By Auntie Em, Contributing Writer
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22 NIV
As Christians, all of us have the Holy Spirit of Christ living in us and His power available to us. If we are fully surrendered to Him, there should be evidence of it, and one of the most obvious signs is the presence of the fruit of the Spirit. Last month, we talked about the fruit of FAITHFULNESS being evident in our marriages. This month we’re looking at GENTLENESS.
Gentleness isn’t a quality that is talked about or valued much these days. “Girl power” is much more popular, and though (I believe) our culture is actively trying to squeeze the man-ness out of men, gentle men (which are very manly) aren’t the goal; neutered men are. (Sorry; soapbox area there)
Let’s look at some Scriptures instructing Believers in gentleness. Only one of these is dealing with husbands and wives, but every single one fits so well– one of the beauties of the Bible! Its truths and principles apply in every situation.
- [Believers] must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Titus 3:2
Very recently one of my daughters was at a teacher workshop and said the other teachers were having a husband-bashing fest. Ladies! You must not slander anyone– least of all your husband! Gentleness doesn’t speak hurtful words, only words that will encourage and build up those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, paraphrased) The same goes for you men.
And another thing, men– Much teaching is done on wives’ submission, but I think husbands have a much greater challenge: Love your wife like Christ loved His church. WOW. Yes, He died physically for her. But He also LIVED for her… Put Her needs above His own every time. Next time you are tempted to badmouth your wife (even if it’s the truth), think of the many times Christ has been justified to complain to His Father about His unfaithful bride — um, that would be US — but He doesn’t. Gentleness zips our lips if the only thing we have to say is negative.
- In Timothy’s admonition to church leaders, most translations use the word “gentle” describing what they must be. Different translations of what they are NOT to be feature several different words: a brawler, violent, a striker [physical]; and contentious, quarrelsome [both verbal].
I know that physical violence is a very real presence in many homes. If you are reading this and there is brawling or violence happening in your home, IT MUST STOP. RIGHT NOW. Do what you have to do to make it happen. There is nothing that justifies it. But I imagine in many homes where one would never dream of physically striking, plenty of emotional and psychological brawling is going on pretty regularly. This too is wrong. Don’t push your spouse’s buttons or be manipulative. Gentleness speaks only helpful, healing words. Sometimes they must confront difficult issues, but its done kindly, with a goal of reconciliation.
- Peter tells wives that they must have a “gentle [meek] and quiet spirit, which is of great value in God’s sight.”
When we follow God’s rules, we set ourselves up for success. Anything of great value in God’s sight is going to be to our benefit!
- Matthew 11:29 reminds us that Christ was “gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
A Christian marriage should be a haven of rest, the place where husbands and wives feel the safest and most secure. Only then can our souls find rest.
- One of my favorites, one that I have proven many times in my teaching career: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
I’ve seen teachers bow up to disrespectful or misbehaving children, oftentimes being just as rude, which invariably escalated the situation and the kids ended up being in a heap of trouble. Marital fights happen the same way. Gentleness can help us bite our tongue just a bit– lighten the situation with humor, or take a time-out– and use gentle words, even when harsh ones were spoken to us, many times the whole situation will be diffused.
- In Ephesians 4:2, Paul tells the church to Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Gentleness, patience (forbearance), love: The Holy Spirit’s wonderful gifts to every Believer, available to us so that we can have the best marriages of anyone on the planet– so they will be examples of Christ’s relationship with His Church that will draw people to Him.