In 2009, a week after surgery, I returned to the hospital with a fever and vomiting. I was too sick to care if I lived or died. After putting dye through my veins and finding infection throughout my stomach, I was given two potent drugs. Unfortunately, these drugs caused side-effects which had me calling for a nurse regularly. Thankfully, I was blessed with two genuinely kind and helpful nurses. But, when their shift ended, and others took their place, kind-heartedness and helpfulness left as well.
I’m certainly not gentle and kind by nature. I suppose most people are not. There are those rare individuals that don’t say a harsh word and kindness drips from their lips. But they are few and far between. It takes the overhauling work of the Holy Spirit to produce purifying fruit. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a, NLT). My flesh is incapable of “mustering-up” these fruits borne by the Spirit and I find that some days my verbal instrument is preset to the easy programing of what my heart is feeling which is rarely good. Kindness and gentleness are undeniably a work of the Spirit, a work I must agree to allow and then to act in implementing ways that help remind me and drive me more and more to these gracious virtues. God’s Word instructs a servant of the Lord to be kind and gentle (2 Timothy 2:24-25).
“The graces [fruits] of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior. So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness . . . it is a real breaking and crushing of self.”Streams in the Desert 1
My gracious heavenly Father helps in ways that amaze me; He gave me more opportunity to work on these beautiful virtues just the other day while shopping at Wal-Mart. Yes, I’m sure you understand!
As I scanned spray-bottle-lined shelves for terminating your worst antagonist: wasp, roaches, flees, etc., a woman probes me for information on which product works. Since there are several brands on the shelf for terminating a number of beasts, I told her my problem was with wasp and gnats. She proceeds to tell me she could live with wasp and gnats! it was flees that were going to kill her. As I stood there bewildered, my mind raced to the fact that having wasp was not a good thing because of my grandchildren and not to mention a wasp could kill someone allergic to their sting. I’m always on high alert because I am allergic but thankfully, so far, I haven’t had trouble in breathing but swelling is my problem. And then to experience the “demonic” gnats stretches well beyond a nuisance (read my post entitled: Gnat Affliction!). And then my thoughts were how I battled fleas in a parsonage (ripping up carpet) and in a townhouse (pets were not allowed but the previous renters didn’t follow that rule), and we did in fact successfully terminate them.
As we think of others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4), we can show gentleness and kindness. It is true, we will constantly be running into people who only care about themselves while not thinking twice about how they sound. So, thank the Lord for the practice. Sometimes, it takes remaining quiet and letting the other person talk. Sometimes we need to share a kind word with a gentle spirit but always to think more highly of the other person than we do ourselves. It is a real breaking and crushing of self: denying self!
Now wouldn’t our world look so different if we put into practice the precepts of the Bible?!