God's Words: Gentleness
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
“Gentleness” is a word that deals with how a believer accepts difficult times and situations in their life. Things may happen in our lives that don’t please us, but if we have a gentle heart, we are able to respond in a loving and graceful way, as our Father has done with us.
Paul expressed it this way in 1 Corinthians 4:21 when he said,
“What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”
That is what God wants for our life – that we respond to other people, not with a rod or anger, but “with love in a spirit of gentleness.”
Still, none of us have a perfect spirit of gentleness, so God will be refining us in this way for our whole lives. When we recognize God trying to teach us something through conflict, it allows us to see these growing times as very good times. When that happens, we do not become angry or bitter and argue with Him about it, but instead embrace it and accept it as being something that will greatly benefit our life.
So, how is this quality of “gentleness” actually worked into my life?
This quality is generally best seen in how we respond to people in our lives who irritate us. We should never ignore what irritates us because an irritation simply shows that we have areas of our lives that need additional development. God knows what areas of our life need to be changed, so very often He allows people into our life that will greatly frustrate us in order to alert us to the areas that He wants to change so that we can become more like Christ. The person that frustrates us is actually a God-sent tool to draw attention to what needs to be changed.
A real-world example of gentleness
Recently I had someone who mistreated me and gave me no explanation as to why. I contacted them several times by phone, email, and texting, but they never responded back. This is a person that I have loved, prayed for and supported for years and I have asked numerous times that God would bless their life and ministry.
Honestly, I was confused, but the tough situation drove me closer to God. As I prayed and sought what God wanted me to do, I felt a strong sense that I was to continue to love this person in the same way that I always had: keep texting them with words of encouragement and heartfelt love like I always had and keep privately praying for God’s deep work in their life.
In the end, I realized that all of this was just God was wanting to change me, to test me, and to help me grow in understanding how He loved and responded to people who mistreated Him. I was humbled by how God was wanting to work in my life. He wanted to show me that I have to demonstrate His love to those who may mistreat me, just as He did for us sinners.
What is the evidence that I may not be responding properly to God’s work in this area of my life?
Generally, it is probably becoming easily angry with someone. We lose our patience and temper, say things we shouldn’t say and act in ways we shouldn’t act. These difficult moments should alert us to the fact that God is actually wanting to work in our life. I realized a long time ago that I could never change anyone, but that I could allow God to change me and to develop the character of Christ in my life. So, for a long time that has become the focus of my life – to simply allow God to use the difficult and trying moments to reveal areas of my life that He wants to conform to the image of Christ.
No matter how difficult it may seem at times to do so, in the end we all will find that the fruit of God’s work yields great blessings in our life. So, never be afraid to yield yourself to God’s deeper work of making you to be more and more like Jesus Christ.
Pray this week:
Lord, when people do things that frustrate and irritate me, please help me to respond to their hurt with a spirit of gentleness that deeply reflects your amazing Son.
What does it take to really upset me, to irritate me, and to cause me to complain?