Cultivating the Fruit of Gentleness
By: Kristine Brown
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” - Philippians 4:5 NIV
“Mom, guess what we bought?” Hearing the excitement in my 12-year-old’s voice, I couldn’t help but smile. He and his dad ran to a nearby yard sale early that morning. I appreciated the few hours of Mom-time to relax after a particularly stressful week at work. My anticipation grew as he handed me my shoes, urging me to come outside and see.
But my anticipation turned to dread when a thought surfaced. “What was so big that I’d have to go out the front door and look in the back of the truck to see it?” Because any seasoned mom of boys knows that father-son adventures can sometimes lead to the unexpected. This particular occasion proved that theory.
I rushed outside with him to ooh and ahh over their newfound treasure. I couldn’t have prepared myself for the surprise waiting for me, which was now obvious in the stunned look on my face. A large piece of equipment sat glaring at me from the truck bed. Did I mention it was large? “It’s a woodchipper!” my son exclaimed. And with that one declaration, my mood shifted from joyful to irritated.
Without hesitating, I let my husband know my concerns in a not-so-gentle tone. “Where would we put it? How much did you pay for that thing? And why in the world did we even need a woodchipper?” I knew gentleness to be one of the fruits of the Spirit, but my gentleness definitely was not evident to my family that day.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5 NIV
In his closing words to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul issued a call to action based on everything the believers had learned. They had shown faithfulness to Paul’s ministry, even when others had not. He complimented them and urged them to continue in their ways, “for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.” (Philippians 4:16) Yet Paul knew that everyone could use a reminder about the importance of gentleness now and then. And that gentleness needed to be evident to all people.
Sometimes we can forget that all Paul talked about meant more than just our church friends on Sunday morning or the faces we pass in the grocery store aisle. It includes the people closest to us. We tend to gather up the frustration of daily life and tuck it inside, so others don’t see it. We put on a smile and greet people with kindness. But if we don’t deal with those feelings, the same frustrations can spew out in our homes, toward the people we love the most.
So what’s the answer? How do we apply God’s words and give our family the gentleness they deserve from us? We begin by discovering the connection between gratitude and a gentle attitude. In the very next verse of Philippians chapter 4, Paul reminds us, “...with thanksgiving, present your requests to God…”
Gentleness flows easily from a grateful heart. When we pause to remember to be thankful, we can replace feelings of aggravation with true gentleness. So the next time we find ourselves struggling with offering gentle words in a moment of weakness, let’s stop and think of how thankful we are. We have a choice in that moment. Choosing to be thankful will usher gentleness into our homes and help us establish the peace and joy we know is possible through Christ.
On that defining Saturday morning, I also had a choice. I could continue on a destructive path, or I could remember my blessings, like this. Lord, I am thankful for a husband who enjoys spending time with his son, which allowed me to have some quiet time today. I am thankful for a beautiful day, the trees in our yard, and the need for yard work. I am thankful for our new woodchipper. Amen.
It’s amazing what a grateful heart can do. Let’s agree to reach for gratitude when irritation creeps in and tries to steal our family’s joy. We will discover how freely gentleness flows from simply being thankful.
Kristine Brown is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and the new Over It. Devotional for Teen Girls. Discover more encouragement from Kristine to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website, kristinebrown.net.
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Originally published Wednesday, 29 March 2023.