Journey to Gentleness

Maria I. MorganBlog Archive, Understanding God's Plan

Journey to Gentleness

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘gentle’? I think of all things baby – delicate, careful treatment of the helpless. But it’s so much more than that.

As believers, we should treat others in a calm, kind, and tender manner – yes, even when we’re inconvenienced or treated rudely. Sounds impossible, right? The good news is that ‘gentleness’ is a fruit of the Spirit, so we don’t have to muster it up on our own. We can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

The next couple weeks we’ll take a look at what gentleness looks like when we yield to the Holy Spirit.

*The following is an excerpt for my Bible study, Outrageously Fruitful.

A Life Lesson

The bill came in the mail as usual. I was familiar with the amount we paid each month for our utilities, so I was shocked by the figure that was staring back at me from our cable statement. Since we had been without our land line, internet, and cable for a few days following a severe thunderstorm, I expected the opposite effect: a lower bill.

A quick look at the receipt revealed a couple problems. We hadn’t been credited for the days we were without service, and we had been charged for a 12-month service protection plan we hadn’t purchased. I was pretty irritated.

It was probably a good thing I didn’t have time to take care of it immediately. I think I would have accused the unsuspecting service person of purposely overcharging us. Surely this had to be a plot. The company was trying to pull one over on us. My words would have been anything but gentle.

Just the facts

Fortunately, some time passed before I called the company. Instead of reacting emotionally to the mix-up, I was able to stick to the facts. The service person was extremely helpful – apologizing for the mistakes and promptly crediting our account for the days we were without service and for the protection plan we hadn’t wanted.

I learned a valuable lesson: A gentle response when faced with an irritating situation accomplishes far more than responding in anger.

The book of Proverbs says it best:

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.Proverbs 15:1

Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life.

The Holy Spirit’s power can help you replace harsh words with gentle words.

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A Word from God’s Word

I love seeing someone stand up for the underdog. Don’t you? There’s just something about one person encouraging another who isn’t expected to do well, that stirs the heart of compassion in me. You probably feel the same way.

John Mark, a disciple in the New Testament, fits the bill of an underdog. He had gone on a missionary journey with the apostle Paul, and Barnabas. For some unknown reason John decided to return home prematurely.

He may have been discouraged by the persecution they had faced on their trip, or maybe he just missed his hometown. Whatever the reason, John Mark’s decision to leave rubbed Paul the wrong way. As a result, Paul lost all respect for this young man.

Time passed and Paul and Barnabas were planning a return visit to the believers in the towns they had initially visited. They wanted to check in with their brothers and sisters in Christ and help them continue to grow in the Lord. There was only one problem. Barnabas had chosen to bring a travelling companion with them whom Paul had rejected.

An argument

Paul was adamant that John Mark not come with them. He was shocked that Barnabas would suggest such a thing when John had left them in the middle of their previous mission trip. In Paul’s mind, John was not reliable and wasn’t fit for the ministry. A huge argument followed.

Barnabas stood up for John Mark and was willing to give him a second chance. Paul and Barnabas ended up going their separate ways: Paul took Silas and travelled to the churches in Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas partnered with John Mark and sailed to the churches in Cyprus.

Barnabas was convinced that God could still use John. Although John Mark made some poor decisions early on, by choosing to treat him with gentleness instead of harshness, Barnabas was able to restore him to an active role in the ministry.

Barnabas did the right thing. Years later, even Paul agreed.

Treating others with gentleness in spite of their failures is a fruit of the Spirit.

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A Time to Reflect

Who do you need to respond to with gentleness today?

Can I pray for you?

Gracious Heavenly Father, Thank You for dealing with me in gentleness rather than in anger. Help me to remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. I want to treat others with the same gentleness You show me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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*Gentleness is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Next week we’ll continue to focus on this topic. If you’re interested in studying the fruit of the Spirit in greater detail, I’ve written a 10-week Bible study, Outrageously Fruitful, and you can pick it up here.

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