While it was very pleasing to me, to stay at the Fruit of Faithfulness for a brief moment, it is now time that I continue on my trip through the Fruit of the Spirit. I find that I am nearing the end of my journey, as I take time to delve into the Fruit of Gentleness. This is one stop that it does me good to linger at.
Even as I say the word, this characteristic is almost foreign to me, and there is a good reason for that. I have been called many things in my life, but Iím almost certain I have never been called gentle. Gentleness is not a characteristic I come by naturally. In fact, more times than I care to admit, Iíve been compared to a bull in a china shop. Yikes! I have to work hard at softening my speech, movements and actions. Itís not that I mean to be bullish, it just sort of happens.
When communicating with others I tend to be direct, and sometimes thatís not taken well. I donít purpose to seem short or harsh, but I do realize that sometimes thatís how it sounds. Iíve learned to get better at thinking about what Iím saying and softening it bit, rather than just blurting it out, but I still have to consciously work at this. I know I can be rather abrupt at times and I certainly donít intend to be.
What is gentleness really? Looking it up, I see that it is soft, calm, amiable, soothing and polite. These are all good things. These are all traits I would like to display naturally and regularly, but know that I do not. However, the Lord is usually pretty faithful in showing me when Iíve lacked gentleness. And as they say, knowledge is power. So with that in mind, I have the power to take the opportunity to cultivate the traits that make up gentleness and grow in that area. As Iíve said many times before, itís all about choice. I get to choose to grow in this, or stay the same.
Choosing to grow in gentleness is one more great way to develop my character from that of being self and worldly-oriented to that of others and spiritually-oriented. The Bible admonishes us to portray gentleness. Philippians 4:5 says, ďLet your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is nearĒ. This tells me that a gentle spirit within me should be obvious to those who meet me. As I emulate the character of my Father, it should be apparent to others, and they should see Him through me.
Many times, we find ourselves in situations in which someone is short with us or angry about something, that we may or may not have had anything to do with. While it is natural to get defensive and respond in kind, that does nothing to solve or ease the situation, but rather it tends to escalate it. Weíre told in Proverbs 15:1, ďA gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Ē Iíve found this is true in my own life. When I respond from my gut, chances are Iím making things worse instead of better. But when I refuse to take offense, tame my tongue, and offer up a softer response, I usually find that starts to open the door to resolution of the problem. Or if doesnít really help to solve the problem, at least it doesnít make things worse.
Iíd like to say Iím there, that Iíve made my way to being a gentle person, but thatís not true. I am however, further along in my quest for gentleness of spirit. And I know if I keep going, Iíll keep getting that much further along. Itís the process allowing the Lord to change me from the inside out and going from glory to glory. I havenít yet arrived, but praise God, Iíve left the gate!
ďTherefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Ē ~ Colossians 3:12