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Fruit of the Spirit Wonders: Gentleness

Gentleness is too often viewed as a sign of weakness in our world, when in reality, it’s a sign of strength. Gentleness is spiritually powerful. When we dare to be gentle, we welcome wonder into our lives.

One day in elementary school, my teacher invited each student in my class to choose a crayon from a huge box on her desk, which held crayons of many colors. I dropped the box by mistake when it was my turn. Crayons toppled out of the box, rolling in every direction on the floor. When I stooped down to start gathering them up, many of my fellow students laughed at me, and some of them even picked up crayons and threw them at me before the teacher stopped them. But a few students helped me retrieve the crayons and put them back inside the box. It was the gentleness of those students that stood out. They carefully picked up crayons from even hard-to-reach places in the classroom, such as under desks and behind bookcases. They refrained from shaming me, and instead spoke quiet words of comfort like “It’s okay” or “Don’t worry about it”. The memory of the gentleness those students showed continues to inspire me all these years later. I try to be gentle in all situations, and while I’m not always successful, with God’s help I’m often able to speak and act gently rather than harshly. The choice to be gentle helps me pay careful attention to the people around me – and in the process, I’ve discovered the wonder of God at work in our relationships.

Wake Up to Wonder explains research that shows how choosing to be gentle helps us focus on what’s positive around us, revealing wonder we could miss otherwise. In the book, I encourage us to look at Jesus as the ultimate role model of gentle strength in action. Jesus urges us in Matthew 11:29 to follow his example of 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.”

Choosing to be gentle can help you find rest for your soul as you see glimpses of God’s wonderful work in your life. Gentleness challenges you to trust God and learn from situations, rather than trying to control them yourself. As you do so, God directs your attention to how he is at work around you. How have you encountered wonder because you decided to be gentle in a situation?

Here’s how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to develop more gentleness, and discover wonder in the process:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to create a gentle spirit within you and make you sensitive to others’ feelings and concerns.

  • Listen more than you talk. When talking, strive to encourage people with your words. Guard against speaking in harsh ways that may hurt people. Pray for discernment about how to speak the truth in loving ways that others can receive well.

  • Think of ways you can illustrate the Gospel message through simply living it out in your life, rather than lecturing people or judging them. Try to let others see Jesus’ light shining through the loving gentleness of your actions.

  • Ask God to give you his wisdom about how to approach every situation you encounter. When there’s conflict, do your best to make peace. When there’s tension, be calm and confident, resting in the assurance that you can trust God to help you do the right thing.

  • Confess any bitterness you may have in your heart. Ask God to replace that with his gentleness and help you forgive others, as God has forgiven you.

How will you pursue gentleness today?


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