"To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." Titus 3:2
Gentleness isn't talked about very much. And it isn't a quality that gets a lot of praise or admiration. When we think gentle, we think weak. Unless you're talking about a baby, gentle isn't the most sought after characteristic. So, why would we see this, of all traits, part of the fruit that God wants us to be empowered by the Spirit to bear? Is God wanting His children to be doormats, unheard, and ignored? Not at all. Our culture and the world at large may not value gentleness, but God's ways are quite different than ours--thankfully!
"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." Proverbs 15:4
When we deal with people in a gentle way, what we say and what we do will make a much greater impact. When we are gentle, God's power will work through us to bring glory to Him and further His kingdom. When we consider what gentleness means, we can look to having attitudes of courteousness, kindness, and humility as part of being gentle. This is how the Lord instructs us to behave.
I recall a situation many years ago when I had a disagreement with someone I worked with. We were discussing the issue, not hearing each other, and I just left the room mid-conversation. When I think of it now, I'm embarrassed by that choice. I wasn't very gentle, and we surely lacked courtesy, kindness and humility in how we interacted with each other. A couple years later, this response of mine almost kept me from another opportunity to serve and minister. Thankfully, the Lord was gracious and I am constantly in the process of sanctification. In the year following that encounter, I realized that I didn't handle the disagreement well and when I had the chance, I apologized and admitted that storming out of the office wasn't the righteous thing to do. Gentleness is about respecting all people and treating others in a godly way. That isn't an option, it is a fruit we must bear as believers.
"But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:4
If gentleness is precious in God's sight, then that's a fruit I definitely want to bear. I am naturally bold and strong-willed. But that doesn't mean I can't be gentle. The make up of my character is God-inspired, it's not contrary to His ways, but is perfectly in sync with who He made me to be. That means we can control our personalities to bear fruit, and to bring glory to God rather than achieving our own selfish agendas.
I am so grateful that as I've gotten further along in my walk with the Lord, I've realized that I can either use my strengths and personality for God's gain or my own. When I stormed out of that office, I was only concerned with myself and being right. What I've learned since then is that what I truly desire to do is to live, speak, and action righteously so that I can help others, serve others, care for others, and love in the way that God wants me to love.
"With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2
Maybe gentleness comes naturally to you. I encourage you to not be ashamed of that part of who you are, but to remember that God made you that way, and wants us all to bear that fruit. And if you're like me, and gentleness comes a little harder, just know that God can transform you in incredible ways so that you can do more for His kingdom and make a difference in the lives of those you encounter. I don't think of Peter as the most gentle person in the Bible, but God used him to establish the church. None of us are out of God's reach and we are all able to be part of the work of the Spirit when we give our hearts and our lives over to the Lord. As we grow in gentleness, we will be carriers of peace and represent God's goodness in a world so in need.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that you are a gentle God. That you deal with us in tender ways and that your love is unconditional. Gentleness may seem hard to practice, but we ask that you would empower us to be gentle people. That we would be respectful, humble, and put others first. Help us understand how we can be more gentle and help us to bear this fruit that at times seems so unattainable. With you, all things are possible. Amen.
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