Our verse is, "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
And today I'm talking with Lindsay Tully. She is my editor, and I'm so excited for those of you who haven't met Lindsay before! She is just phenomenal. I try to be as theologically sound as possible, but if I'm ever not clear in the way that I write something or say something, Lindsay is right there with just the, "Oh, you know what? You need to add just this little clause right here." It's amazing how clauses change so much for us. Welcome Lindsay!
Lindsay: Thanks so much. It's such a joy to be here.
Natalie: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, talking about this verse, it's a Christian living verse, but I think sometimes it can feel a little heavy to us. It feels like a lot to think about this verse in terms of like, "Am I really compassionate? Am I kind? Am I humble? Am I gentle? Am I patient?" And, you know, just reading through that list, I'm like, "Uh, No. No. No. No.” I mean, I try, I really try. But how do we do this? Why would we do this? What motivates us and what empowers us to live this way? And then I would love to, as we kind of talk through this, just consider how it really is different than I think the ways that we are naturally inclined to live.
Lindsay: Yeah. I think one thing that I love about Paul's writing, but in God's providence, this is his inspired Word. And we are first reminded of what is true and of who God is and who we are before we [00:02:00] are called to live a certain way, which is such good news for us because I find myself trying in my own strength and failing.
And it's when I look at the character of God and who He is, and then remember, because of who Jesus is, this is now who I am. I love that our verse is smack dab in the middle of a passage talking about how you were once these things, but now because of Christ, this is who you are. Then, once we are grounded in that truth and our security and our identity based on Christ's righteousness alone, then we get to live that out in joy instead of in burden, knowing that he is the one who is equipping us to be able to do these things that we've all tried and failed. And so there's hope if you're listening right now and you're feeling like you are stuck or you are trying to do these things and are failing, there is freedom that if you are a believer, if you are in Christ, the Spirit is at work in your life and, and will continue to help you look more like Christ as all of these virtues reflect who our God is.
Natalie: Yeah. We were talking a little bit before we started this conversation on air about how these particular attributes, like you said, Lindsay, are reflective of who Christ is. That because Christ has been compassionate towards us, we can be compassionate towards other people. But there were two specifically that you brought up in a verse from Matthew. Can you share that verse with us and just kind of teach us a little bit about that?
Lindsay: Yeah, absolutely. So I love in Matthew chapter 11 Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened 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." And I just love that we see Jesus describing himself as [00:04:00] gentle and humble, which is so mind blowing.
I think these verses can become really familiar—and that's good when they are familiar to us. But when I was thinking about this, I was struck anew by the fact that this is the creator of all things who holds all things together. He is worthy of all of our worship, and he is so great, and yet, the way he describes himself is by saying that he is humble, and that he is lowly, and that's just not my default . I think I want to be great or I want to be something else. But I love that that's who Jesus says that he is.
Natalie: Yeah. I think we have this “Be Kind” movement. It feels like in our society to be kind is something that we should be or we should have compassion on other people. I think we, generally speaking, are living in a time when people are more compassionate than they've been in the past. More aware of other people's struggles and where they're coming from. Even the concept of patience I think is something that we're maybe more familiar with at least. We may not be particularly good at it, but humility and gentleness to me are both super weird. Like when I read this list, I'm like, "Humility and gentleness? Like gentleness, gentleness?" How is it that I can be gentle and not be sort of, letting everybody else walk all over me? You know what I mean? Or how is it that I can be humble and still be faithful to my calling and living out my purpose and can I make it in the world without self promoting? So how do we kind of hold in tension, the things that this verse is calling us to? Or do we just say, "You know what, sometimes I guess I have to be a doormat." [00:06:00]
Lindsay: Yeah, that's a great question. I think one thing that can happen is we all are conditioned to think about things a certain way, oftentimes with how we're hearing things talked about. And I think with these two words in particular, looking to Scripture to see what the Bible says about gentleness. Where do we see that show up? What does the Bible say about humility? Where do we see that show up? And I've found that there are a number of things that when I really dig into what the Bible says about it, I understand, "Oh, my perception of this was off just a little bit or sometimes maybe a lot." That's probably the first step —looking to see where do we see these things in Scripture? How does God define this? And we know because Jesus describes himself in this way, these are good things. They're beautiful things, even though they're really hard. But I think sometimes I at least can have a distorted view of what these things mean because our perception often is that just must mean I need to be a doormat. And I don't think that that bears out well when we look at what the rest of Scripture says.
Natalie: Yeah, I totally would totally agree with that. You know, even when we think about the idea of humility, like Christ was humble, and yet the Father exalted him. You know? That there is this sort of, Christ is mighty powerful and yet he was also gentle. So like I think that when we hold all of these things in tandem with one another we see that yes we are called to live in a humble way but knowing at the same time that our end is exaltation. In fact, even now we're seated with Christ in the heavenly realms when we believe in him. And so there is this sort of weird juxtaposition that we're always holding of ourselves. [00:08:00] We are humble because we're sinners and none of this we deserve. And yet we have been greatly exalted in a way that is far beyond anything we could ever imagine.
Sometimes when we get a list like this, and I think this list is a good list, it's a list of all the ways that we need to maybe put others above ourselves. Yet there are other lists that we can think of, or other virtues that we have in our Christian identity, that calls us to teach and to speak and to use our gifts in a way that is beyond what we're humanly even gifted with. We have every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus and we can walk in those things as well. So I just think it's an interesting contrast even to hold both of those things in our hands at the same time.
Lindsay: Yeah, I think I've noticed that when my gaze is in the wrong spot is when I have a hard time doing that. When my gaze is on Christ, I'm not then focused on myself and that makes a big difference. I remember in school growing up, I went to a Christian school and on the bulletin board in one of my classes, it said, "JOY.” The J was for Jesus, the O was for others, and the Y was for you.
And so it was kind of this ordering of how to think well. And I think we see this even in our verse. It's like, because these things are true, because you have been chosen by God, this is then how you act towards one another. It also makes me think of Tim Keller's great little book, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness, where he is talking about how C. S. Lewis, talks a bit about this and then Keller draws that out a little bit more and he says, "The essence of gospel humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself. It's thinking of myself less.” So again, I think that just that concept of like, "Where is my focus? Where is my gaze?" And as much as I hate to admit it, it's far too often on myself. It's [00:10:00] like, how am I feeling about something? Or, how do I look at this moment? Things like that. And I feel like when I'm actually looking where I should be, which is at Christ, then these things fall far more naturally into place.
Natalie: So good. Well, Lindsay, we are actually out of time already. That was an amazing conversation. Just a little short guy for you guys out there. But I do think that as we consider this specific verse and these attributes, that's a really great takeaway, Lindsay. To think about whether we’re focusing on ourselves in these things or because we’re focusing on Christ, these things just come naturally? When I'm focusing on who he is and his compassion, his kindness towards me, his humility, his gentleness and patience, how can I not behave in that way towards others? Well, thanks for joining me today, Lindsay. And thank you to all your listeners out there, I'm so glad you got to meet Lindsay. She is such an integral part of our team and it's such a joy to have you with us, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Thanks so much, Natalie.