Archives for : June2020

Has Gentleness Become a Thing of the Past?

Has Gentleness Become a Thing of the Past?  By Sharon Sheppard

Because music has been one of the grand passions of my life, I’ve surrounded myself with musical instruments. The piano, which was my first love, is still my instrument of choice, and I play it every day. My skill is only mediocre on the other instruments, but they still give me pleasure in spite of my limited performance capabilities.

One day when a friend and her three-year-old stopped in, I could see him eyeing the ukulele that leaned against the hearth.

“Would you like to play it?” I asked. “You can play if you’re gentle with it,” I said.

Because a ukulele looks like a miniature guitar, I’m sure he expected rock and roll volume. But after a few strums, he handed it back to his mother. “Needs a battery,” he said.

We’ve become accustomed to a lot of noise and bravado in our culture. We’re urged to be assertive, make our voice heard, and to “Look out for Number One.”

  • Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts; prominent presidential candidate:

“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.”

  • Bryant McGill, Best-selling author on Human Potential: “Choose to be pro-active, assertive, and self-defining.”
  • Nathaniel Branden, Canadian/American psychotherapist (now deceased) specializing in the area of self esteem: “To live assertively—which means to live authentically—is a high act of courage…”

There is certainly a case to be made for assertiveness (in the right setting and for the right  motives), but it often involves trading gentleness and humility for our own self-aggrandizement. 

Oswald Chambers, a Scottish evangelist who preached throughout the U.K., as well as the U.S. and Japan, died at the age of 43 while a chaplain to British troops in World War I, but his influence lives on through his classic book, “My Utmost for His Highest.”

In it he asks this question, which expresses the epitome of a person who is gentle: “Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble as I get older? Am I exhibiting a life [that reflects] having been with Jesus, or am I about getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way?”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) 

Trading Anger for Gentleness

Trading Anger For Gentleness   By Mary Zigan

“I’ll never forgive you!” my daughter yelled at me.

At the moment, I didn’t care. I was furious about her behavior, and to teach her a lesson, I let her know it by strapping her legs with her dad’s belt.

Though that was some 40 years ago, I can still feel the sting of regret when I think about my outburst. I was an angry woman back then, a rough and tumble hothead who had lost her way. I had been violated, a victim of abuse myself, and I was volatile. I didn’t trust anyone, and yet I wanted someone.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was trying to find what I had lost, and I was looking for it in other people, in my work, and in excess food, but none of these could fill the emptiness.

Shortly after that incident with my daughter, I vividly remember sitting with a cup of coffee in the living room one morning, looking out the window and asking myself, “Is this all there is to life?” Then I cried out: “God, if you are real, come into my life and take up residence. I am a mess, and everyone and everything around me is a mess.”

The transformation didn’t happen overnight, but I have since learned that the opposite of anger is gentleness, which is the Fruit of the Spirit we are featuring in our blog this month. Gentleness means, in part: restrained behavior toward others. 

What a contrast! We can act in ways toward others that either help or hurt. And with our words and actions we can choose what influences will inform or misinform. Gentleness constrains and channels that power.

To be gentle is to recognize that God’s ways and thoughts are high above our own understanding (Isaiah 55:9). This change is not something we can make in our own power. It is the work of God in us. The gentleness of Jesus is bestowed on those who open their heart to Him. It’s a wondrous working of grace and transformation. And this gift is for all who will completely submit to God as Lord of their lives.

God’s gentleness places our willfulness under His guidance, and in its place, He gives us His help as a powerful tool in learning to love others. What a precious gift!