IMPRESSED, CONVICTED, AND CHALLENGED

A couple of weeks ago I read an introduction to the writings of the 16th century Catholic Francois Fenelon and a few of his writings. While I appreciated the samples I read, I was impressed, convicted, and challenged by the observation made by Robert J. Edmonson that “Fenelon won the hearts of the Protestants with his gentleness and moderation.”

I don’t know of too many leaders, writers, politicians, and other public figures in our day who would be described by the words gentle and moderate. But shouldn’t all Christians be noted for showing moderation and gentleness in their discourse?

As I thought about the idea of gentleness a couple of Bible references came to mind. I looked the word up on BibleGateway.com and think these three are especially pertinent:

Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.”

Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

The basic idea of moderation is prevalent in the Bible for followers of Jesus. An explanation of moderation is the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behavior or political opinions and in a way that is reasonable and not excessive. It may not be exactly the same thing as self-control, but it is close. I find it interesting that the final two fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and 23 are gentleness and self-control.

Impressed by how Edmonson said Fenelon won the hearts of Protestants, I was also convicted. Edmonson’s characterization of how Fenelon won people’s hearts “with his gentleness and moderation” reminded me that those two words would probably not be used to describe me by those who have heard me discuss and debate a variety of issues.

I was not just impressed and convicted by Edmonson’s insight, I was also challenged to be more gentle and moderate in my teaching, discussions, and disagreements. Reflecting on both Jesus’ self-description in Matthew 11:29, and the Apostle Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4:2, I’m thinking a key to being gentler and more moderate is cultivating humility. My sense is that pride is the engine that drives a lot of us to be lacking in gentleness and moderation in our conversations.

Having written what I have so far, I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting being gentle and moderate requires people to compromise their convictions. I think it means we do what Paul urges in Ephesians 4:15 in terms of “speaking the truth in love.”

One more observation from Edmonson sheds light on the risk of showing gentleness and moderation. Defining gentleness and moderation with a new word, he notes “Fenelon’s restraint did not pass unnoticed among more extreme Catholic factions, who blocked his nomination as bishop.” Does that mean that those who are gentle and moderate and show restraint will pay a price from those are contentious? Possibly.

Again, I am impressed, convicted, and challenged. And I hope you are as well.

Feel free to leave a comment below and/or share this post on Facebook or other social media.

 

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6 thoughts on “IMPRESSED, CONVICTED, AND CHALLENGED

  1. Great reminder. Heard similar in message by my preacher, Jon Weece, at NACC—“lead with grace and land on truth.” Since it keeps coming up in what I’m reading and hearing, I need to pay attention to personal application! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I know I could definitely cultivate a life more filled with gentleness, moderation and humility. Much of the time I am more concerned with what to say or how to respond to someone rather than having listened to appreciate what is being said. Thank you for the reminder, Bob.

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  3. Bob, I love this. I’ve been doing some praying about gentleness and kindness. I have been very head strong and have expressed myself in a not so gentle way. Results..not good. My niece by marriage has influenced me in dealing with my many grandchildren when they are fussing with each other. Every time I am around her and her kiddos are fussing, she always responds in a gentle voice, “Be sweet and kind to each other.” She may have to repeat it. She has said that for many years. She and my nephew’s family are the the most kind, gentle, loving and compassionate family i lnow. They have 4 children and 1 is a special needs. Anyway, i was reading about the fruits of the spirit and God put it upon my heart to work on gentleness and loving kindness. What a difference it has made in my relationships and my closeness to God.
    Please pray for this niece, Debbie Padgett, as she has been in the hospital since May 31st. She had pneumonia, septic shock, was on a ventilator, had kidney failure and is having dialysis, just Hours away from death. She was in MICU for over 3 weeks, then to regular room, now at Vibra Hospital. Her lung has collapsed several times and have recently had to re-insert drain tube in lung. She is still very sick. She is a Godly woman, full of faith. I have purposefully not gone to visit because of my immune system from my surgery last fall and before Christmas. You have to go gown up and wear a mask when you go into her room. If you visit her in the lobby, she has to wear a mask and not us. That was something new to me. Nevertheless. Would you please keep her in your prayers. My nephew had to take a month off from work because she was just touching go. On top of that her oldest daughter who has 22 just had a wreck day before last. Her airbags didn’t inflate so she is very very sore and not able to work. So they’ve really had it rough the last few months.
    Anyway. I sure enjoyed your blog. Blessings to you. Cindy Lewis

    Liked by 1 person

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