Day 17 - Relating in Gentleness
“Gentle words are a tree of life; a harsh tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 15: 4
Meditate or Reflect
At this point in our fruitful journey, I wonder if you are discovering there are some fruit of the Spirit that are easy for you? Some that are challenging? Some that you desperately desire more of? I am answering yes, yes, and yes for me. Joy, kindness, and gentleness come easy for me, and I especially crave gentleness, and I think it comes from a place of having experienced the opposite. Of course, we won’t live out the fruit of the Spirit perfectly (after all, we are saints who still sin, and we have yet to be adorned in our redeemed bodies); however, when we lean into the Holy Spirit, He leads us on the journey of growing and maturing in the Fruit of the Spirit. Most of us have relational wounds, or loss, or trauma, and we are battle-weary, maybe, broken, maybe exhausted. And harsh words just might “crush the spirit.” Words that are harsh (cursing, sarcasm, mocking, demeaning), tone that is harsh (short, sharp, frustrated), actions that are harsh (physical touch, eye-rolling, striking an object or slamming a door) – all harshness “crushes the spirit” both in others and in oneself. Let us seek gentleness in our words, tone, and actions as gentleness is a life-giving fruit. Take a breath and think of relationships where you have experienced gentleness of spirit. Reflect on the gentleness of God who abides with you like a calm breeze, who leads you in quiet and green pastures.
Thoughts and Behaviors
Turn to your thoughts and behaviors. Are your thoughts and behaviors consistently gentle or harsh? Consider the verse from Proverbs 15: 4 and reflect on these questions with the Spirit’s help:
Flourishing and Protecting
In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus offers us rest from our labors, and rest for heavy hearts. He invites us into a relationship with Him where we can learn from Him. Specifically, we learn His gentleness and humility – “for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” The most loving relationship you can have is with the gentle Savior. And, as we grow in Christ-likeness, we will be gentle, too, and desire relationships that are gentle. However, if you find yourself or someone you care about in relationship with someone who is harsh or aggressive, it is imperative to get help: invite someone else into the conversation – a counselor, an impartial friend, a trusted advisor, or seek safe shelter away from the abuser. We can hope and pray for change, but if change isn’t happening, then it may be time to create boundaries for protection. Have a dialogue, seek outside help or advice, and hope and pray for change. Also, search your heart, mind, and soul to see where you may be lacking gentleness in your relationships, and make any changes that could improve your part in a relationship.
Gentleness in relationship often happens when we slow down and take time to be careful with our thoughts, words, and actions. Gentleness flourishes when we are committed to the care of each other’s soul, when we reflect the gentleness of God in us. Take a breath and reflect on the gentleness of God– He is gentle and lowly– meet Him in this moment. Also, express your gratitude for the relationships where you experience gentleness, and pray for those who struggle to be gentle.
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Amy Fleming, MA, LPC