Have you ever agreed with someone in theory, but their attitude about the subject was so negative you had trouble listening to them? That may be because they lacked our next fruit—gentleness.
Once again we see that what’s on the inside directly affects what comes out in public view. If we are bold, but brazen, it will come forth. If we are overtly opinionated, it will spew out with venomous fervor.
A few years ago, I participated in an inter-denominational Bible study. I loved the format, the in-depth study, and the variety of insights from group discussions. In all those years, only one time did I have strong disagreement with the teaching.
Well do I remember the day when I walked up the driveway to go into a fellow group member’s house for a fellowship time. I had been thinking and stewing over this teaching and how I had firm disagreement with it. I had both barrels ready to plead my case.
But as I walked up the driveway, I thought about my attitude. During that period of time, I had been focusing, one at a time, on the fruit of the Spirit. In that moment, the Lord hit me with the spirit of gentleness. “It’s time, Joyce. Your next focus needs to be on ‘gentleness.’ “
I still felt strongly about the teaching, but I gave my explanations in an entirely different manner than I would have one minute earlier. Attitude is everything.
I’m having a most difficult time with politics right now. Aren’t we all? Our senses have been dulled by this unmannerly game we play. It seems that, in the arena of politics, name calling, inaccurate, slanderous statements flow freely from all parties and we’re expected to accept it because, after all, it’s just politics. Who do you believe? How do you know the true facts?
Or think of social issues. We may have strong opinions, but sometimes those with whom we agree are so obnoxious in their defense of their opinion, we just want to hide or call out, “I’m not like him!”
Bringing it closer to home, think of those moments when you were so irritated with someone at work or with one of your children or your spouse, that you let out your frustration in an explosive manner. It probably accomplished very little. A gentle word—firm, but gentle, usually accomplishes much more.
From the Proverbs:
A gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1
From Paul to the Philippians:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5
From Paul to Timothy—his actions should be:
…not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome… I Timothy 3:3
Other Scriptures couple gentleness with humility, patience, and respect.
I think of Jesus being gentle with those he healed and those who had a hard time understanding. He remained gentle, even after a long day of teaching and healing.
May we move into our days with a gentle spirit, humble, respectful, firm, but gentle. I would love to hear how that fruit comes to life for you this week.
~ Joyce ~