Philippians 4:5: Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. (NRSV)
I’ll never forget the expert nurse who attended me when I was in labor with my youngest son. I marveled at her ability to anticipate my physical needs and the gentle way she handled me. Her attuned, peaceful presence helped me relax and eased my pain.
You could describe our journey through life as a laborious and painful birthing process. Romans 8:23 says that we “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Thankfully, we have the Spirit who is always near and who is just as “gentle and humble in heart” as the One he represents. This sensitive attendant continually comforts and helps us in our weaknesses.
I needed the Spirit’s presence much more desperately in the isolation and loneliness of this past year. Perhaps you can relate! For me, this resulted in talking less and listening more. Drinking in his affirming words while actively rejecting the accuser’s. Leaning harder on him, less on myself. I needed a lot of correction, and his gentleness surprised me because I tend to believe the lie that the Lord is stern and harsh.
I’m beginning to see that when I let the Holy Spirit minister to the most vulnerable parts of myself, it frees me to be more other-focused than self-focused. And isn’t self at the root of our most jarring and harsh behaviors? When we’re critical, irritable or dominating, for example, we’re too self oriented to be aware of the grating effect we have on those around us. We aren’t kind and gentle, and we forget, as the famous quote goes, that “everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle.”
Lord, thank you that you remain close by our side. Thank you that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit available for picking 24/7. Still our deep hunger for your gentle ministry and then your abundance will overflow to others. Amen.
Published with Lifesprings International, 6/1/21.