“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
Almost every day, I talk to people who are hurting for many different reasons.
When we’re in those places, one of the hardest parts is that we feel not only the pain of our hurtful situation but also the compounded hurt from others doing things that unknowingly add to our pain.
Assumptions are made.
Blame is assigned.
Labels are given.
Judgment is cast.
Whether we know someone is hurting or not, we can make a decision today: We will be people of gentleness, living out Philippians 4:5 — “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
Your co-worker? Your friend? The woman at Bible study who never seems to engage? That stranger whose child is screaming in the grocery store? The neighbor who always seems grumpy and complains about everyone on your street? Maybe she’s processing some kind of pain you don’t know about. Or she’s trying to figure out something very complicated. Chances are that she is facing or has faced something challenging. How do I know that? Because she is a human living in the same confusing, often chaotic, hard-to-understand world that breaks your heart and mine.
Instead of following our first reaction to label her based on what she is doing right now, let’s pray for her based on what she’s probably facing right now. And if possible, why not offer a rare voice of encouragement or an unexpected act of kindness?
We may not be able to help the whole world be a better place today. But why not help the ones God places right in front of us? In my own life, there was a time when my heart hurt so deeply that not much helped. But I remember an ordinary day when one of my friends randomly dropped off dinner for me. She didn’t even ask to come inside. She just texted me that she left dinner on the front porch, allowing me to have my space while making sure I knew she was there for me.
I cried because I had just prayed for God to help me. And then my friend showed up. Even though the soup she made wasn’t the solution for what I was facing, I felt a lot less alone. And I felt seen by God.
You can love and help and pray for someone without knowing the full story. Help with an obvious small need. Make that phone call. Send that card you wish you would receive in the mail. Leave an encouraging comment on her social media. Stop by with her favorite coffee just to say hello. Pick a flower and place it where she can see something beautiful. I believe that when we suddenly find ourselves in the seat of suffering (and all of us will be there at some point), what we’ve modeled to others will often be returned back to us.
Judgment can end with us when gentleness flows through us. Together, let’s show someone a little less judgment and a lot more of Jesus today.
God, I pray for that person who came to my mind as I was reading today’s devotion. I pray for Your comfort and peace to be her closest companions right now. I pray You would encourage the hurting places of her heart. Help her confidently believe You are still working on her behalf even when she can’t see it. When I’m tempted to make assumptions or cast judgment in any way, help me put on gentleness so she can see more of You through me. And remind me to do something kind for her. On my own, I may not know what she needs, but You do. Help me know too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (NIV).
In addition to gentleness, what other fruit of the Spirit could you ask God to help you live more fully today? What would this look like? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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