The Calling of Gentleness

Look in the news, or on popular Christian social media accounts and blogs, or even just just down the pew.  You will find Christians who disagree on everything from politics to social issues, to the interpretation of the book of Revelation.  Sincere Christians don’t agree on everything.  What governs how we respond to other Christians when we don’t agree?  What is our primary purpose?

Ephesians 4:1-3  implores us to:

 . . . walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We are to remember that all Christians are part of one body.  Despite our differences we have one Lord.  What a precious gift!

We can’t endorse a false peace that tells the oppressed to be quiet in the name of unity, but we can work to preserve the unity of the Spirit by being gentle – gentle with the hurts of others; gentle to the friend at church that tells you they were crushed by the way someone you respect treated them; gentle to the single mom who feels condemned by the sermon on marriage; gentle to the friend who feels like their views on social issues are scorned by their fellow Christians; gentle to the spouse who disagrees with you on what living out faith looks like in your household.  Gentle looks like saying, “I see you and your hurts, and I’m going to come along side you and bear your burden with you.”  We can encourage and edify, but it’s probably most important first to empathize.  Weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).  Make no mistake.  We can disagree sharply on important issues, but we should never let that disagreement distract us from the fact that we agree on the most important issue:  that we need Jesus and He is our savior. When we are gentle, we communicate our relationship with Jesus Christ and that His mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13).

Gentleness does the work of the Lord in relationships in a way our own bravado cannot.  Ask the Lord how you can walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness.

About the Writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

 

Advertisements

Raw and in Need of Wisdom

People are messy. I’m not talking peanut-butter-in-the-hair kind of messy, although sometimes that happens. I’m talking about the someone-pouring-out-her-heart-and-letting-friends-into-her-personal-world kind of messy. I was chatting with a friend one day and we exchanged prayer requests. A few hours later I looked at her and said, “Okay, now what’s your REAL prayer request?” Then the true conversation began and I got a glimpse into her heart.

Life’s valleys can be lonely, so let’s all open the doors of our hearts a little wider to let in some conversations that might be a little tarnished and a lot raw. Let’s be willing to hear the deep groaning of our friends’ souls. Prepare your heart and your mind with the truth of God’s word so that you are equipped to redirect their needs and their worries to Him.

Community is a beautiful gift that God has given us, but it comes with warnings and a need for wisdom. We all bring our own perspectives and some baggage from past hurts. By allowing others to be close to us, we expose weaknesses and we test our patience. To build meaningful community and serve one another, we will undoubtedly encounter friction. In these moments, gentleness becomes crucial for persevering in our relationships.

In times of dissension in relationships in my own life, I return to this passage in James about Godly wisdom.

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom… For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.(James 3:13, 16-17)

Each of these descriptors of wisdom reigns in a portion of my natural reaction, until my response becomes kind and graceful. This power-packed verse is a reminder of how desperate we are for God’s wisdom in our daily lives. And in our seeking for this gentle and peaceable wisdom, it’s important to remember “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

 

Strong Hand With a Soft Touch

I use to dream of being gentle. Then I was hurt. Again. Again. Again. I wanted to be mean. I wanted to be heard. If not for the grace of God, I would be that person still. Then entered the gentleness of God (1 Kings 19:12) like a soft breeze speaking words of truth and direction.
God, among other things, is gentle. He was described as gentle by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus even called Himself “gentle” (Matthew 11:29) and said those who are gentle are blessed (Matthew 5:5). He called us to be gentle (Ephesians 4:2). He said gentleness is an expression of the fruit of God’s Spirit in the life of a believer (Galatians 5:23).
What then makes the gentleness of God possible for Him and difficult for us? For me, it is desiring my gentleness to be rewarded—naively holding onto something like a chimera, the idea that, if I am thoughtful and kind enough to someone else, he will be happy and never do me harm—quite different from God’s calling to walk in gentleness.
When Christ showed gentleness, most people were mocking Him, spitting on Him, saying false things about Him, even crucifying Him. Yet, He was gentle. When Apostle Paul said, in Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near,” he was in prison. In 1 Peter chapter 3, where Peter was urging wives to be gentle in their attitudes and behaviors to their husbands, it was amidst an exhortation to women with unbelieving husbands. None of those situations promise a change of heart or a good response from the ones we are called to show gentleness to. 
Someone once said that “gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch.” It is the ability to speak the truth in love, guarding overtones and expressions so that the truth might be more easily received. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. 
So why do it? Why not speak the truth without love? Why not close one’s heart when it hurts so deeply? Why put up with someone else’s weaknesses when you could even more easily abandon ship? Why not write off others’ faults as “their” problem? The answer is clear! Do not think for a moment that you can experience the abundance of the kingdom of God while walking in opposition to Him (Galatians 5). 
The promise in the Beatitudes for the gentle is that they will inherit the earth. And, in Psalm 37, this promise is again repeated: 
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity…
Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. (Psalm 37:7-11, 34)
If the hope of God’s faithfulness to a courageous woman who trusts in the Lord is not enough, if rising up to the example set by Christ Himself is not enough, if compassion towards the weaknesses of another sinful human being is not enough, ask God to whisper His Word in your heart…”A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).
About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

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. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24

One such quality that derives from the Holy Spirit’s work in a believer’s life is that of gentleness. This particular attribute carries much influence in mirroring our Lord Jesus while expressing its effectiveness daily.  I do not remember a time, when leaving the presence of an individual who displayed gentleness, remaining unaffected.

The sphere of influence which gentleness displays is spirit-led and incredibly impactful. We are called to express this attribute through

  1. How we walk.
  2. How we express ourselves to others.
  3.  How we correct those who are in opposition.
  4.  How we defuse a matter with another person.
  5.  How we deal with a brother or sister who is in sin.

Through Gentleness, we are implored to walk in this way:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB)

Through Gentleness we are to express ourselves to others:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5 NASB)

Through Gentleness we are to correct those who are in opposition:

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NASB)

Through Gentleness we are to diffuse a matter with another person:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1 NASB)

Through Gentleness we are to deal with a brother or a sister who are in sin:

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1 NASB)

Gentleness is the result of the Holy Spirit’s Work in our lives.

The Holy Spirit works in the heart of man to create an attitude of gentleness. In surrendering to His control in the process of such a production, we must make a decision to put it on as a garment of obedience, daily. For in “doing life” with others, gentleness will always reflect Jesus’ heart, while our flesh will reflect our own sinful desires.

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of four and enjoys both roles tremendously. She also loves the opportunity to serve through ministry and share through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and will begin her doctoral work at Southwestern in family ministries in the fall.