Gentleness – even the word itself calms me down somehow.
Just saying it, I can picture the peaceful strength of a soul that doesn’t flit around like I do, worrying, fretting and talking too much. No, she calmly and confidently, but gently, moves through the storm, eyes fixed on God, feathers unruffled.
A gentle soul – who comes into your mind?
Do you know one of those gentle, surrendered souls?
Maybe you are one. I am not.
No, I look at that gentleness and breathe a deep sigh and a prayer, “Oh God – could I not be gentle for just one moment? It looks so wonderful and peaceful – couldn’t that just be me for once?”
I have failed miserably trying to get myself there – into that gentle place. So I really needed Beth’s teaching on this eighth quality of the Spirit. (Once again, it was so enlightening that I wish I could share it all. But, better than that is for you to go get this study for yourself. You will not be disappointed.)
The Greek word for gentleness is praotes. Beth quotes a description of the word:
“Primarily it does not denote outward expression of feeling, but an inward grace of the soul, calmness toward God in particular. It is the acceptance of God’s dealing with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.”
I love the word surrender. I believe it is the most important thing we must do on this earth. I think it sums up our relationship with God. And it definitely is key to being filled with the Spirit, especially gentleness.
Surrender. Say it with a deep breath in and out. Feel it shiver through you.
“As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right.” Jeremiah 26:14
It is not an easy task by any means. In fact I don’t know if I have ever achieved a complete surrender to God. I try – oh I do try. Because I believe in that surrender to God’s will that I will be able to experience His peace and His Holy Spirit. But my nature is just to keep taking back some of that surrender until I am out of submission to Him and fighting against Him.
Beth describes proates as:
“The complete surrender to God’s will and way in your life…basically to stop fighting God. It is quite the opposite of weakness. Meekness or gentleness is the power and strength created from submitting to God’s will. Gentleness is responsibility with power.”
But we can’t stop there, Beth teaches. Coupled with that sacrificial submission we need humility. She says,
“ Humility is one of the supernatural results of being rightly related to God…Humility does not mean self-hatred and abasement…false humility is just another form of pride…True humility is born on bent knees.”
Through the Holy Spirit and through the reading of the Word, we can gain this humility, this bending of the knee before God, and be freed of the pride and stubbornness that binds us. Just like when we surrender, we will feel that rush of peace and freedom as we submit in humility and right ourselves with God. Then we can sincerely move toward the attitude of Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.”
And the third aspect of gentleness that Beth outlines is teachability. We need to have a teachable spirit.
Oh – this one can be really hard!
There are some people and teachers that I eagerly learn from. I seek their wisdom and soak it up. Then there are other times and people that I want nothing from. My pride and stubbornness get in the way. Beth warns us about this hindrance to a teachable spirit, “A precious part of praotes is being willing and anxious to learn, regardless of who He chooses as our unlikely teacher.”
There may be teachers, circumstances and lessons we resist learning through, but we need to surrender to God’s instruction. “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” Proverbs 4:3
Finally, Beth ends with an incredibly insightful look at the gentleness required to teach. This was the highlight of the week’s study for me.
Unfortuately there are some people out there “teaching” who have no business doing or saying what they are. It is painful to watch. Beth shows how the application of gentleness should affect teaching.
“God’s teachers are not called to wield the Word of God like a baseball bat. The Sword of the Spirit is to injure Satan, not the body of Christ.”
The Bible gives strict guidelines for teachers. Teachers are to teach God’s word, as did Christ (John 8:28-29) and not their own opinions. Furthermore they are to teach with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15.)
Now don’t you wish that all the teachers out there remembered those instructions?
But if you thought you might get off the hook thinking you are not a “teacher,” Beth reminds us to look at our positions in life at home, work or church and see that we are all in some “teaching positions” and we all need to apply these truths to our lives.
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26
That is such a convicting and challenging verse. I don’t know about you, but I fall very short of that description. Yet, in humility and submission, I can look to this standard and confess my sins. And with the Holy Spirit, I can move forward in His Power, defeating the enemy who wants to leave me bound with chains of fear, anger and pride.
Gentleness. It isn’t weakness at all. It is power and strength. It is calm in the storm. And we can have it through the Holy Spirit as we submit to God’s will, with humility and a teachable spirit.
I surrender to you Lord. I need to fall down before you and soak in all you are teaching me. Convict me of my sin and empower me to live the life of a servant that you have called me to. Forgive me once again Lord. And thank you so much for your continued mercy towards me.
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links
to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for
the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm – Saturday 8am.
Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is
welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live
beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of