He Could Have But He Didn’t

There’s an image of gentleness that I can’t get out of my head. It’s of Jim giving our son his first shampoo at the hospital. My husband had never bathed a child, much less one a few hours old. But here he is holding onto Nathan as if he’s a priceless work of art. Truth is, Nathan is a priceless work of art created by God. Jim knew that. Jim knew that for him and for Brady. Because of that knowledge, Jim treats both boys with the gentleness (and me, as well). Jim imitates the gentleness of Christ. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear gentleness?

“A gentle person is not controlled by the response of others; they are controlled by God.”

That statement (author unknown) stings a little for me because it points out how much farther I still have to go in my faith. I still have to travel to the point where gentleness is a natural response that comes from a place of humility and trust of God’s work in my life. The trust is there, but the humility is often hiding behind a rock of hurt or misunderstanding. When I block humility, I block God from controlling my responses.

My husband will be the first to tell you I care deeply about others; he will also be the first to tell you that my facial expressions don’t always match my feelings or they match way too much. He often reminds me to check my face or to try to keep a poker face going. Its roots run deep for me. Beyond having a mother who speaks her opinions clearly and with facial expressions, is there something deeper within that is a stumbling block to my responding with gentleness?

I find hope in seeing the rare times where Jesus was outraged by circumstances and didn’t always respond with gentleness.

John 8:1-11 is a beautiful example of his gentleness. While others were attacking a woman caught in adultery, Jesus reminded them no one is without sin. I picture Him gently reminding the woman to sin no more because He has not condemned her. Can you imagine? Jesus, innocent, pure, loving, kind Jesus telling you He is giving you grace with a gentle rebuke. I’m pretty certain if I were in her shoes I would be in a puddle at His feet. The amazing part is, He offers that constantly to each of us for all of our sins. Which may explain my frequent tears. 

Y’all, Jesus could have done some damage, think of Who He is and Who He belongs to, the Almighty, the Beginning and the End. Yet, He reigned in His anger with those who wanted to condemn. He controlled His great power, strength, and passion by reminding them of what was said in Scripture. Jesus showed off His natural gentleness in this passage and proves it is part of His power.

The all-powerful Jesus could have responded harshly. He could have yelled at the stone throwers and the adulterer. But He didn’t. He corralled His power and showed gentleness.

My struggle to be more like Him is a constant effort to show gentleness in times of stress, in times of uncertainty, and in times of doubt. In moments when anger or disappointments overwhelm me I am reminded of the gentleness with which Jesus used for the woman and for those stone throwers. Do I want to be a stone thrower or do I want to be known for gentle redirection? I know what Jesus would do…

Shea