Living With Gentleness

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It is a fact. The Lord is near, and has always been near. It is also a fact that many of us know this, but too few of us actually live our public lives in that knowledge. Those who do are the saints among us. And we can thank God for their presence in our lives. They help us by making us aware of this fact of God’s nearness at all times in their gentle demeanor and actions toward everyone. Paul, in this passage from Philippians, chapter 4, is admonishing us to realize that as Christians, this awareness of God’s nearness at all times, should be manifested in our own lives too. It is the knowledge and the sense of God’s nearness to us that will manifest itself in our own gentleness toward ourselves and all others. ‘Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.’ (Philippians 4: 5)

In another of Paul’s letters, we are given a clear example of the difference between those who live in the knowledge of God’s nearness and those who do not as yet realize this. Those who are not aware of God’s nearness ‘live under the law.’ Their works are the works of the flesh: ‘immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.’ (Galatians 5: 19-21) These actions are against the law, therefore, when they are done they are under the power of the law. The law punishes such actions when they cause injury to others. If we live in this manner, we are subject to the law, and justly so.

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On the other hand those who live their lives aware of the fact that God is near receive the fruits of the Spirit and live their lives in accord with them. The fruits of the Spirit are: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, GENTLENESS, and self-control. Against such there is no law.’ (Galatians 5: 22-23) Such actions are beyond the law. They are free of the law. They are the product of living in the Spirit of God’s nearness, rather than in the ‘spirit of the age.’ As Christians we are to strive to live so, to constantly be aware of the nearness of God. In doing so, we will be given, even more, the graces we need to be able to live in the fruits of the Spirit more habitually. In walking with God, we will become gentle in all our actions, thoughts and words toward others, even those who see themselves as our enemies. Gentleness is an outward sign of our life with Christ. He is our model. The fruits of the Spirit are God’s grace in living action in our lives.

Lord, there are many times in our lives when we do not respond out of gentleness. We forget that you are near when we get caught up in the selfishness of our egos. Help us to remember always that you are near. Quiet our souls so that we can be more fully aware of your nearness each day. Help us to develop the habit of gentleness in our lives so that we, too, can manifest your nearness to our families, to our co-workers, and to all those we will meet today. We ask this prayer in your name, Jesus. Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.