Family Devotional: Gentleness

This week, we finished our last lesson on the Fruits of the Spirit.   August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Being the parent of three little girls did not prepare me for having a son. My girls seemed innately gentle with their toys, especially dolls & stuffed animals. Even when they were upset with each other, they wouldn’t push or shove. Each time a new baby came into our house, they would clamor around to take turns holding and cuddling with the expertise of a well-seasoned grandma. When my son was able to begin crawling and walkie, I soon learned that he handled his toys very differently than his sisters. He wasn’t gentle with his clothes, his food, or with his toys. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t purposely damaging his stuff, but instead he played hard. Crashes, high speeds, squealing, and oops were a constant part of his daily life.
When he was two years old, his first cousin was born. We wondered how this seemingly ungentle toddler would respond to a baby crawling around and grabbing his toys. Their first interactions revealed a side of our son we didn’t realize was there. He was patient, gentle, and shared willingly, even when a toy was ripped from his grasp. Over the past 4 years, he has had lots of practice with babies, toddlers, and even preschool cousins interfering with his activities, grabbing his toys, and even breaking his stuff. Yet, through it all he has been extremely patient and gentle.

Galatians 5 describes one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life as gentleness. What is gentleness? It is the humble and meek attitude of wanting to help other people instead of wanting to be superior to them. This attitude flows from a spirit of real love for the individual—having true, outgoing concern for his or her well-being. This attitude is shown in how we think about, treat, and what we say to others. Jesus lived His life by humbly responding to others with gentleness instead of asserting His authority or power over them. He patiently cared for people and desired that all would find healing in God’s love and grace.

Gentleness isn’t our normal response in every situation. If someone tries to take something from us, breaks our stuff, or yells at us, our first response doesn’t usually sound gentle. Instead, we may get angry, yell back, or worse. The key here is spending time with Jesus. When we spend time in prayer, in worship, reading the Bible, and with other Christians, we find it easier to respond like Jesus would.

Ask your kids to think about how much they learn and understand during the school year. They may have mastered addition or multiplication, but when they take three months off during the summer, they can start to forget some of what they learned. Instead of being really good at it, they may struggle until they’ve had some practice. Spending time with Jesus helps us to grow, learn new skills, and respond to tough situations with His help. When we are away from Him for a while, we start to forget or lose some of these skills.

Gentleness also takes some practice. Try role-playing some scenarios that usually cause members of your family to get upset or angry. Then try out some responses that involve being gentle instead. If we practice enough times, then this new skill can become automatic. For example, when you first began to read, you were probably slow. Over time, with practice, your reading got better and better.

Here’s a challenge for your family: Try spending 5 minutes each day with Jesus. It can be in prayer, worship, Bible reading, or writing to Him. Then watch for opportunities to respond with gentleness instead of anger and help each other with gentle reminders as situations occur.

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