Bible Study

The Pull of Gravity

Michael Beck

The word translated “gravity” in the New Testament is the Greek word, semnotes, which means the characteristic of a thing or person which entitles to reverence and respect; possessing dignity, majesty; venerable.

There is a respect due people simply by virtue of their position to us.

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. (Matthew 15:4)

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)

There is an additional respect people earn because of the character they demonstrate.

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31)

Gravity goes beyond positional respect. Gravity is earned respect.

Gravity cannot be demanded, it must be won

Those considered for leadership in the church must possess gravity gained through the manner with which they conduct themselves and their households.

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (1 Timothy 3:2-5)

Gravity is the first qualification for deacons and their wives.

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (1 Timothy 3:8,9)

grave > Greek – semnos > honorable, august, reverend, to be venerated for character

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11)

All members of the church (both old and young) are to possess gravity.

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (Titus 2:2-8)

Why is gravity such an important quality of leadership?

A leader’s ability to instruct and admonish depends on the level of esteem they are accorded.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over youin the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13)

People listen to those they respect.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. (Numbers 27:18-20)

What is the effect of possessing gravity?

When we possess gravity we “pull” people toward us. 

Possessing gravity causes another to seek out our counsel and allows us to be an influential force in their life.

Job was an influential leader in his community when he possessed gravity

When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street! The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up. The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth. When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me (Job 29:7-11)

Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel. After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them. And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain. If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down. I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners. (Job 29:21-25)

Gravity once gained can be lost (justly or unjustly.)

Job unjustly lost his gravity.

But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock. (Job 30:1)

What is the effect of losing gravity?

People “floated away” from Job when he lost gravity. 

He was ignored and no longer had power to draw and influence those around him.

He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth. My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body. Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. (Job 19:13-19)

Our reputation can attract or repel people.

A good name is better than precious ointment … (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot. (Proverbs 10:7)

Even a little “folly” can cause a leader who previously attracted us to become repellent.

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

Children naturally wish to bestow honor on their fathers.

Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. (Proverbs 17:6)

Through the display of anger (and other vices,) parents can lose the natural “glorying” of their children and the authority to speak into their children’s lives.

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. (Proverbs 22:8)

rod > Hebrew noun – shebet > scepter (mark of authority)

fail > Hebrew verb – kalah > to come to an end, to be finished, to be destroyed, to vanish

For the sake of God’s potential ministry through us we must be on guard against creating an offense.

Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed (2 Corinthians 6:3)

The enemy seeks every opportunity to diminish or destroy the potential good influence of the believer.

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give noneoccasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. (1 Timothy 5:14)

Every believer who possesses gravity has a golden opportunity to be a godly influence on others.

Only by being “careful to maintain good works” will such an opportunity continue.

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:8)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.