Over the past few weeks, we have learned about what it means to live a holy and pleasing life for the Lord. We have talked about living a life full of faith, being kind to others, and seeking joy during difficult circumstances. Today, I want to continue this series with gentleness.
WHAT IS GENTLENESS:
When the Bible mentions gentleness, most of the time, it is speaking about how we should act gently with one another.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:14-15
What I find so interesting and wonderful about the different attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, is that they are all somewhat connected to each other. For example, gentleness is related much to kindness and love. But just by living in a manner that is holy to God, we are embracing all the attributes of the Spirit in a united way.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-2
WHAT DOES THE LORD TEACH US ABOUT GENTLENESS:
When I think of the word gentleness, I think of my words. The words that I chose to use when speaking with others and the meaning behind those words. Many things flow from our heart, but one that is deadly to ourselves and those around us are the words we speak.
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” – Matthew 15:18-19
Think about it, when we are connecting and interacting with each other, the majority of the time, we are speaking words to others. But the question is “Are we using a gentle heart when speaking to those around us?”
Here’s where I don’t want to confuse you though. Having a gentle heart does not mean you are a pushover. It doesn’t mean things don’t bother you or you can’t stand up for yourself. You totally can. But it is in the way you do it that is the kicker. The attitude you use, the way you speak your words, and the meaning behind it.
I have been reading a book called “Speak Love” by Annie Downs. I recently found it at Barnes and Noble, and I truly just thought “You know, I need to take the time to get better at learning to be more mindful of the words I speak and acknowledge when my words can hurt.” But one point Annie brings up is that we learn how to act in a holy manner by learning about God.
“God is our example. How God uses His words is how we can learn to use ours.” – Annie Downs
We see God using His words to create life at the beginning of Genesis. We also see God using His words through the life of Jesus. When Jesus was ministering or fellowshipping with His disciples, Jesus would stand up for Himself and His Father even when people tried to attack Him. However, He did it gently.
I truly think the reason Jesus was able to speak in such a way (other than being God Himself) was that He loved everyone around Him. His heart was good, gentle, kind, and true and it allowed Him to speak gently and lovingly to those around Him.
LIVING WITH A GENTLE HEART:
I don’t have a perfect answer for living with a gentle heart, but I can tell you the things I try to do.
Learn from God’s words. Reading scripture and meditating on how God speaks to those, such as Abraham, Moses, and Noah gives me a way of how I should handle my interactions with those around me. And learning about how Jesus speaks to those around Him, gives me hope that I can speak truth in the life of others because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
“for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” – Luke 12:12
Set your mind on things above. I was reminded this past week that in a lot of situations when I get frustrated, overwhelmed, or confused in life, things really aren’t as bad as they seem. And things could always be worse. We will suffer in this life. But remember that this is our temporary home and a heavenly kingdom is in store for us in the future.
“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.” – Hebrews 11:16
Be mindful and take your time. It is very important to allow yourself time to think before you speak. I think we live in such a busy and rushed world that we are used to immediately putting our words on paper or out into the world. But, it is perfectly okay to take time with your words.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19
I hope that this week, you can not only see how God is speaking to you in different ways around you, but you can learn more about how God sees you and loves you. Be gentle with those around you and with yourself. Take things day by day and focus on the present place God has you in.