#tbt — Gentle on My Mind

(Originally written 8/12/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Gal 5:22,23

Gentlenesss — to be gentle is to be considerate and kindly in disposition, according to dictionary.com. It’s a good biblical definition as well. The Greek word chrestotes – the word for gentleness – is defined as kindness and goodness. The word gentleness appears only four times in the Bible, twice in the Old Testament, and twice in the New Testament. 2 Samuel 22:36 says, “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.” David is speaking after he has been rescued from Saul’s clutches. His song is repeated in Psalm 18:35. “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Incredible words, but what’s even more incredible is that every Christian, every child of God, can say those same words. It is God’s gentleness, His kindness, that allows all of us to come to Him, to come to the cross, ask for His forgiveness, and, more importantly, to be granted that forgiveness. The third appearance of the word is in 2 Corinthians 10:1, which says, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:” Again, it refers to the gentleness of our Lord and Savior. But what, exactly, does it mean? How do we exhibit gentleness in our lives as proof of the Holy Spirit within us? There are a couple of excellent descriptions in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 says, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.”So, one aspect of gentleness is to care for people as you would care for your children. 2 Timothy 2:24, 25 says, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” The servant of the Lord must not strive. To strive means to quarrel, fight, argue. So, another aspect of gentleness is not getting involved in conflict. That just means with our friends, right? Can’t we still argue with the people we don’t get along with? No. “But be gentle to all.” Even those who cause us grief. Family, co-workers, people who cut us off in traffic. We know we can’t do that on our own. We would like nothing more than to argue about everything. It is human nature to be combative, and it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can allow ourselves to be gentle toward each other. So, what can I do to ensure I’m bearing fruit in this aspect? I can think twice before getting into an argument with someone. I know there will be times when conflict will be inevitable and at those times I will have to make sure I remember to do all I do in love, showing the gentleness to others that Jesus shows to me. Will it be easy? Not always. Will it be possible? Absolutely, as long as I rely on the strength of my Creator and Savior to guide my steps.

Gentle Pen

There’s nothing like taking a good long look in the mirror to really see the areas you might be lacking in. These last few weeks, I’ve been doing just that in revisiting Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” So far, I’ve examined how much love, joy, peace and long-suffering there is in my life and, I hate to admit it, but it’s not as much as I would have hoped. Of course, that should go without saying. Until the day I die, I will always be trying to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, gentle, good, faithful, meek and temperate. And I will succeed on some days better than others. I found, though, that gentleness may be one of the traits I most need to work on. I discovered that, when put to the test, my first response to most people is to be sarcastic and cutting – a far cry from gentleness. I know that I developed my sarcasm as a defense mechanism when I was younger, but the question put before me is, does sarcasm have any place in my life now that I’m an adult? I looked up the definition of sarcasm and found it is defined as “harsh or bitter derision or irony” and a “sneering or cutting remark.” It is derived from the Greek word “sarcasmos”, meaning “to tear flesh, gnash the teeth, speak bitterly.” Harsh, bitter, sneering? Tearing flesh? Those are not words that should be used to describe my Christian walk. And yet, I find myself constantly opening my mouth and “tearing flesh”. Some would say, me included before this past week, that sarcasm is harmless fun and a form of humor. In some cases, it can be. Saying “lovely weather” when it’s storming out is sarcasm, and it is harmless sarcasm. The sarcasm I’m referring to is the comment that comes at the expense of another person, even if the person being poked fun at is the speaker of the sarcastic comment. And that leads me to my second revelation this week.

I tend to use sarcasm to put myself down. That has also become a habit that grew out of self-defense in my younger years. I was made fun of, a lot, as a kid, so I learned that if I made fun of myself first, it could lessen the blow and, more importantly, take the fun away from those making fun of me by showing that I wasn’t bothered by the taunts, even if I really had been bothered by them. That has become the way I deal with a lot of things about myself, and I was reminded this week of a speech I heard from someone about the way we internally talk to ourselves. I wish I could remember where I heard the speech and who gave it, so I could give credit where credit is due, but all I can remember is what was said. We are kinder and gentler to strangers than we are to ourselves. We would be hard-pressed to go up to someone and call them fat, or ugly, or stupid. And yet, we would have no problem internally saying that about ourselves. I find that, even though I feel I’m not as gentle to others as I should be, I’m much less gentle to myself. The speaker asked his audience, “If you were standing before yourself as a child, would you say half the things to him or her that you say to yourself as an adult?” The answer for most people would be, of course not. Then he asked why should it be any different for us as adults?

Before people get the wrong idea and think I’m saying that we should ignore our faults, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that we need to deal with our shortcomings with the same gentleness we would – or should – use towards others. What would you say to a friend who’s struggling with weight issues? (Hopefully, something encouraging!) Then, if you’re struggling with weight issues, why would you be so much harder on yourself? What would you say to a child who’s having a hard time grasping concepts at school? Then, if you’re having trouble learning something, why would you think less of yourself than you would that child?

While they may seem unrelated, these two revelations are inextricably linked. Being gentle to others is easier when I’m gentle to myself, and vice versa. Will it be easy changing habits that have developed over many years? The cliché “old habits die hard” is a cliché for a reason. But is it possible? Of course it is, especially with God’s help, with whom all things are possible. (Mat. 19:26) Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a nice, encouraging chat with my inner child…

Gentle on my Mind – 8/12/06

This week’s study is on gentleness, and I find that I am being put to the test again. I had to reread this myself today, in order to put things in the proper perspective. Here for your reading pleasure is my blast from the past on gentleness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Gal 5:22,23

Gentlenesss – to be gentle is to be considerate and kindly in disposition, according to dictionary.com. It’s a good biblical definition as well. The Greek word chrestotes – the word for gentleness – is defined as kindness and goodness. The word gentleness appears only four times in the Bible, twice in the Old Testament, and twice in the New Testament. 2 Samuel 22:36 says, “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.” David is speaking after he has been rescued from Saul’s clutches. His song is repeated in Psalm 18:35. “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” Incredible words, but what’s even more incredible is that every Christian, every child of God, can say those same words. It is God’s gentleness, His kindness, that allows all of us to come to Him, to come to the cross, ask for His forgiveness, and, more importantly, to be granted that forgiveness. The third appearance of the word is in 2 Corinthians 10:1, which says, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:” Again, it refers to the gentleness of our Lord and Savior. But what, exactly, does it mean? How do we exhibit gentleness in our lives as proof of the Holy Spirit within us? There are a couple of excellent descriptions in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 says, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.”So, one aspect of gentleness is to care for people as you would care for your children. 2 Timothy 2:24, 25 says, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” The servant of the Lord must not strive. To strive means to quarrel, fight, argue. So, another aspect of gentleness is not getting involved in conflict. That just means with our friends, right? Can’t we still argue with the people we don’t get along with? No. “But be gentle to all.” Even those who cause us grief. Family, co-workers, people who cut us off in traffic. We know we can’t do that on our own. We would like nothing more than to argue about everything. It is human nature to be combative, and it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can allow ourselves to be gentle toward each other. So, what can I do to ensure I’m bearing fruit in this aspect? I can think twice before getting into an argument with someone. I know there will be times when conflict will be inevitable and at those times I will have to make sure I remember to do all I do in love, showing the gentleness to others that Jesus shows to me. Will it be easy? Not always. Will it be possible? Absolutely, as long as I rely on the strength of my Creator and Savior to guide my steps.

Nine in the Afternoon

Nine is an interesting number. We say we’re on cloud nine and we dress to the nines. A stitch in time saves nine. (Not sure what that one means.) A cat has nine lives. Our solar system has nine planets – I don’t care what the scientists say, I say Pluto still counts. There are nine Muses in mythology. And I just learned about the Nine Worthies, which is a subject I’ll be coming back to in my blogs at some point.

So, why is the number nine on my mind? It seems I’ve had a few events occurring at the same time revolving around nine. I have recently rediscovered my blog series on the fruits of the Spirit, of which nine are listed in Galatians 5:22-23. They are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Having done those blogs five years ago, I decided to revisit the series and see what has changed and what hasn’t. The last time I did this, I found I was challenged on every one of the fruits as I was studying it. I expect it will be no different this time. I will be posting the original blogs as well.

The other major nine that popped up recently was in an exercise regime which I just began. It is a nine week program, divided into three phases of three weeks each. It’s not going to be easy. As a matter of fact, I only made it halfway through the routine yesterday. But I know that, if I stick with it, it will help me lose weight. This morning, I weighed in at an even 300.

With both of these things coming in the form of nine, I figured, why not combine the two and work on my spiritual and physical health at the same time? To top it all off – all this just happens to fall during the ninth month of the year. Coincidence? Yeah, probably, but I’m willing to go along with it. Join me, if you will, for what will hopefully be an enlightening, and lighten-ing, nine weeks.

Goal fruit for the week – Love

Goal weight for the week – 295

 

Picking Fruit (originally written 7/14/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.”(Gal. 5:22-23 KJV)

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to do an in-depth study of the fruit of the Spirit. The proof of a Christian life is in the fruit, just like the proof of a good tree is the good fruit it bears. If the Christian life doesn’t show good fruit, then one would be left to wonder if it truly is a Christian life.
The Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 KJV) So that is the fruit by which the Christian life is measured. It’s my intention to talk about each of the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, but before I do that, I want to spend some time on the verses right before those, which are not quoted as often. Galatians 5:19-21 tell the other side of the story – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” That is a long list of bad fruit, fruit of the flesh versus fruit of the Spirit. And it covers a large range of issues, and most are covered by the Ten Commandments. Sex, both adulterous and premarital, Hatred, wrath and murder, which, according to Jesus, are the same. Bearing false witness, covered by sedition and heresy. Covetousness with the envying, and so on.
They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But, aren’t we all guilty of doing these things even after we give our lives to Christ? Does that mean none of us will inherit the kingdom of God? Are we all doomed to hell?
The answer is in the Greek. The word “do” could better be translated as practice, perpetrate, exercise. All words which show a long-term disobedience to God. And that is the difference. I’ve heard a metaphor which paints a good picture. Imagine a pig and a sheep falling into a puddle of mud. The pig continues to wallow in the mud, while the sheep gets up and tries to clean itself off. That’s the difference. Those who practice, commit, exercise the fruit of the flesh are content to wallow in the mud. Those who try to live by the fruit of the Spirit will try to clean themselves off. Sure, there are times we Christians stumble. We are by no means perfect. It’s because we realize this that we have come to the One who is perfect.
So…ask yourself this question today – do you lay with the pigs or hang with the sheep?