A gentile spirit is not often observed in our day. Many have harsh spirits displayed openly to all. Do you have a long or a short fuse? It is rare that a person remains gentle every hour of every day. When a believer is harsh and disgruntled it is not because the fruit of the Spirit is not available–it is because he/she is walking in the flesh. You can either walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh, but you cannot do both at the same time.
Have you ever been to Disney World? It is proclaimed as the happiest place on earth! My wife and I were visiting there and observed many families. They were supposed to be happy in this happiest place on earth. While watching those families we discovered that not everyone was happy. Many of them had short fuses. Their wonderful environment did not seem to have a positive effect on their negative spirit.
Obvious problems in the visiting families of the happiest place on earth needed to be addressed. Yet, to address a problem does not mean it is a painless experience. Suppose I have a splinter in my hand and I ask you to remove the splinter. The use of a needle to help extract the splinter would be helpful. A needle is not gentle, but I hope that in the process of using the needle you will be gentle. You cannot ignore a splinter. The pain continually reminds you of its presence. Hopefully you can find someone with a gentle hand to help you. Some things in our personal lives are also not pleasant to deal with, but need help.
Have you noticed how people can sound gentle with part of their statement and then slam you with the rest of their statement? Many famous people have made humorous quotes that illustrate this backhanded gentleness. Notice these examples:
• Abraham Lincoln said, of a man he didn’t care for, “He can press the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.” He may have said it gentle but the message was not very gentle.
• Winston Churchill remarked, “That man has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
• William Faulkner said, about Ernest Hemingway, “He’s never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
• Oscar Wilde stated, “He has no enemies but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
• Steven Bishop said this, “I feel so miserable without you it’s almost like having you here.”
• Groucho Marx said, “You’ve got the brain of a four-year-old boy and I bet he was glad to get rid of it.”
Sometimes our intention is to be gentle, but we say the wrong things. Gentleness reveals a long fuse. Endurance of a difficult situation with a gentle spirit helps calm a situation. A gentle spirit produced by God’s Spirit has no harshness, even in the intent of the spoken word or in the atmosphere left in a room. Ask God to help you improve your consistency of walking in His Spirit so that gentleness increases.
But the fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness…
*Adapted from The Christian Life: A Human Impossibility by Kerry L. Skinner