But reject foolish and ignorant arguments, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. 2 Timothy 2:24-25 HCSB
Proclaim the message. Persist in it, whether convenient or not. Rebuke, correct and encourage with great patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 HCSB
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 NIV
We’ve been studying 2 Timothy in our women’s Sunday school class. One of the challenges was to memorize 2 Timothy, which I took on. Surprisingly, it only took me about a month to get it. As I’ve memorized it and reviewed it since then, the verses about gentleness have echoed in my head over and over.
It must be something God wants me to develop, because I keep getting many opportunities to put gentleness into practice. One of the responsibilities as an Elementary Principal involves dealing with parents. Over the last few months, I have had a few parents who have been unreasonable, irrational and argumentative. Sometimes it seems that they are just waiting to jump on someone, and the minute the slightest issue comes up, they pounce.
While these parents are chipping and chewing, these verses keep playing in the background. I want to spit back and show them the holes in their thinking and actions. Then there’s the part about not engaging in quarrels and rejecting foolish and ignorant arguments. I call it “picking my battles.”
I don’t think that I am the only one who has to deal with argumentative, unreasonable people. We all do. How we deal with them reflects what is inside and Who we belong to. One of the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5, is gentleness. That means that as the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in us, gentleness comes out like an air freshener. I wish it was just that easy. There is an aspect of me diligently working on gentleness, or any other fruit or character trait that makes me more like Jesus than like my old, grumpy self.
I pray in the morning to put on kindness, compassion, gentleness, humility and patience as listed in Colossians 3. But I still have to consciously be gentle in my interactions with difficult people. It’s kind of like if someone else finds a job for you, answering a prayer for employment and money to pay the bills. You still have to get out of bed each morning and go to work. And once there, you have to fulfill the job expectations. We have a part to play in the process.
So it is with gentleness. God works in me as I call upon Him as I daily keep in step with the Spirit. In Jerry Bridges’ book called “The Practice of Godliness,” he recommends memorizing verses about the character issue that you are working on. Hence, the above verses to memorize and to put into practice. God, work Your gentleness in and through me today, in Jesus’ name!