Gentleness: Strength under ControlPublished in the September 2012 issue of Faithlink, the magazine of Faith Methodist Church
“Dad, I pick up a bad habit from you!” That was what one of my sons told me a couple of months ago. That habit seemingly is my irritability ... shown on my face and in my tone of voice. Then about a month later, I had a conflict with my other son. I had weighed my words carefully so as not to pass judgment but my wife told me that my facial expression communicated a different message and she added that this son is sensitive to my body language. I believe that I was correct in my assessment of the situation but of course, my son would dispute that. What do all these have to do with “gentleness”?
In Galatians 5:22, “gentleness” is translated from a word that means “kindness” or “usefulness” i.e., morally, excellence (in character or demeanor). First and foremost, gentleness is a heart attitude (1 Pet. 3:4) and this inner quality is evident in a person’s words and actions. His words are kind and soothing (c.f., Prov. 15:1). His actions towards others are kind and humble, considering others as more important than himself. Jesus is our example; He is gentle and humble (Matt. 11:29).
I am a careful and controlled person. Yes, I do get upset but my reaction is always triggered by others (read, family members). I love my wife and play many supporting roles to her and one of these is IT support. However, I get upset when she is slow in finding a file on her computer, when I had to format a messy document or do what I deemed as “inefficient”. She had told me many times, “Please, be patient with me.” But I have not seen “irritability” as my problem ... it is my “justified reaction". But in the light of the above Scriptures, I have to conclude, it is my problem. I am responsible for my actions ... and reactions. Like gentleness, irritability begins in the heart but it manifests itself in words and actions that are the opposite of gentleness.
I seek to honour the LORD. As a parent and a teacher, I subscribe to 1 Cor. 11:1 which states, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” But my son’s comment that he picked up the bad habit from me is humbling. That day, when I had the conflict with my other son, my wife added, “I bear with your irritability all these years but each time your irritability causes great distress in me.” I did not realize that my behavior is having such a devastating impact on my dear wife for so long.
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