After this year’s bombastic election and subsequent snarky social media posts, I spent some time reflecting on who I want to be in light of my faith. I came to this conclusion, I don’t value sarcasm and snarky. I value gentleness and I want my words, whether spoken or written, to reflect my life values.
As I was praying about my communication the Lord directed me to Philippians 4:5 where Paul writes, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Why is gentleness such a big deal? What are the benefits? Here are just a few:
Gentleness diffuses anger. When someone is angry and running off at the mouth, it’s easy to get pulled in. Our first response might be an angry defense. The wise writer of Proverbs suggests a different approach, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1.) Have you ever been in a discussion with a co-worker who is flaming mad and you choose to answer softly? It changes the whole climate. A soft answer speaks volumes. Next time you’re in an argument try this. Let the person finish venting and then simply respond slowly, softly and confidently.
Gentleness earns credibility. When you speak harshly or sarcastically to others, you lose credibility. Think about the leaders you most respect. I’m guessing that you respect those leaders who hold themselves with dignity and communicate with gentleness. Proverbs 29:11, sums it up by saying that only fools gives full vent to their anger. In other words, only foolish people let their anger flow unrestrained. Wise folks feel anger but they ask the Holy Spirit to help them exercise self-control. Gentleness, on the other hand earns you credibility.
Gentleness builds bridges to deeper communication with others. Whether with your spouse, your children, co-workers or friends if you want deeper life giving relationships, try gentleness. It’s easy in the context of family life, to stoop to harsh communication. I get it, Family life tries our patience. But, family life is also a great incubator for holy, Spirit-filled living. I remember a season where I found myself being harsh with a couple of my kids and I had to ask God to wreck me and then re-build me with gentleness. I realized, I didn’t want my kids to grow up and remember me as being a harsh mother. Gentleness builds trust. I didn’t want my words to break down trust in our home. Now it’s many years after that initial prayer but I continue to ask God to reshape my tongue with His gentleness. I want to continue to build trust in my marriage, with my co-workers and in my community. That means my communication needs to be marked by gentleness.
May I challenge you? This week, make gentleness your goal. Ask God to re-shape your tongue so that your words, whether spoken or written reflect the fruit of His Spirit. I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on gentleness?