Words of My Life: Gentle


My sister (the one in the middle with me that I fought with growing up) borrowed a favorite blouse of mine—without asking. And she spilled something all over it, staining it permanently.

She, of course, was sorry and apologetic. I was angry. About the stain and that she borrowed it without asking. I yelled at her. I was not kind and forgiving. I was not gentle.

That was fairly early in my walk with Jesus, but not that early. I found myself repeating a too-frequent prayer: “Lord, forgive me. Why do I get so upset when someone wrongs—or even annoys—me? Would you please give me a gentle spirit—to respond as Jesus would.”

Years passed. My responses became less intense, less frequent.

One day a coworker said something unkind and hurtful to me. I responded with a gentle answer that diffused the tension in the conversation. We talked it through.

And I had an aha moment: Gentle. I had been gentle. God really had been giving me a gentle spirit.

I was grateful. Of course, gentleness is not always my go-to response. But more and more it was true for me. Watching Jesus respond to those who accused, berated, killed Him motivated me to live out that gentle spirit.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is still strong.

Strong will. Opinionated. Know it all. Getting my own way. These are the descriptions people used of me growing up. The tendency, the desire in all this is still true. Standing up for my way, for my opinion comes so naturally.

I am passionate about God’s desire to use His daughters to help build His Kingdom. I am convinced that employers and supervisors need to make their people a higher priority than completing tasks, making money, being successful. I seek to be an advocate for the marginalized. I will fight for these.

I believe Jesus has called us to an impossible standard of living out love, mercy, forgiveness. His grace overcomes our law and judgment again and again. Kingdom principles guide us to following Jesus and living and loving like Jesus. I can preach about it.I also like to stir things up about these passions—and others. My blog is called Kindling: Starting Fires in Hearts and Minds. I want to see change—I hope to effect change.

So I am often tempted to throw incendiary words into the fire. To correct those I disagree with. To make public protestations on controversial topics.

But Jesus has been transforming me. His Spirit has continued the good work He began in me, and He keeps growing that fruit of gentleness in me. The model of Jesus has, over a long lifetime, penetrated into my heart and mind.

And these Scriptures, among many, have spurred me on to seek to live out the gentleness of Jesus:

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

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5)

…to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. (Titus 3:2)

Will I continue to stir things up, to stand up for truth and right, to confront those with power to change and make changes, to care for those in need? Yes, and more.

But hopefully not stridently or contentiously. My prayer is that wisdom will guide me, gentleness will be evident and love will win the day.

What about you? What fruit of the Spirit has God been working into you?

C2015 Judy Douglass

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