As a mum in a busy, hectic household I must admit that I don’t always feel like I have much gentleness or self-control at times.
I aspire to be the gentle, meek, mild epitome of a good Christian wife and mother, always measured, always calm, but I’m afraid that I still have a long way to go!
Kids have the ability to push your buttons. There are moments when my head becomes so crammed full of their bickering, shouting at each other and lively mischief that I can’t contain it any more and end up crying out “STOP!”
Sometimes, even by the time I’ve dropped them off at school I feel stressed and I’ve barely got through the first two hours of the day! Yet, the simple tasks of eating breakfast, getting dressed, putting coats and shoes on and walking to school seem to involve so many issues to deal with that, after I’ve kissed them goodbye and told them that I love them, I spend the return journey practising deep breathing and relaxation techniques to try and de-stress!
Ok, Ok I know parenting isn’t all bad, but it can be a tough job at times and does have the tendency to bring out the worst in us. Sometimes, the tantrums that I have rival those of my three year old and I end the day reflecting that I probably behaved worse than the kids!
Today, we conclude the series Healthy Soul where we have been studying the fruit of the Spirit. The last two fruit of the Spirit, gentleness and self-control sometimes feel like they are displayed the least in my life. I need the Holy Spirit to help me in these areas as gentleness certainly does not come naturally to me.
Reading about the last two fruit of the Spirit makes me squirm somewhat, because I don’t regard myself as being a very self-controlled person.
I get very animated and raise my voice a lot when I’m passionate about something or something has made me angry.
I’m clumsy and often bump and clunk around.
I do have a tendency to be bad-tempered and irritable when I’m tired or hormonal.
Having gentleness and self-control are not attributes that I would necessarily associate with myself.
When I got married I had this image of a demure, dignified, beautiful bride that I wanted to be. I hoped to have that quiet inner gracefulness and gentleness which would characterise the way I would conduct myself throughout my wedding day.
Hmm, the problem is that’s just not me.
I was the sort of bride who stepped in a puddle on the way to the church and needed my dress sponging, who had the tendency to talk a bit too loudly when I was excited or nervous and who rocked on the dance floor to Meatloaf!
Not really the demure, blushing bride.
So, how does the concept of gentleness and self-control apply to those of us who are not quiet, serene, placid types? God made all of us and designed our personalities to be diverse and colourful and I don’t expect that He created some of us with personalities that directly contradict the way He wants Christians to behave.
This passage from Ephesians gives us some more clues –
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Gentleness and self-control are not just characteristics of personality that some people are blessed with, making then graceful, ladylike, meek and mild.
They are about the way we treat others. Especially when we are wronged.
Gentleness and self-control are about being strong under control.
It’s about being patient and tolerant of others, especially those who are different to us and take us outside of our comfort zone. It’s about not retaliating when people do hurtful things to us, but learning to forgive and show forbearance.
This does not mean being a doormat and allowing abusive people to walk all over us.
But preserving the unity of the Spirit and showing grace and peace as a priority in our relationships with others.
Being humble and submissive to God as having authority over our lives.
Being prepared to be dependent on Him in our weaknesses and inadequacies.
Be dedicated to giving Him the glory in all that we do rather than edifying our own egos.
We have been called to be disciples of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is with us to help us to learn how to become more like Him. Jesus showed the ultimate in gentleness and self-control even in the face of extreme adversity.
When we face trials we can choose to turn away from God and go our own way allowing our negative emotions to control us. We give ourselves permission to sin, convincing ourselves that we are justified because we are going through something so bad.
However, if during those times we press into God and allow the Holy Spirit to help us the fruit of gentleness and self-control will flourish in our lives. It is through the tough times where we have the opportunity to grow most in becoming more like Jesus.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
This devotion has been republished from the archives in case you missed it.
And now it’s linkup time!!!
Photo credit – Erik Araujo – Stock.Xchng