“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). This verse became more real to me recently after I spoke in a harsh tone to my wife. There was no need for such a response. I was simply frustrated. In its footnotes, the NET Bible gives an alternative translation as “a soft answer.” “The adjective ‘soft; tender; gentle’ is more than a mild response; it is conciliatory, an answer that restores good temper and reasonableness.” I definitely was not conciliatory toward my bride. I was ill-tempered and unreasonable.
By all accounts I had blown it with my attitude and especially with my tone of voice. It was harsh and condescending. I confessed my fault to my wife. That is spiritual progress for me. Usually, I would simply brush off my remark with an insincere “I’m sorry.” But this time I was aware of the tone in my voice. I was deeply convicted when my bride expressed “fear” that I might regress to giving her the old silent treatment. My wife’s expression of “fear” was frankly shocking to me.
Men, it has taken me a lot of years to get to where I can confess to you my shameful attitude when I get frustrated. I pride myself in being a caring guy. I am not harsh and judgmental in my outward behavior toward others. Yet my own wife can become fearful because of my harsh attitude. That makes me a hypocrite.
“Gentleness” is a new watchword for me at home. There are six references to gentleness in scripture (NIV). Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). In Col. 3:12 there is the challenge to clothe “yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Paul appeals to believers “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (II Cor. 10:1). In Phil. 4:5, Paul exhorts us to “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Phil 4:5). In I Peter 3:15, we are told to answer “with gentleness and respect.”
According to The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, “Gentleness is an image of God’s ultimate subversive power that undercuts the power structures of the world.” Jesus tells us to take his yoke and learn from him because he was “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). By doing so we would “find rest” for our souls. Men, we can be subversive by being gentle and humble in relation to our wives.
Paul urges us to live a life worthy of our calling as a follower of Jesus. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). The first place I can practice being gentle is with my wife, since Paul tells us “He who loves his wife loves himself” (Eph. 5:28). My harshness only shows how far I still have to go in loving my wife as my own flesh.
So how am I going to become gentler as a husband, father, or man – one who desires to give a gentle answer in an attitude of love and caring? I know I will not succeed in every situation. But I hope to improve in showing gentleness. Many of you could feel the same way.
Here are three things I challenge us all to do, as we ask for grace to improve. First, become aware of our attitude and tone of voice as we sincerely pray for a sensitive and gentler spirit. Second, confess on the spot when we detect a lack of gentleness. Third, seek forgiveness when we fail, while asking our wives to pray for us. We’re in this together!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our granddaughter Lily just got done with the surgery on her hip and everything went great. The surgeons recorded the procedurees to share with other doctors as this was a new tchnique. Thank you for your prayers.
Dear Ones,Hope you had a beautiful weekend! Such gorgeous perfect weather. This morning i have been doing food prep but won’t get to my exercise class as I have a long dental appointment in Remer. I would ask for prayer for our granddaughter Lily who is in Vail now and will have her hip surgery tomorrow. There are two Doctors doing it and join us in prayers that she may play soccer again. Devotions from Judy’s heartNearly every day we meet a couple on the Paul Bunyan trail who have become dear friends. We met not by chance but God’s design, and most every day we walk nearly a mile and a half together. We call our time of sharing the Lord together, Church on the Paul Bunyan trail. We go away blessed by the time of fellowship together as we seek to hear what God is saying to each of us.Since our first meeting, David has been writing poetry that God has been using to bring healing and comfort to his soul, for he has experienced several big losses. He describes it much like a storm he has been going through and Jesus has become his shelter to weather it.Each day we walk by a place on the trail so full of color. There are cattails surrounded by stunning bright yellow prairie sunflowers in full bloom. David took out his camera to capture the flowers but realized that his shadow was in the center of the picture. Nothing seemed to work to remove his shadow, not even the zoom on his camera. There were no other options as he did not have the power to move the sun. But God spoke to him with the scripture from John 3:30, (ESV), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” At first, he was not sure how this could be done but realized it happens as we make Jesus our Lord and give Him control over our life. He gets first place and we are His servants to do His will, not ours. Then our self begins to decrease and Jesus increases in our lives and others are drawn to the Light.Isn’t that what needs to happen to all of us, that we put Jesus first in our lives and give Him the control? Then we won’t be the shadow in the picture but the focus will be centered on the Lord. We will also find that we have more joy for when we no longer live for ourselves but for Him, life becomes so rich. The happiest people are not those who are self-seeking and put themselves first, but rather those who are eager to serve the Lord and others. Let us get ourselves out of the way, that the beauty of the Jesus will be seen.Challenge for today: When you sense you are casting a shadow, get self out of the way!Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy
There is a lack of “soul care” for men in the church. More time is spent on the boundaries or circumference of our lives – thinking, managing, and trying to address issues in the church. Instead of aiming at the soul, however, we tinker with religious performance, programs and activities. I join the voices crying out in our contemporary spiritual wilderness for men to pay attention to their souls. This involves the “inner journey” to the center. It is a call to what Augustine and Calvin called “the double knowledge” of “knowing God and knowing ourselves.”
Moses sent 12 spies, one from each tribe, to explore the Promised Land and come back with a report. Ten spies came back with the majority report, saying, “The people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and very strong. We even saw descendants of Anak [giants] there” (Num. 13:28). As a result, they, “spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored” (Num. 13:32).
The people complained, “Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller that we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky; we even saw the Anakites there'” (Deut. 1:28). Moses pleaded with them, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place” (Deut. 1:29-31).
Caleb and Joshua, however, brought back a minority report. After quieting the people, Caleb declared, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Num. 13:30). Joshua then declared to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good … do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. “Do not be afraid of them” (Num. 14:7-9). Because of their positive report, God declared Caleb and Joshua would survive the plague that brought death to the 10 spies who brought back the bad report.
My concern is that we are paying too much attention to a majority report about “giants” in the land. For men, many of our giants are not without but within: overeating, addictions, sexual fantasy, pornography, fear, shame, inner wounds, etc. I think you get the idea.
These are the giants we need to face and defeat. But we need groups of men who believe in “soul care.” We cannot conquer these inner giants alone. This battle takes time. It will be a process. We need brothers to stick with us as we face the giants.
Concerning the Israelites who believed the majority report, God said, “Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land…”(Num. 14:23-24). I pray that you will join me in striving to be a Caleb. Men need encouragement, not to flee from or deny their inner giants, but to be willing to fight the good fight with other brothers.
Suggested application: Seek out that kind of group – and don’t quit till you find it.