Reverence and Gentleness


Prompted by a phrase in the New Testament (1 Peter 3:16), I’ve been pondering the vital importance of reverence and gentleness.  

Reverence is about acknowledging our limits.  I don’t know everything and can’t do everything.  Sometimes, I am wrong about what I think I know, and I make a mess out of the things I do. There are gifts and talents I don’t have, questions I am not smart enough to ask, much less to answer, and needs I have which I can’t possibly meet on my own.  

My limits call me to celebrate the capacities and abilities of other people. They deserve my respect, delight, and gratitude for who they are and what they can do.  Because their limits are not the same as mine, they teach, help, and inspire me.  They open me to the wonder of God’s creativity and artistry in their lives.   

Reverence means respecting reality—seeing the truth, shaping our lives to match it, honoring the demands of the present moment, and coming to terms with the lives we have in the here and now.

Most of all, reverence means being awestruck over the greatness, graciousness, and goodness of God.  We listen for God’s voice amid all the others, enact God’s ways in our daily lives, and reflecting the divine spirit of love and life in our relationships with other people.

We need reverence, because it takes us beneath superficiality to the sacred dimensions of life.  We also need gentleness, crave tenderness, yearn for understanding, and long for compassion.  Unfortunately, we have a way of forgetting how healing a lingering gaze, a soft voice, a light touch, common laughter, shared tears, a whispered prayer, and a slower pace can be.  There is far too much rush, hurry, pressure, and force in most of our lives.  There is, though, sweet music in tenderness, renewed life in gentleness, and restoring love in compassion.

As amazing as it is, I trust it to be the gospel truth that Jesus has reverence for us.  He treats us with respect, honor, and dignity.  He has given, and is giving, his whole life to convince you how much we matter to him and to the world.  He wants us to matter to ourselves.

And, Jesus has gentleness for us.  In every moment of our lives, he says to us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”