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The Art of Gentleness

“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”  1 Thessalonians 2:7 (NKJV) 

Much of the interaction between people today has degenerated into a harsh, inconsiderate exchange.  Few seem to understand the value of gentleness.  Instead, roughness and sarcasm are the accepted ways to express our opinions and impose our wills.  Many people, however, are totally unaware that they are rude or that the way they speak and act impacts others.  They may even deny their prejudice because, to them, they mean no harm.  The standard response to any negative reaction is to growl “Life is tough.  Get over it!” 

But it is the quality of gentleness that bonds the infant to the mother, that births trust in the heart of the child, and that creates the atmosphere in which loving and caring can do their greatest work.  Cardinal Newman said, “It is almost the definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain.”  Gentleness serves as the shock absorber in human relationships.  It may not change the road that must be traveled, but it can make the bone-shattering roughness of life’s bumps and potholes much easier to negotiate.  Gentleness proactively informs us on how to interact with people, and it simultaneously refuses to inflict pain on others.  

Even though we’ve come to expect rudeness and roughness in society, all of us prefer to be treated with a gentle demeanor.  Dentists, chiropractors and other health care practitioners know this.  That’s why they advertise that they cause as little physical pain as possible in their work.  By the same token, those who make a sincere effort to practice gentleness in the give and take of spiritual life will attract others to them.  

Is it time to seriously analyze your treatment of others?  Learn to choose your words more carefully and monitor your entire approach as you interact with others.  This exercise goes beyond the conventional sensitivity training that may be offered in other venues.  Rather than any superficial behavior modification technique, it starts with the deep, spiritual qualities of the heart and builds a new outlook of respect and appreciation of others. 

Respect is not just something you do; respect is an inner quality that becomes exposed when challenged!  Jesus, the Gentle Shepherd, becomes our role model.  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

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