People who exercise gentleness are more likely to have other people respond to them with kindness. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This proverb rings true in my own life. Often when I speak with a harsh tone in my voice I’m more likely to stir up anger and frustration rather than create a peaceful environment.
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” It’s difficult to break bad habits and patterns in our lives, and therefore we often find that we do what we wish we didn’t do. I wish that my instinctual response was to speak with gentleness always, but I have to practice being gentle. I need reminders in my life that show me where I can grow in gentleness, most often I find I need to be more gentle with my family.
I came across this prayer written by Scotty Smith who is a pastor at Christ Community Church in Tennessee. I thought his prayer captured gentleness quite beautifully. Scotty writes,
“Dear Lord Jesus, the first thing this Scripture makes me think about is you, for no one more gentle than you. No one is as welcoming of sinners, as kind to the broken, or as understanding of the struggling as you.
You’re like the perfect surgeon—the one I want working on me. You never get nervous, flustered, agitated, or hurried. You have a steady hand because of your steady heart, and I gladly surrender to both today, for I want to grow in gentleness.
Gentle me when I’m behind slow drivers who stay in the fast lane. Gentle me when I face both fair and unfair criticism. Gentle me when I think things that are obvious to me ought to be obvious to everybody else. Gentle me when loud people invade “my” space—as though I have some inalienable right to an uninterrupted life.
Gentle me when I’m too tired to engage but my wife really needs me to listen. Gentle me when I lose a 200 lb. Halibut (happened yesterday). Gentle me when someone gets the last piece of chocolate cake I was already planning on enjoying with a glass of milk.
Gentle me when the vacation gets cut short by crises. Gentle me when friends keep making the same mistakes and foolish choices. Gentle me when the restaurant sends me home with the wrong takeout order. Gentle me when Satan starts condemning me for things I actually did, but things for which you already paid my debt.
Gentle me when I start debating theology rather than loving the people who see things differently. Gentle me when I can’t “fix” the people you never gave me to fix. Gentle me when the care I just fixed needs fixing again.
Lord Jesus, you are so near to us in the gospel; in fact, you live in our hearts; and you’re also near in terms of returning to finish making all things new. May your nearness generate a much quicker repentance on my part, when my first reaction might be agitation, frustration or whining or worry. Make me a gentle man by the gospel and for your glory. So very Amen I pray, in your kind and loving name.”
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” ~ Phil. 4:5
We all have places in our lives where we want to be more gentle. We want to respond in more loving ways rather than with harsh words. What are the areas in your life you would like to be gentled? How can you make this prayer into your own prayer for gentleness?