"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." NIV
Every New Year's the Lord gives me a new word to work on. Two years ago it was gentleness. Last year it was ......gentleness. Okay, so I'm a slow learner. (This year is humility. I guess He decided to go at it from a different angle.) Gentleness is just one of the attributes that has always been difficult for me. I'm a bottom-line person. I tend to see the overall needs quickly, cut to the heart of the situation, and shoot straight. If you happen to be in the line of fire, you should listen and make adjustments. Well, that's how I was; I believe I've improved over my 2+ year's focus on being gentler, but I'm sure I have a long way to go.
Meekness or gentleness exemplifies so well the character of Jesus Christ. He just never seemed to get rattled by anyone or anything. (Well, except that whole turning over the tables in the temple incident. But that was anger at defiling His Father's house. He was justified.) Even when He rebuked the disciples and used some rather harsh wording, He would guide them into a right way of thinking. When the woman was about to be stoned for adultery, He was gentle with her and with her accusers. He spoke the truth, but in a calm and quiet manner. When he was being abused, verbally and physically, by the authorities, He didn't speak a word. Jesus always looked to others and their needs first. He submitted to God's leading. He lived a gentle existence. (Side note: This, I'm sure, was just blowing the Jews' minds because they were expecting in the Messiah a mighty warrior ready to kick some Roman bootie. Little did they know they got the most powerful warrior possible.)
When I think of a person today as an example of gentleness, I always see an old woman who quietly and reservedly doles out words of wisdom. She lives a humble and quiet existence. She is never harsh or abrasive. Her eyes are filled with compassion and kindness. She looks at others to really see them and accepts them just as they are without reservation. She is never in a hurry, but always slow and deliberate in all she does. Flustered is not in her vocabulary. When faced with temptation -- no compromise. When assaulted by other's sin -- gentle rebuke in love. This is the gentle, kind person I so want to be.
Lord, as I go through my day today, help me to be gentle with all those around me. I want my thoughts to be of others before myself. I want my tone of voice to never be harsh or impatient. Slow down my day and fill me, Holy Spirit, with Your gentleness.
- There are several examples in the OT of meek spirits -- Joseph, Ruth, Esther, Samuel, Sarah, Moses, Noah, Job. Choose one or two and reread their stories. What can you learn about gentleness from their life?
- Find some verses to memorize regarding gentle, humble, or contrite. (See Ephesians 4:2, Isaiah 66:2)
- I believe one of the biggest hindrances to gentleness is a hectic lifestyle. When we get in a hurry, are rushed, and fail to take quiet times of reflection, our gentleness with others and God tends to diminish. What can you do to remove some of the hectic-ness out of your life? Can you incorporate some "reset" times in your day to slow everything down and refocus your purpose and goals?
- When I am not feeling very gentle, reading Scripture or listening to music calms my spirit. Try it. (My favorites are the Psalms, 1 Corinthians 13, and Andrea Bocelli. But that's me.)