We have to work at adding godly character to our lives, not just wish for it.
Our church here had a blessing tree this year instead of a Christmas tree. Each member was to add a paper ornament with their greatest blessing of 2017 written on it. Which of course got me thinking.
What was my greatest blessing of the year? I receive so many day by day that it’s difficult to count them, let alone choose only one. What should I write? How would you answer?
And then I sensed the Lord whispering, “Gentleness, thank me for gentleness.”
For you see, I’d prayed about having more gentleness in my heart and life throughout 2017. “Give me a gentle heart and soul that generates kind thoughts, words, and actions,” I’d prayed.
For I had lost the gentleness that had once been a part of me. In reading my high school autograph books the one phrase that repeatedly stood out was, “Stay as sweet as you are now.” So where had that sweet gentleness gone to?
I’ve always had a strong sense of right, wrong, and justice. Of wanting to make a difference and right all the world’s wrongs. Even founding and leading a Happy Helper’s Club in my childhood neighborhood, and working zealously at it.
But combined with my perfectionist tendencies, this black and white mentality made me think it was my duty to set myself and others straight through tough sternness.
Yet when I think of Christ the image of strong gentle love comes through. Yes, he was tough and stern sometimes, like in clearing the temple of money changers. But he was always a man with gentleness, strength, and wisdom all rolled into one. And I realized gentleness was what I wanted and needed to reclaim.
So I prayed for gentleness all throughout 2017.
And one of the things I prayed was, “Lord, make me a woman of few words that really count.” The less we speak, the less possibility there is of uttering harsh and impatient words. Few, but kind and thoughtful words I’d learned, carry weight and substance.
I could have named GENTLENESS my word of the year for 2017, as many bloggers have been doing for years. But I’m not one to quickly jump on band wagons. So though it could have been my “word of the year” it was really just a prayer born of strong need.
For many years, I had lamented my lack of the Spirit’s fruit. I longed for it, but never really worked at having it. I had failed to take Peter’s words to heart.
“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5).
But by concentrating on gentleness, I started seeing more of it in my heart and life.
If we want more godly character in our lives, we have to work at it. And by feflecting on and praying over verses that speak of gentleness for that entire year changed me from the inside. I was allowing God to write his words on my heart, working at diligently supplementing my faith with the fruit of the Spirit. And I learned that it’s something I want to work on every year!
Each year we have a whole new year ahead. Will we stay the same? Will we take those blank pages and never let the Holy Spirit write on them?
Or will we decide to work with him at writing just a bit of newness of life on them each day?
[Photo by sasint, Pixabay.com.]