Gentleness: An Uncommon Virtue
- Monday, February 04, 2008
In our harried, loud, and in-your-face lives it seems tranquility is a vanishing hope on the horizon. We have existed in an aggressive and demanding environment for so long that, unknowingly, many have adopted this kind of lifestyle for themselves or have begun to think of it as normal. It may be normal for the masses, but it should not be normal for the Christian-- especially for the Christian homeschooling parent.
What is gentleness?
Gentleness is freedom or separation from all harshness, roughness or intensity. It is felt in a soft summer breeze or a soft touch on your shoulder. It is seen in a balmy lake, the delicate way snowflakes fall from the sky or the graceful gliding of leaves as they drift to the ground on an autumn afternoon. It is heard in soft voice of a shepherd as he sings to his sheep, a husband as he whispers, "I love you" into the ear of his resting wife, or the soft cascade of water as it flows over the rocks of a meadow brook. Gentleness is a pleasant, easily entreated quality that invites warmth, comfort and truth. Gentleness creates an environment which makes learning possible and living pleasurable. All those sharp, coarse, abrasive edges of conflict have been removed.
Why is gentleness so rare?
First of all, we were born with a sinful nature. It is a part of our history. Our brains have deep paths worn into them from all the years we have "walked according to the flesh." Our feet have become so used to slogging through harsh muck and mire that, even after we have been born-again, we often still act like we are weighted down with sin or shackled by heavy burdens. Living the harsh, cruel life is our natural default. It requires no thought, no discipline, no mind renewing. Gentleness is a rare quality in many believer's lives and homes because we often still think and live like we did when we were heathens. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The Bible indicates that sanctification is the process of growing out of that old behavior as we mature in Christ. Gentleness may be an uncommon characteristic because so many people never realize that their salvation was intended to go beyond their initial belief in Jesus Christ, God's Only Begotten Son. They never realize the power of a daily washing in the Word of God. They underestimate the exceeding abundance of God's grace. They are ignorant of the Holy Spirit's comfort and instruction and, therefore, never experience His fruitfulness in their lives.
Why is gentleness necessary?
Gentleness creates the proper environment for growth and maturity. It's easy to see the difference between children who have been raised in a stressful, mean, emotionally distant and unstable home and those whose parents were patient, kind, protective, and nurturing. Gentleness is one of the qualities which makes the difference. It creates a soft surface for learning how to deal with life's hard knocks. If the spirit of gentleness rules in the home, then anxiety is minimized. Children are not terrified of their parents. Communication is kept warm and inviting. Gentleness keeps childish secrets from collecting in dark closets and then resurfacing in the form of rebellion, anger, and resentment in future years. When gentleness is in the soil, other virtues seem to take root and grow with amazing success. Good fruit results.
How do I become something that I'm not?
A few years ago my wife and I decided to plant a garden. I did not own a roto-tiller, so I dug a 10' x 10' plot in the back yard with my shovel. I ripped up the old sod, turned over the soil, broke up the clods of dirt, raked it smooth and added some fertilizer. The ground was hard-packed clay and loaded with dandelion seeds, and a thousand other unidentifiable weeds--I had no idea how to fight this battle.
Shortly after we planted the vegetables, the weeds took over. Jenny and I tried to keep up with them, but our best efforts made little difference that first year. Our harvest was pathetic. Autumn came and I mulched the garden with newspaper, leaves from the maple tree, horse manure and straw. The following spring I borrowed a tiller and worked the dirt for several hours. We kept up on the weeding better than the year before, but by August things were out of hand and we were grew discouraged.
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