There is no denying that we live in a climate of polarity. Those on the left are going further left, and those on the right are going further right. Conversations are rare where one can even admit there is validity or truth in a counter-argument to what they believe.
How can we learn and grow, be challenged and sharpened in our understanding, if we are not able to hold a conversation with someone who differs from our opinion? There is an almost immediate offense, walls go up, and the fight is on. There is a lack of civility, and really, there is a lack of gentleness toward others.
Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, and one of the keys to having a constructive conversation with someone on the other side of the fence from you (Gal. 5:23).
The book of Proverbs tells us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1 CSB). How much better would we show the love of Jesus Christ if our responses were filled with gentleness? How would it change our reputation as Christians in the world? How would it change personal relationships with family members and co-workers?
I’m not saying practicing a spirit of gentleness will solve all the problems we see around us, but it can definitely be a help. It starts with one person being willing to extend a gentle answer rather than the normal, reactive, harsh word that only stirs up more anger and volatility.
Gentleness is something that must be cultivated. The Holy Spirit must work in our hearts to soften them and mold them into Christ’s image. A leader is someone who, honestly, is willing to swallow his or her pride and do what is hard because no one else will.
If we are going to build bridges, set examples for our children and loved ones, and show the world the love of Christ, we must be men and women filled to overflowing with gentleness. It’s a difference-maker. This is how we’ll be able to impact the world around us and lead well through conflict, change and difficulty.
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 CSB)