This post was originally a guest post over at The Speckled Goat. If you've never read Ally's blog, you definitely should. She's pretty awesome!
What is gentleness? Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. Gentleness is a sensitivity to the feelings of others as you speak with them. It means speaking the truth in love (emphasis on the love). Gentleness does not mean you glaze over the truth, but it does mean that you aren't typically blunt or rude in your words or actions.
As an extrovert, I pride myself in communicating well, being willing to talk about the hard stuff, loving on people decently well, and being awkwardly funny. But one thing I find to be a challenge is gentleness.
Gentleness is an action- a way of life- but it is also a state of heart.
I find that I am actually good at being gentle with people outwardly, but in my heart I am often hostile and brash. Because I want to be Christlike, I try to remain gentle on the outside, but my attitude is often anything but gentle.
Inside and OutWhen someone makes me angry, if I remain gentle in conduct, I may still be screaming at them in my head. Do you do that? Do you find it hard to keep a loving attitude that results in gentleness of spirit? I do. And that, my friends, is not gentleness.
Gentleness, in my eyes, is a form of humility. If I am puffed up with pride, I am not going to handle a situation with gentleness. Instead, I will be self-focused and unable to see any point of view but my own. I may nod and smile and say nice things on the surface, but if I am lacking gentleness, I will continue to harbor ill-will secretly. But gentleness says "I will not only listen and talk about this calmly, but I will also let it go, and calm down. I will let my heart be relaxed about the issue".So in that way, gentleness is tied to not only humility, but also forgiveness and self-control.
1 Peter 3:15-16 gives us an excellent view of what gentleness really means and looks like:
Spring-Cleaning the HeartYou see, regardless of my natural tendencies, God still calls me to be gentle. This doesn't mean I have to pretend I'm someone I'm not. This doesn't mean that it is wrong to be outgoing, or that I can't make people laugh. On the contrary, we all have different and beautiful personalities. But, what it does mean is that my heart needs a little Spring-cleaning. I need a heart that is loving and gentle towards all people, no matter what the situation. I need a gentle spirit whether I am talking to a homeless person, my husband, my mom, or my worst enemy. It doesn't matter. I am stilled called to gentleness towards them in my words, my heart, my thoughts, and my actions.
I can't do this on my own- neither can you. This is only accomplished through asking God to continuously correct us and make us clean. This is only accomplished by steady perseverance as we try our best to do better in God's strength. Not in our own strength- our own strength accomplishes nothing. Ask Him, and He will give it. It may be a slow process, but He will mold us. We may never reach the point we'd like to get to on this earth, but rest assured, He will continue working on us until that day that we join Him in Heaven.