“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”-Phil. 4:5
With my history, I tend to be a little rough around the edges. It was ingrained in me by mother. She is a no-nonsense, career driven female. It is from her that I became a strong-willed and opinionated woman. Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with being strong willed and opinionated, but it does have to be tempered. Sadly, I have sinned a lot lately.
I blame outbursts of anger on hormones. While I can excuse some of it to hormones, this does not mean I can forsake self-control. Gestating a child is not a viable reason to forsake tenants of my faith. It is in overlooking offenses and handling difficulties with dignity that Christ’s light shines brightly within us. Lately, his light has been quite dim in me.
I’ve thrown rants over not having a hot shower, lashed out because dinner wasn’t on the table at the time I wanted it to be, grumbled because food I wanted wasn’t in the house, and blown up in frustration at people’s innocent comments or joking. Yesterday, I told my husband he was getting the silent treatment during an argument we had last week and repeated yesterday. Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and in hearing my friend’s struggles with her kids’ bath time, I softened. My husband wasn’t the asinine jerk I was portraying him to be. We simply had the same miscommunication and if I’m entirely honest, it was mainly my fault.
I was definitely not gentle to him. When he didn’t respond immediately to my texts, I sent him harried, wrath-filled comments. He had simply not heard the phone as it was placed elsewhere. Technology is a beneficial tool, but when used inappropriately, can drag us deeper into sin indulgence. We have this asset at our disposal, but it can make us anxious, worried, or angry when we can’t control it or the people with whom we communicate to through it. This is where the problem lies with this valuable tool.
The commentary in my Bible stated that the Greek word for gentleness used in the context at the top denotes joy in spite of offense. I am letting American comfort and convenience challenge Christ-like character. It is a constant struggle in our society. Deviating somewhat from the thread above, but in my mind still on the same track, this has been evident with recent mass shootings.
Instead of trying to live peacefully with neighbors, showing kindness and compassion, and condolences in grieving, we are quarreling. We are retaliating with vanity, pride, and self-aggrandizement. Rather than concede that politics won’t resolve sin issues, we malign friend’s and family with varying opinion. Healthy debate and encouragement has been replaced with character defamation simply for having a variant opinion. Gun-control arguments have monopolized the scene when we really, truly need to bend knees in prayer, not placate the problem with simple nods of apology.
We need to be kind even in spite of cruelty. ““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well…”-Matt.5:38-40 This command from Jesus is a hefty charge. To exercise forgiveness, compassion, and charity when we feel offended or slighted contradicts American sensuality. However, the only way we will see authentic alterations in culture is if we adhere to these biblical mandates. Now, we can’t expect to hold non-believers to these moral standards, but we can expect ourselves [professing Christ followers] to do so. I know I’m falling short, but by God’s grace and intense prayer, my hard exterior will soften. I’ve seen myself grow more understanding and less hard-headed over the years (or at least I hope I am…others might disagree, but is that fear that I am failing rather than succeeding in this area simply a by-product of my rampant approval addiction that needs to die).
[Aside: I put too many things in parentheses. Gah, I did it again!]
It starts with us. When we let gentleness rule in our sphere of influence, we will eventually see ripples of gratitude, generosity, and grace reach beyond our gates. We will see God near, his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.