Oh, gentleness. Can I please just get an extra helping of you today on my plate?
I can’t help but wonder if any of you all feel the same today. Like, you want to be a gentle wife, mom, friend, sister, co-worker, neighbor, boss, employee, etc., but every single time your frustration is triggered by a frustrating person or circumstance, gentleness is the last thing to ooze out of you.
But gosh, we want to be more gentle, don’t we? We crave a more gentle world, more gentle responses on social media and in culture, but where is all the gentleness?!
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29
If you don’t recall, these are the words of Jesus Himself, inviting us to come and know the rest that only He can offer to our weary souls, souls that have grown weary perhaps from a lack of gentleness. Once again, Jesus is not only the model but also the motivation for this virtue.
In my study of the word gentleness, I came across a wealth of knowledge and deeper understanding into this particular fruit of the Spirit. First, what struck me the most were the synonyms to this word “gentle”: peaceful, soothing, tender, merciful, mild, MEEK. I emphasized that last word, because I have to share with you what I discovered.
The word meek or meekness means power under control.
When I hear the word “meek,” it’s easy for me to think “weak.” Am I right? But let’s be very clear here: Jesus was anything but weak. He knew when to exhibit His power, and He knew when to restrain it. The cross is the perfect example of His restraint. As He hung there and suffered while being mocked and jeered, the accusing crowd at His feet taunted and tempted Him to call down the angels to rescue Him…something He very easily could have done. But, meekness. His power under control was on display that victorious day on that brutal cross.
As I studied these words (gentleness and meekness), I came across some profound insights that I want to share with you:
“Gentle has reference especially to disposition and behavior, and often suggests a deliberate or voluntary kindness or forbearance in dealing with others. Meek implies a submissive spirit, and may even indicate undue submission in the face of insult or injustice.” — dictionary.com
Just wow! Do you realize how much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control is required to be gentle, truly gentle like Jesus was gentle? Each of these nine fruit are entirely connected, intertwined, and dependent upon the others. It’s just so beautiful.
I’ll be really honest with you…I struggle with gentleness. I don’t see myself as a very gentle person, and I’m especially not very gentle with myself. I’m hard on myself. I place very high expectations on myself. I’m very disappointed in myself when I don’t reach those expectations, and somehow in this battle for perfectionism, I’ve confused my own unrealistic standards for myself with the Lord’s easy yoke and light burden. (Matthew 11:30) I so easily forget how gentle the Lord is with me, even in the middle of my mess. My mess ups and screw ups and failures are not an inconvenience to Him but rather an invitation to Him to come and meet me in it. And He does…EVERY SINGLE TIME.
It’s been a tough week…lots of emotions, lots of wrestling, and lots of exhaustion, and that’s just the parenting stuff. The last thing I feel like I’ve been in my parenting of Redford is gentle. But the Lord has been ever so gentle with me and my brokenness. And He is with you and yours, too. Let’s choose to wear the marks of our Savior today as we interact with ourselves and with others.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12