The Fruits of the Spirit: Gentleness (A Wife’s Application)
I’m not sure why, and maybe you experience this too, it seems that it is really easy for me to be gentle with just about everyone else….except my spouse.
WHY IS THIS??? He puts up with my mood swings, type-A and neurotic tendencies, and just overall lovely (sarcasm) things about being a woman. If anyone DESERVES my gentleness, it would be him. Also, this fruit of the spirit is so his strength. So I can’t even use the excuse that I am not getting it in return, because more often than not, I am.
That being said, and obviously excuses aside (because I don’t have any to offer), I would like to beg the question again—why is it so easy to be gentle and tactful with nearly everyone else, but when my husband does the tiniest, smallest, most petty thing, I lose it all???
Awhile back, Pastor said something during a teaching series that has really stuck with me, especially reflecting on this blog series.
He posited that exact question and explained that if a stranger ran over his foot or slammed his hand in a car door, he would say, “oh that’s okay, don’t worry about it.” But if his wife or kid did it, he would have an ENTIRELY different reaction! The overall message being—why do we offer more gentleness to others but not the people who we are close to, put up with us on a daily basis, people who know us inside and out, the good, the bad, and the ugly?
Is it because we know that they will love us no matter what, that we are more comfortable to react according to the flesh? Or is it that we feel more slighted by those we are closer to, rather than if a stranger does us wrong?
What is Gentleness?
This fruit of the Spirit originates from the Greek work prautes, which points first to our relationship with God. A gentle spirit doesn’t fight with God, complain, or accuse Him of the things He has allowed in your life. This is certainly a NATURAL reaction when things happen that we do not particularly enjoy, but as the fruit of gentleness grows, a sense of calm occurs, and we are less likely to be rooted in bitterness and complaints when those circumstances arise.
Matthew 26:39 is where this term is used so beautifully, as Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane, pleading to God in true and authentic gentleness, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done…” Christ is offering full unrelenting submission to God the Father.
On the other side of this term is meekness. This word used to give me a horrible taste in my mouth. Meekness is often confused for weakness. But to be gentle in a situation where you want to blow up, be calloused, and harsh, takes strength. However, Jesus is the epitome of meek, and yet He is not weak, He is not a victim, He is not a wimp. Therefore, our definition must be backwards.
Gentleness, then, lives out of our certainty that this isn’t our world, but God’s, and because of that there is nothing in it that we must manipulate or control. –Hayley DiMarco
Therefore, meekness is the fruit portrayed out of this mindset. By acting out of this fruit, we can not only nourish those we live with but point them to the vine.
…never harsh. (1 Cor. 4:21; Eph. 4:2; Titus 3:2)
…teachable. If the truth of God isn’t changing you, then has He truly saved you (2 Cor. 3:18)? Besides, no human is perfect (Rom. 3:10).
…isn’t meddlesome. Gentleness doesn’t micromanage.
…is polite. (Eph. 5:33) How often do we offer a simple “thank you” to our spouse?
…isn’t trying to be perfect. (Eph. 2:8-9) Take it from a recovering perfectionist, trying to be perfect is often not only people-pleasing rather than God-pleasing, but it is also
…isn’t vengeful. This not only refers to reacting out of vengeance but NOT acting for the purpose of vengeance—i.e. withholding love and affection.
…is quiet. Don’t freak out! Keep reading! 1 Peter 3:4 (Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.) So, is God telling us loud and outgoing people to not be ourselves?? Absolutely not!! But rather, God is speaking of the loudness that is for the purpose of drawing attention to ourselves. This sort of abrasiveness does not point to the fruits of the Spirit and is not good for anything.
Living out Gentleness
- Be more easy going.
- Accept correction.
- Live a modest life. (Referring to not just clothing, but anything that would seek to draw attention to ourselves.)
- Be kind to those who can do nothing for you. (We’re talking unconditional lovingkindness here.)
- Unstuff. (Turning our focus away from material possessions and more on the fruitfulness of relationships.)
Challenge Questions: How do we talk to our spouse? How do we talk about them to others? Does it reflect gentleness?
*Adapted from The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco
Photo via iha via VisualHunt.com
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