“In Chinese culture the terms “gentle” and “considerate” are often fused in usage. One who is gentle will always have consideration for others and is able to empathise with them and respond in the most appropriate manner.”
BISHOP DR ROBERT SOLOMON’S opening sermon entitled “Becoming Partakers of His Divine Nature” at the recent 10th Session of the General Conference of The Methodist Church in Singapore reminded me of our Lord’s words:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29, NIV)
Christ describes Himself as “gentle” (Greek word: prautes) and “humble” (tapeinos). These are words used to portray the Messiah in Isaiah 42:2, 53:2 and Zechariah 9:9.
Gentleness and humility are probably not regarded as essential criteria in selecting leaders today. What the corporate world looks for are people with drive and spunk, who are enterprising, venturesome, and confident go-getters. Nothing much can be accomplished with gentleness and humility, words which seem to be associated more appropriately with the fairer sex.
Gentleness, an important aspect of Christian character, is a component of the fruit of the Spirit. The word “gentle” in classic Greek language does not mean being timid and helpless. Instead it represents strength and sensitivity combined.
People who are gentle at heart display wisdom, maturity, patience and perseverance in all circumstances. In Chinese culture the terms “gentle” and “considerate” are often fused in usage. One who is gentle will always have consideration for others and is able to empathise with them and respond in the most appropriate manner.
A humble heart best exemplifies the character of Jesus. He was not proud or haughty, not arrogant or assertive. Paul gives this description of the humility of Christ: “Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
How do we become partakers of God’s divine nature? I think it is about being gentle and humble at heart. As pastors, lay leaders, fellow workers or believers, we differ in temperaments and strengths. Jesus has said that He is gentle and humble at heart, and we are to take His yoke and learn from Him. Without such a heart of Jesus, we may be seen by many as arrogant and puffed up.
The Rev Dr Chong Chin Chung is the President of the Chinese Annual Conference.