Candy blogs: Ah, gentleness. The most difficult quality of the fruit of the Spirit for me. I so dreaded this one as it came up in Beth Moore’s study, Living Beyond Yourself. All my life I read about how women are supposed to be gentle and quiet in spirit. I always greatly admired gracious, graceful, delicate women, mainly because that couldn’t be more opposite than my personality. The opposite of gracious? Perhaps sarcastic, severe, ungiving. The opposite of graceful? Perhaps careless, awkward. The opposite of delicate? Perhaps robust, strong.
But this study helped me realize that gentleness had nothing to do with personality or circumstances. How God hard-wired my personality and spiritual gifts didn’t make gentleness impossible. Here is what the dictionary says:
… clement, peaceful, pacific, soothing; tender, humane, lenient, merciful. Gentle, meek, mild refer to an absence of bad temper or belligerence. 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: meek and even servile or weak. Mild suggests absence of harshness or severity, rather because of natural character or temperament than conscious choice.
I had always measured spiritual gentleness by this definition. It just isn’t the case. Beth Moore says these things, scattered throughout the study:
… an inward grace of the soul; a calmness toward God in particular. An acceptance of God’s dealings with us, considering them as good. The term basically means to stop fighting God. Gentleness is responsibility with power.”
I now enjoy a certain level of intimacy with Jesus that only comes with time. But I have to say that at times there was a battle to get there. I often fought what God wanted to teach me. I often ignored what I already knew and continued on in my own strength. I resisted being restrained. What I finally learned was that it was in the letting go, releasing control of what was safe, being willing to step into the unknown that led to freedom and intimacy with God. I submitted to and stopped fighting God in my maturing process. THIS was the exercise of gentleness … as Beth Moore says … reponsibility with power.
We often hang on to some level of control over an emotional or difficult issue, our “right” to be mad about something. Not accepting God’s dealings with us will cause us to be bitter. If we allow ourselves to go there, we aren’t exercising gentleness.
Releasing control to our Savior doesn’t mean there won’t be pain involved. On the contrary, pain is one of God’s most effective tools. Not as a punitive tool, but a shaping tool. The stone or wood naturally resist the chisel of the sculptor. But the sculptor sees his creation before any chiseling or shaping begins. If allowed to continue, putting gentleness into action, the result is maturity, a thing of beauty.
We can decide to bow down to God’s purposes and plans for us BEFORE difficulties hit. The quality of the fruit of the Spirit of gentleness can help us THROUGH the storm. Why do we wait until AFTER to look for God’s plan? An inward grace of the soul … to me this says I completely trust my life to a loving God.
God knows what He’s doing.