Tuesday's lesson was about David welcoming his friend Jonathan's son to his table. That doesn't seem like it was too big of a deal, does it? But it was. David was the King. Jonathan's son Mephibosheth was Saul's grandson. Saul, who had once befriended David had declared war on David. They were sworn enemies. But when David became King, he reached out to the only one who was left from Saul's family. Restored the family farm to Mephibosheth and ate at the King's table like one of the King's own sons. That was a big deal. It was an extraordinary act of kindness that showed the true nature of David's love for God and all that God holds dear.
Maybe you remember another extraordinary act of kindness in Washington State, just before Christmas last year. It seems a regular patron of a particular Starbucks in Everett, Washington paid for the person in line behind her. She had done this a few times before but this time her good deed set off a chain of 1,013 customers paying for the next person's drink.
Many coffee shop patrons tacked on an extra $10 or $20, which shift manager Sarah Nix said Starbucks Corp. will donate to its ongoing holiday toy drive. The seemingly spontaneous pay-it-forward run ended at 6:20 a.m. Friday, a store employee said. The name of the iced-tea drinker who started it remains unknown. (4)
B. We can all do with a little reminder now and then, to act with kindness. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and problems. But, God has told us to treat others as we'd like to be treated. By looking at others through the eyes of Christ we can spread God's love and message, making a difference to those around us simply by being kind. Be Kind.
III. BE FORGIVING:
Wednesday we talked how to Be Forgiving. In the Science Lab we talked about how hard it is to forgive sometimes, and how when we don't forgive it erodes not only our friendship but our relationship with God. But when someone is forgiving it changes everything and lifts the spirits of everybody. Both the one who does the forgiving and the one who has been forgiven.
I remember reading a story from another preacher who said, one night his dogs started barking furiously. They don't usually bark unless there's a prowler or something is wrong. The next morning they looked around but nothing was missing. Instead, something had been returned.
Outside the front door were two car speakers that had been stolen six weeks earlier. There was a note attached to the speakers which read, "I'm sorry that I took your speakers, but now I have repented of my sins and asked Jesus to forgive me. I hope you will forgive me too. I no longer take other people's belongings. God has changed me. I am a new creature since I asked Jesus into my heart." It was signed simply, "Saved."
God changes us and changes others when we are forgiving. Be Forgiving no matter how hard it is.
IV. BE BOLD:
A. Next we talked about how to Be Bold. Since we've been using the analogy of surfing all week, I thought it appropriate to find a modern story of being bold. The one I think shows bold faith the most is about 18 year old surfer Bethany Hamilton. In October or 2003, when she was 13 she was attacked by a 14 foot tiger shark. She survived but lost her left are. But it didn't stop her from surfing or from sharing her faith every chance she got. Watch this.
Follow Bethany's example. Be Bold.
A. That brought us to Friday and Believe. Who are we called to Believe and Believe in? Jesus, of course. We are called to simply Believe and live what Jesus taught. He is the Son of God, who willingly died on the cross for our sake and our salvation and rose from the dead to overcome both death and the fear of death by offering eternal life. He did it all for us.
H.G. Wells once said, "If there is no God, nothing matters. If there is a God, nothing else matters!" The basic decision we all have to make is who we believe. If we believe God then we need to let God be God and to say "Yes" to the work of God.
The thing is, this could have been first or it could be last and actually it is both. You see you have Believe in order to Be Obedient, Be Kind, Be Forgiving and Be Bold.
But every time you are Obedient, Kind, Forgiving and Bold, it makes it easier to Believe. And you believe more, you go deeper in your faith because you have put your faith into practice. It's kind of like
How many of you like Kentucky Fried Chicken? My doctor said I'm not supposed to. Did you know that when Harland Sanders began his Kentucky Fried Chicken business, he didn't have very much money at all. And he had absolutely no money for advertising.
So, he grew that white beard, got a white suit, and as a Kentucky Colonel he became a walking advertisement for Kentucky Fried Chicken. (5)
We don't have to put on a special uniform or wear any special head gear, robes or whatever to be a Christian. But as Christians each one of us is a walking advertisement for Jesus Christ. Jesus said we ate the light of the world and we can't be hidden under basket. Instead we are supposed to shine bright for the world to see.
That's why the Apostle Paul wrote: "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience"
Be Obedient, Be Kind, Be Forgiving, Be Bold and Believe. These are the characteristics of Living In The Spirit of Gentleness and Self-Control. This is what it means to "let the word of Christ dwell in us richly" Be Obedient, Be Kind, Be Forgiving, Be Bold and Believe.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
2. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse
3. C.H. Spurgeon, adapted
4. Dec 21, 2007, The Associated Press, Copyright 2007
5. Preaching, Vol. 11, No. 4
Other References Consulted