Monday, March 19, 2007

being soft-spoken

We read of the Lord:
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
I must beware in my zeal for what I think is true, to keep my voice down. I am much better than I used to be at this. A large reason for that is God making me humble in the sense of knowing myself and my own struggles and shortcomings. Which is, of course what humility is: simply realizing and acknowledging the truth about oneself.

Jesus didn't have to shout to get his point across, or to have authority from God. It was there already for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Jesus didn't seem to have the outward charisma that we so often look for in Christian leaders. But he acted and spoke from God. And the beauty of his life was seen in his own, remarkable to say, humility. He was fully human as much as any of us (and in a real, true sense, more). And he lived in dependence on the Father, in love obeying to the end, even unto the death of the cross.

I have been blessed on Sunday mornings in recent weeks to sit under the teaching of Ken Soper. He has much that is very thoughtful and thought provoking, to say, and leads us to think things through together, a most enriching experience.

But I guess what has especially stood out for me is how soft-spoken he has been. It has been good for me to sit under that, because at times I can be rather fiery and come across, I'm afraid, in a way that does not always facilitate the work of God done in hearts by the Spirit.

Being soft-spoken. At least that may hold us back from expressing ourselves when we are angry. During such times more often than not, surely we're better off being quiet.

Not to say that Jesus never raised his voice in grief and anger. Matthew 23 is at least one place where surely there was plenty emotion in his voice as he spoke about those who were in opposition to God's work. And we know Jesus wasn't quiet when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers.

But characteristically he epitomized a meekness which was an expression of his confidence in God and in his call that he was seeking to fulfill. Meekness has a sense of being gentle and doing and saying powerful things in stride, as if this is just a normal part of living (which for Jesus, it was).

What about us? How do we relate to one another in our families, in our church communities, to our fellow workers, our neighbors, those in our world? Are we come across more and more in this same way as our Lord?

What might you like to add here from your own thoughts or experience?


Betsy Lin said...

Yeah- I agree. For me there are a lot of things that I am passionate about- my family loves to shop, and I am trying to live a life of simplicity and unnecssary consumerism....but shopping at the mall is how my family bonds, and my parents buying me "stuff" is how they show love. I can only let my choices in life speak to the mean time I try to take the time to find out why it is that my family loves to shop...learning about their passions gives them more reason to learn mine.....
I believe words put up walls...especially when words are given without humilty- and more often then not our words are full of pride!

Ted Gossard said...

Betsy Lin, I so much appreciate your thoughts. Yes. Our words often do put up walls, as you so well express. We need to learn to live and speak as those bringing God's reconcilation and peace, in Christ, to others. And many times that will mean not speaking. Keeping a tight rein on our tongue, as James says. And being slow to speak. For a talker like me, that hasn't been easy. Though I've probably come a long way.

And to live according to the kingdom of God in Jesus. This is a never ending challenge for us, to seek to really follow Christ closely and together. How easy to be sidetracked.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Good post. It is a reminder that good style in communication comes in different forms.

I just posted something about style in speaking and then I read your post. It seems we were thinking about similar things.

Ted Gossard said...

Allan, Thanks. I certainly think in speaking I prefer a conversational style, natural for the speaker. And sometimes that may mean some forceful speaking. But in a teaching setting in which we're aiming for good interactivity, I need to, if anything, turn it down and tone it down a little, at times, when if up front as in a sermon, I might be naturally cranking it up a bit. Even so, this word on being soft spoken, is always a good one for me.

KM said...

Hey Ted: Earlier today I read the uncited thought that "meekness is power under control." Can't find the author anywhere, though everybody seems to be saying it now... thought you might like it nevertheless! If there's anyone who exemplified such meekness, it is Jesus. We're still learnin'!

Ted Gossard said...

KM, I love that description of meekness: power under control. It is not some weak kind of existence though weakness in itself being present is a part of our human existence. And you're right, we're learning. And the goal being the stature of Christ, we'll always be working to be more and more closer to that. Thanks!