Isaiah 42:3-4 “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
Have you heard of Tony Dungy? He is a former NFL coach who led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl championship in 2007. You can still find him on TV today commenting on games for NBC. Six or seven years ago Dungy wrote a book titled Quiet Strength. In it he described his style of coaching and approach to life. You see, on one of the first days of training camp he would calmly tell his players, “The way you hear me talking to you now is as loud as you will ever hear me speak.” Unlike so many coaches, he did not raise his voice and scream at his players. He didn’t threaten and insult them. He saw himself primarily as a teacher and mentor. It didn’t mean that he failed to hold players accountable or neglected to correct and discipline them. It meant he did so in a way that continued to show them respect and assure them that he was on their side.
Jesus was not a screamer. He did not “shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets.” No one on earth ever had more reason to be frustrated with the people around him, to be angry about the behavior he saw. The whole world was a rebellious, undisciplined team that ganged up against him. But even when they verbally attacked him he gave composed, winsome answers. He patiently taught and calmly debated. He had compassion. He was gentle and humble. Why?
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” You’ve seen reeds growing from the edge of a lake or near the bank of a river. Once they are bent over and bruised, that plant is beyond repair. You’ve seen a candle wick with just a little glow left. It’s just a matter of time before that last glow goes out. It’s not coming back to life on its own, and sometimes we just pinch it to be done with it.
Jesus did not come to break off those whose spirits were bruised, or snuff out the last light of faith. He came to repair them. He came to rekindle their faith. He himself said it this way to his critics at the house of Matthew the tax collector: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Sometimes we get frustrated with these kind of people. We have weak believers in our church who never come. It’s work to bring them back, and it would just be easier to erase their names. Young Christians start thinking the world’s way. Then they start acting and behaving the world’s way. We would like to shake them, or beat some sense into them. “What’s wrong with you? You know better than this.” Elderly Christians get weary of all the battles and foolishness in their churches. They lose their grip on the promises. They have trouble seeing the comforting face of their Savior behind all his messed up family. So they slip away and disappear into inactivity. Nothing we say convinces them to come back. “Can’t you see we need your help?”
Are we so different? Have you done things that gravely disappoint your Savior? Has your faith been rocked by your own failures, or by the failures of people you thought were strong Christians? Has faith ever dimmed to little more than a fading ember in your heart because God made no sense and seemed so unfair?
Then aren’t you glad the Lord doesn’t shout, and doesn’t break off, and doesn’t snuff out; but he encourages, and he repairs, and he warms and enlightens the beaten, bruised, and battered people he came to save? There is something for everyone of us to appreciate about his methods.