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Posts Tagged ‘Gentleness’

 

 

How would you fill in the blanks of this quote?

 

“Nothing is so strong as _______________,

Nothing so _______________ as real strength.”

–St. Frances de Sales (1567-1622)

 

Possibilities include:

  1. Discipline / disciplined
  2. Gentleness / gentle
  3. Steadfastness / steadfast

According to de Sales, the answer is 2.

Yet gentleness is not a trait that readily comes to mind when we hear the word strength. We’re more likely to describe the strong person as self-confident, self-reliant, and assertive.

 

 

But consider which of the following actions requires more fortitude:

  • Defending one’s own rights or deferring to another’s?
  • Airing one’s views or actively listening to understand someone else’s?
  • Tackling the personal to-do list or taking time to help another person with theirs?

Gentleness includes consideration, kindness, and grace. It is genial, not demanding its own way, and it refuses to manipulate people or circumstances. Neither is it easily threatened, offended, or angered. Gentleness requires humility, maturity, and self-control.

 

 

Most of us do not gravitate toward such habits on our own. It takes strength to become gentle—strength that begins with God, as we learn to relax in his sovereignty over all things (Psalm 145:13), and count on him to work in his way (Proverbs 16:4a), in his time (Acts 1:7).

Gentleness begins to grow in our spirits as we:

  • Become acquainted with the One who personifies gentleness–Jesus (Matthew 11:29)
  • Choose to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18), which improves our perspective and calms our spirits
  • Refuse to complain or grumble (Philippians 2:14)
  • Desire to be molded by God and patterned after his purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
  • Affirm trust in his reliability and endless resources (Psalm 62:5-8)
  • Practice his presence (Exodus 33:14) through continual, prayerful connection

And the result? “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NASB, emphasis added).

Or, as Max Lucado interprets the verse, “Blessed are those who acknowledge that there is only one God and have quit applying for his position.” *

 

 

That inheritance Jesus promised includes joyful contentment in God’s provision and pleasure in the simple things of life, the delight of blessing others and celebrating their successes.

My grandmother was just such a person.

Before she turned forty, Grandma lost a young sister, a toddler son, and her husband. During the depression she kept the mortgage paid and her family clothed and fed by baking all night, then catching a bit of sleep while the three children were at school. Yet Grandma’s strong faith in God never wavered. (You can read more about this amazing woman in another post, The God of Rachel, Henry, and Clara, Part 1).

 

 

I never heard Grandma raise her voice or speak unkindly. What I do remember is hearing her humming along with the hymns on the radio as she worked in the kitchen.

She spent much of her time serving others, beginning with family. When Grandma stayed with us, she mended and hemmed our clothes, helped turn the apples from our tree into applesauce for the freezer, and braided old woolens into small rugs to place in front of our doors.

Grandma was gracious with praise and gratitude. One time I noticed tiny aphids on her prized African violets. You’d think I’d saved the neighborhood from a locust invasion. “Well aren’t you my Little Bunny Bright-Eyes!” Grandma cried, and hugged me tight. “I hate to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been here. Thank you!

 

 

Later in life she developed neuralgia in her right cheek. The slightest breeze could cause an agonizing bout of pain. Grandma would grimace and gasp as her hand flew to her face. But she did not complain.

In these ways and many more Grandma Rachel proved that the strong of faith are also gentle of spirit.

 

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O God, I know the quality of gentleness is precious to you, and I want to cultivate a life that brings you honor and pleasure. Keep me mindful of your empowering presence so that your gentle spirit of grace, kindness, and goodness will flow through me to others.

 

(1 Peter 3:4; Psalm 147:11; Isaiah 40:11; Galatians 5:22-23)

 

Who provided an example of gentle strength in your life?  Tell us about them in the comment section below!

 

* Grace for the Moment, Thomas Nelson, 2000, p. 277.

 

Photo credits:  http://www.needpix.com (2); http://www.heartlight.org (3); dailyverses.net (2).

 

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 Antiques-Roadshow

 

“Do you have any idea how much your painting is worth?” asks the antiques dealer.

“No, not really,” the owner answers.

“At auction, this portrait would probably bring…(a bit of a pause)…$5,000 or more.

The owner gasps. “And to think I only paid $25.00 at a garage sale!”

Scenes such as this are quite frequent on the popular TV program, Antiques Roadshow.  It’s astonishing how valuable some common-looking items turn out to be.  But I can’t help feeling a bit sad for the previous owners, who had no idea the worth of their possessions.

There are some folks who see little worth in the teachings of Jesus.  To their way of thinking, his world view and expectations seemed upside down and backwards.

For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlighted attributes that the world does not value, yet God considers of great worth.  Meekness would be a prime example.

Part of the problem lies in a common misunderstanding of the attribute. People think a meek person as weak-willed, passive, and too nice for her own good.

Such thinking is far from the truth.

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Meekness includes:

  • Surrender to God
  • Trust and confidence in His ways and provision
  • Gentleness and humility with others
  • More concern for the interests of others than one’s own
  • Self-control, self-sacrifice, faith, patience, and forbearance
  • A gentle and soothing disposition

A weak-willed, passive person cannot demonstrate such traits.   Meekness requires strength of character; it is power under control.

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Imagine wild stallions running free across rolling hills.   Manes and tails undulate and flow in the wind, muscles strain beneath gleaming coats, hooves pound a rapid rhythm. Indeed, stallions in motion are a majestic sight. They exude power. But that power is useless to man unless it is harnessed and trained.

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That’s the picture of meekness–strength under control. Strength to do the right thing at the right time. It’s not a human personality trait; it’s a super-human God trait. And the more we know his Son and abide in him, the more we’ll demonstrate meekness.

What might that look like, day-to-day? First, there would be no:

  • Mean-spirited sarcasm and rudeness
  • Arrogant behavior
  • Concern for prestige
  • Over-sensitivity or defensiveness

 

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Instead, the beauty of meekness includes:

  • Quiet trusting in God to supply
  • Adherence to the Golden Rule
  • Love in action—caring, giving, helping
  • Gracious understanding and forgiveness

The world would be a different place if meekness were a more prevalent trait.

Some of you may recall the old tune, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Do you remember the next line? “And let it begin with me.”

Surely the same could be said for meekness. We can each be an example. As opportunities arise that require meekness, we can allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with his power, much as we fill our lungs with air. In fact, we can use that physical act of taking a deep breath as a reminder of “the breath of God” within us, providing everything we need for meekness: trust in God, self-control, compassion, kindness, and patience.

Meekness is so important to God, he included specific promises in scripture for those who demonstrate this trait:

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  • “I hear the desires of the meek. I strengthen their hearts” (Psalm 10:17, RSV).
  • “The meek shall…be satisfied” (Psalm 22:26, ERV).
  • “The meek will he guide in justice; And the meek will he teach his way” (Psalm 25:9, ASV).
  • “The meek will…enjoy great peace” (Psalm 37:11).
  • “The Lord lifts up the meek” (Psalm 147:6a).
  • “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord (Isaiah 29:19a, RSV).

Strength, satisfaction, guidance, peace, uplift, and fresh joy. Valuable blessings, don’t you think?

Let’s seize the day in meekness. Let’s partake in the adventure of living our lives upside down and backwards, Jesus’ way!

We will NOT be disappointed in the results.

(Art & photo credits:  www.dealtrackersf.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.kansas.com; http://www.pinterest.com;

 

 

 

 

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