Cultivating the rare fruit of gentleness


[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]

As a church we were very blessed this past Sunday when our former pastor came to visit. We had a very special service at church when we were welcoming for the first time our senior pastoral couple who got married two weeks ago and as spiritual father in our church our former pastor came to bless the new couple and to offer words of advice.

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We were blessed to sit under his ministry once again. Dr T W Ngobeni always struck me as a very gentle man. Well into his seventies, he is still sold out for Christ having served our Lord for decades. He left our church to go and pastor another church. He was already in his 70s when he did that.

What strikes me about his life and what ministers to my walk with the Lord every time I sit under his ministry is his gentle, gentle soul. Pastor Ngobeni has many spiritual sons and daughters who love, respect and honour him. When I came back from church this past Sunday I began to reflect on my life and my interactions with others. I identified that one of the reasons why Pastor Ngobeni is so loved and respected is a quality that he always displays — his gentleness. Gentleness is an often missed quality and value. Although it is not a quality that is often mentioned like love, joy, peace and faith, gentleness when applied will revolutionise relationships.

Is there a place in our world for gentleness?
Is there a place in our world for gentleness? We live in a world that is exposed to so much violence. Violent words, violent behaviour! Violence has taken over our television dramas. There has to be some kind of violence for the dramas or soapies to attract an audience. Headline news is filled with violent images. Is there a place in our world for gentleness? What used to be such welcomed behaviour from men; gentlemen pulling out a chair for a lady or opening a door is even frowned upon by a world with women’s rights. I gave myself time to read the Word of God to find out what He says about gentleness. The Lord expects us to be gentle. I question myself how does one do that in a world that is obsessed with putting one’s opinion forward; in a world where people are obsessed about being right; proving a point; in a world that is obsessed with looking out for number one. Can one be gentle towards others without being seen as weak? Can one be gentle without being a walkover?

lionlambHow do you respond to the mundane mistakes of life; you know the everyday scenarios that we all face. When she does not cook the steak just the way you like it do you scream and shout? When he leaves his socks on the floor and you have to pick them up do you scream and shout? When your children do not do the task that you have told them to do are you harsh? We always have a choice (although it really does not seem like it at the time) how we respond. You can scream and shout; be harsh and yell or choose gentleness. Gentleness can prevent a potential fight from happening. I have found that when I yell at my kids to do something they do it but you can see rebellion in their eyes. I have also noticed that beaming smile that is full of tenderness when they do the task without being shouted at. It is the same outcome but different seeds that are sown. When we shout and yell we are sowing seeds or rebellion and disrespect in children and we are planting potential conflicts in a marriage but when we are gentle we are showing our children a better way to live with others. Yes they will have plenty of opportunities to be upset as they are growing older but how they react in those circumstances will largely depend on how we have role modelled our reactions for them through the years.

Sometimes we speak harmful words, intentionally harmful words. Why are we not gentle with our children; with our husbands; with our wives? Where has gentleness gone? In this day and age gentleness is seen as a sign of weakness. If I do not stand up to you then I am being weak and no one is applauded when they are weak. It is amazing to me how gentle people are with each other when they start their love journey. Before they get married people are so gentle to one another.

10 ways of gentleness from the Word of God
In my study of gentleness let me share 10 ways that I have seen outlined in the Word of God..

1. Avoid quarrelling. There will be many opportunities to choose to quarrel but avoid it and be courteous to not only members of your family but to all people.
Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

2. If you have to correct do it with gentleness
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

3. Wisdom always chooses the way of heaven
James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

4. You might save a soul through your gentleness. When unbelievers see how a servant of the Lord behaves they might be won over to the ways of Christ by seeing how His follower is gentle.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

5. When you correct a brother speak the truth in love and correct in the spirit of gentleness. In our relationships we will be tempted to lose our temper many times but let us choose to correct with gentleness.
Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

6. When you are in the middle of a potential fight choose to be tender and gentle as that will not cause the situation to be worse. When both parties are harsh and angry using harsh words and are yelling there will be a fight and words might be uttered that will cause lasting emotional damage.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

7. The word of God advises us to be slow to anger. It is an advice we should take to heart as it pleases the Father and it will save much heartache when we practice it.
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

8. We are called to bear one another in love. When you are thinking of another person instead of yourself you will be gentle. When you are mindful to be patient and humble towards them instead of being right you will be intentional not to want to hurt them.
Ephesians 4:2 With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.

9. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It shows that we are children of God and the Holy Spirit is in us and guiding us when we are gentle. It shows that we do not give in to the flesh so easily. In a fight the flesh wants to retaliate and fight but the Holy Spirit in us wants to reconcile and have peace.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

10. When all is said and done we all do not want to be shouted and yelled at. Let us treat others the way we want to be treated. When we sow gentleness to others that is what we will reap in return.
1 Corinthians 4:21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

The world can be full of hatred and strife but as children of God we are called to live by His standards. We are called to imitate our Father. For the world to see Him in us we have to make the sometimes forgotten fruit of the spirit gentleness more visible in our conduct with each other. As we model this fruit we will have richer more fulfilled lives.. more peaceful lives.


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