There are only two more spiritual gifts on our inventory from Galatians 5: gentleness and self-control. Likely, we all have ideas of gentleness that come from past experiences. At a fundamental level, we might have a memory of a parent’s loving touch that was offered to us when we were a child. Maybe it is a shoulder to put our head on when our feelings are hurt, or a gentle touch fixing a scraped knee. Or maybe it was someone who held our hand as we dealt with something traumatic in our lives.
As the years go by, our specific memory of that gentleness often wanes, but what remains is a warm feeling of that person’s love and care. That is the kind of gentleness that I imagine is at work when it is a spiritual gift.
Extended to the marginalized and the hurting, those who we have touched with our careful love and compassion may or may not remember the specifics of what we did to help them, but what is left is a sense of gentleness and care.
There is a key ingredient, I think, that makes the difference in an isolated gentle and caring act, and an expression of God’s Spiritual gift of gentleness. When we are acting out of real engagement in the person’s life, instead of out of a sense of obligation, people can feel it, and it makes all the difference for them.
There are people in our lives for whom our genuine concern is easy to engage, like family members and friends. But there are others for whom gentle engagement may not occur to us, or people whom we might have barriers against because of past conflict, or personality differences. It is with these people that when God’s gift of gentleness is exhibited, and real engagement and concern takes place, barriers are torn down, love can be introduced, and relationships and people’s lives can find new, positive trajectories.
Not every story of our gentleness creates positive outcomes, but it is through that gentleness that the opportunity is presented, and people can walk into a new life. Blessings to you today, and may you find God’s Spirit at work as you seek to be a gentle people.