Saturday, March 8, 2008

JUICY FRUITY GENTLENESS - Juicy Fruit of the Spirit - Part 10 - March 9, 2008

“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you.”
2 Corinthians 10:1

Chivalry is not dead, at least not for those who follow Christ. Christ was—and is—chivalrous. He is our Knight in Shining Armor.

When I was seventeen, I saw the movie, “Camelot,” and fell in love with King Arthur. I also fell in love with Lancelot. I loved Arthur because he was honorable and good. I fell in love with Lancelot because he was gorgeous (Franco Nero)! …and they were both gentle.

GENTLE? Yep! Knights adhere to a code of ethics called “chivalry.” To be chivalric, you must be “loyal, courteous, protective, and gentle and honorable to all, including enemies.” A knight seeks love and glory, not for himself, but for his lady and his king. Knights are courageous, humble, obedient, and chaste, and they live by three things: courage, honor, and fidelity. Knights are frequently described as “debonair,” which in medieval times meant “gentle” and “courteous.”

Knights answered to their military leader, but they also followed the church codes which stressed “protection, humility, and service to the weak and poor.” They were devoted to the Virgin Mary, and respected, worshiped, and revered women. “Knights upheld their lady’s every ‘whim or desire’, no matter what the cost, even if it meant death.”

At seventeen, I thought the Middle Ages would have been such a romantic time to be alive—that is, if I survived the Black Plague. I’ll just have to be content with being a product of the 70’s and the Women’s Liberation Movement. And for the purposes of this article, I will look at gentleness and chivalry from this perspective—because men and women alike are to be the Knights of God’s Round Table.

The terms “gentleness” and “meekness” are often used interchangeably, but Paul pairs them up when he refers to, “the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:1) Humility is also tossed into the mix, as in Ephesians 4:2 where Paul instructs us to “be completely humble and gentle.”

“As apostles of Christ,” Paul states, “we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7) I love this image—it reminds me of being a grandma, and I don’t think I’ve given you an update for awhile on my grandson, Evan, who is now five months old—but I digress…

Another image of gentleness is that of a horse who has been tamed. A gentled horse remains strong and powerful, and yet is controlled and steered by its owner. As Christians, we are to be teachable, allowing God to mold us into the persons God created us to be. Our tongues and our actions are powerful, yet controlled. Our strength comes from giving God the reigns of our lives.

Jesus invites us to “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) We are yoked together with our spouses, children, parents, coworkers, friends, and relationships require cooperation, tolerance, patience, courtesy, selflessness…gentleness and humility.

And last, but not least, is the image of the Good Shepherd: “He tends His flock like a shepherd,” prophesied Isaiah, speaking of Christ, the Messiah. “He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11) When we are gentle, we carry people close to our hearts, just like our Shepherd carries us. We are all broken and fragile in different ways, we all go astray, and we are to treat one another with the gently.

In sum, Christian chivalry involves giving ourselves in service to humanity, in service to our King. Our Code of Ethics emphasizes gentleness, meekness, and humility. We are to be gentle like a mother, and like a shepherd; gentled like a horse or oxen; and as gentle as a knight in service to the Virgin Mary, his king, and his lady.

“Chivalry is dead”? I certainly hope not!

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