He will not quarrel (strive, argue) or cry aloud (shout), nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised (battered) reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench. – Matthew 12:19-20a ESV (NKJV/CSB/others)
These words are a prophecy from Isaiah 42 that Jesus quotes in reference to himself. They show a contrast to gentleness, what gentleness is not.
Jesus does not quarrel (strive, argue, fight, brawl). He does not cry aloud (shout, yell, rant, scream). In other words, he is not a loud-mouth. All of this is the opposite of gentleness. When we are yelling or loud or quarreling with people, we are not being gentle.
But Jesus was gentle with people, and we are given two great pictures of his gentleness. First, a bruised or battered reed is easily broken, but Jesus is so gentle he doesn’t break it. Second, a smoldering wick is ready to go out, but Jesus carefully blows it back to life.
These pictures are about people. Jesus reached out to bruised, battered, and smoldering people with a gentle love that healed, restored, and revived. This gentle love gave new life to the hurting, weeping, sick, and oppressed. This gentle love gave forgiveness to the sinner.
More often than we think, the people around us are bruised, battered, smoldering, weary, tired, and fragile. We need to follow Jesus’ example and treat one another carefully, with great gentleness that builds up and gives life.
In what situations in your life do you need to rest in the gentle love of your Savior?
In what situations are you tempted to quarrel or yell?
In what specific ways can you treat others carefully this week to build up and give life?