This week's fruit of the Spirit that I'm studying has been "gentleness". As I was getting ready to open the workbook, and imagining how Beth Moore might approach this fruit, I was feeling a little relieved. I mean, week after week, she keeps teaching things that convict me. I don't THINK she's been trying to discourage me! In fact, just the opposite! I think she has been trying to give me an opportunity to better understand each of the qualities that these verses mention: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. And personally, I've been dreading self-control in the back of my mind for the whole study, because I'm pretty sure I'm not such a paragon of self-control. But to paraphrase Scarlett O'Hara, another woman lacking in self-control, I'll think about that one tomorrow.
Anyway, this week, as I was approaching the fruit of "gentleness", I was thinking, well, I don't think I'm totally devoid of gentleness. Maybe I'll get off easy this week!
I think what surprised me about her teaching on this fruit of the Spirit was that she wasn't talking about being all nicey-nicey. Because, sometimes, I think here in the mid-South, our concept of being a Christian is to be nicer than Jesus. Honestly, when newcomers visit our city, they walk away talking about how NICE everybody is. And it's true! People really ARE nice around here. So, if you are a believer in Jesus living in this culture, you really have to GO some to be nicer than your average bear around here! But, surprisingly to me, Beth Moore did NOT teach that the quality of gentleness meant "niceness".
Gentleness, which is translated as "meekness" in some versions, actually receives this definition from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament: it says that gentleness refers to "an inward grace of the soul, calmness toward God in particular. It is the acceptance of God's dealings with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him."
In other words, gentleness can be defined as ceasing to fight God.
Oh, and there's another word that can be used to help define gentleness that is near and dear to all our hearts (NOT). and that word is "submission".
It's a willingness to be on one's face on the ground in worship and say with Job: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
Or to pray as Jesus prayed in the garden: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
Well, I don't know about you, but this really TICKS ME OFF!!!
OK, I'm mostly kidding, but the trouble is: I want what I want, when I want it, and the way that I want it, and please, don't get in my way, and it would REALLY help if God would get on board with MY excellent ideas.
Can you relate?
Obviously, I have some growing to do in the area of living a surrendered life.
When it comes down to it, my practical side realizes, "What choice do I have?" I mean, after all, my arms are too short to box with God. But oh, from time to time, how I do give it my best shot!
But I want to grow in gentleness. I want to quit constantly fighting God on the good qualities He would love to have permission to form in my character. I want to gain from the pain, do you know what I mean? Because while I don't believe that He causes bad things to happen simply because I need the personal growth and development, I do believe that He has beautiful, redemptive work that He wants to do in me, and ultimately, through me. But if I keep fighting Him on things, it's going to be a slower process, and that's for sure.
And I don't want to just "say the words" that indicate submission to Him. I want to MEAN IT, on the inside. To trust Him enough to surrender to His will for my life, and to know that whatever comes, He can use the worst of it in beautiful ways, if I'll just cling to Him in the process.
Beth Moore said that wherever we find our anger bubbling up in ways that are disproportionate to the situation at hand, that it comes from wounds that we are carrying around in our spirits, wounds that we have not allowed our dear Abba to bind up, so that they can heal. If you touch an open wound it HURTS! And we bleed all over the people who have touched it. But if we spend time alone with Him, and pour out our hearts and our hurts to Him, and allow Him to clean out the wound, and bind it up, then a scar can form. And it doesn't hurt to touch a scar. But the scar will allow us to show the healed place to others (just as Jesus showed His scars to Thomas), to give others suffering from a similar wound, hope.
So, anyway, I find myself to be desperately in need of a little gentleness in my life. Because I want every good thing my Father has for me on the other side of submitting to Him.
How about you?