A burly man sat during the children’s Mass Christmas performance. Tattoos painted his arms, neck and face so much you couldn’t see his skin color. His face was battle-scarred from too many back-alley fights. He locked his arms across his chest.
As the performance commenced the countenance on his face changed. His hardened face softened, at times a tear glistened on his cheeks. The last little performers came on stage. He leaned forward, attentive to their angelic voices as they sang their carol.
Their last note wafted up to the ceiling. A little blonde-headed boy broke from the choir and quickly ran to the man. He gently scooped up the little one and gave him tender kisses on the forehead.
There are many aspects of being a disciple of Jesus that seem weak and powerless: gentleness, meekness, peacemaking, love, etc. But these are all attributes of God that we are called to participate in. The same God who is love is also omnipotent (all-powerful). But here’s the difference. What we usually see as “power” in our fallen world is power that is turned in on itself and applied selfishly. But God’s power is always turned outward for the selfless good of others. It’s not weakness. It’s power directed by love.
The gentleness the Holy Spirit gives us is not a weak gentleness. It is a strong, controlled gentleness woven with humility and restrained behavior. We are powerful. We can speak words that hurt or heal. We can act in ways that help or hurt. The gentleness that comes from the Holy Spirit channels our power to love.
Lean into the Fruit of gentleness by directing your power to love.
Attitude of Gentleness
I choose gentle words and speech to convey my gentle attitude. I know that the emotion I convey in my speech is the first window someone may look through to see Jesus in me. So, I choose to speak gentle words.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1, RSV
I choose to apply the Wisdom of God to my situations. I know the Spirit has given gentleness, and it is my choice to use it during difficult situations.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” James 3:17, RSV
I choose not to lash out in anger. Even when my anger is justified, I don’t need to prove my worth by using words as a weapon. Instead, I choose to respond with emotional gentleness and with firm reason, or with controlled and productive anger to defend what is right and just, using Christ as my example.
“I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold to you when I am away!”
2 Corinthians 10:1, RSV