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Tuesday, July 8

A Fruity Kind of Gentleness

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 I’m 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, I’ve been compared to a bull in a china shop. Yikes! I have to work hard at softening my speech, movements and actions. It’s not that I mean to be bullish, it just sort of happens.

When communicating with others I tend to be direct, and sometimes that's not taken well. I don’t mean to seem short or harsh, but I do realize that sometimes that’s how it sounds. I’ve learned to get better at thinking about what I’m 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 don't 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 I’ve 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 I’ve said many times before, it’s 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, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near”. 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. We’re told in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I’ve found this is true in my own life. When I respond from my gut, chances are I’m 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 doesn’t really help to solve the problem, at least it doesn’t make things worse.

I’d like to say I’m there, that I’ve made my way to being a gentle person, but that’s not true. I am however, further along in my quest for gentleness of spirit. And I know if I keep going, I’ll keep getting that much further along. It’s the process allowing the Lord to change me from the inside out and going from glory to glory. I haven’t yet arrived, but praise God, I’ve left the gate!

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” ~ Colossians 3:12

© 2008 Tracy Keck


Josh said...

It's great that you are recognizing the need to be more gentle. I am sure that having a baby helps with that process. :)

I too am not always the most gentle person. Many times, I think I am helping someone by being blunt and straightforward with them, but then I realize that some people are more sensitive than others and need a gentler disposition.

I'm working at this too. At least we both have left the gate. :)

Joanne Sher said...

Gentleness certainly can be difficult - especially without God's Spirit (and that's what this series is all about, isn't it? :D). Making the choice to consciously follow God's way can be difficult - we we are ALL certainly on our way, aren't we?

Thanks so much for this series, Tracy. Much to learn here!