“Let your gentleness be evident to all”
This week, like many other families, my family has spent much of our time visiting with relatives. We have had so much fun socializing and spending quality time those that we love, often times in their homes. While I so enjoy this time, one thing that has become painfully clear through this holiday season is that the people I love happen own a lot of beautiful, expensive, and oh so very breakable things. Another thing that has become very clear is that my three beloved children get the sudden urge to touch every single one of these beautiful, expensive, and fragile treasures. I've lost count of the number of times I have said “be gentle!” as I watch them furrow their brow in an effort to exude as much gentleness as their little bodies can muster.
Being gentle is difficult for little ones.
Being gentle can be difficult for grown ups too.
It just takes a careless word, a thoughtless action, a frustrated moment and suddenly we can become a bull in a China shop,trampling over those in our path. Or worse, we intentionally go about our lives in a less than gentle way because, well, nice guys finish last after all.
We believe the lie that being gentle leaves us vulnerable and that gentleness is a sign of weakness. Gentleness doesn't equal weakness, but quite to the contrary, I believe that gentleness is a purposeful restraint that requires a great amount of strength. I have heard gentleness explained as “A strong hand with a soft touch”. Displaying a gentle heart is not shying away from conflict, but rather speaking the truth in love.
Jesus (as with all things) is such a beautiful example of gentleness. Not only does he commend gentleness in his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:5), and refers to himself as “gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29), he also displays gentleness in dealing with those around him (John 8:1-11, Matthew 19:13-14). As followers and imitators of Christ, we must not overlook this important character trait of his.
Right about now I usually start asking you, my friends, if you are known as a gentle person; if those around you benefit from your gentle spirit; and I do want you to think about such things, but I also want to take a slight turn and ask you how gentle you are with yourself. You see, I find it somewhat easier to be gentle with those around me than I do actually being gentle with myself. In fact if we all took a field trip inside of my brain you might be shocked as to what you hear. I can be hateful and mean and downright cruel to myself. I harp over failures and nag at my shortcomings. I think things about myself that there is no way I would let anyone else say to me. At times my thoughts can be anything (and everything) but gentle and kind.
Our key scripture says “Let your gentleness be evident to all”. All… meaning ALL… meaning even yourself. I cannot and will not believe that Christ saved us from death just so that we could spend our time tearing down each other and certainly not to tear down our own selves. How good we can be at doing the enemy’s job for him.
Throughout 2018 the phrase “hold every thought captive” kept showing up in my life (I love it when God makes a teachable moment so blatantly obvious, don’t you?). May I encourage you all, like He has encouraged me to take every thought captive and be gentle.
With people you love,
People you hate,
and yes, even with yourself.
Define gentleness in your own words.
Have you come in contact someone specific that showed gentleness to you?
What is your biggest roadblock in showing gentleness to others?
What is your biggest roadblock in showing gentleness to yourself?
Monthly Challenge: Play Date!
Break out the cards or dust off a beloved board game, toss a baseball, or even play a video game. Play any game you choose with your partner, because life is too short to be serious all of the time! ;)
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