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Written by Nancy Ruegg for “From the Inside Out” @ http://nancyaruegg.com
Original post @ https://nancyaruegg.com/2019/06/27/the-essence-of-real-strength/
The Essence of Real Strength
June 27, 2019 by Nancy Ruegg
How would you fill in the blanks of this quote?
“Nothing is so strong as _______________,
Nothing so _______________ as real strength.”
–St. Frances de Sales (1567-1622)
Discipline / disciplined
Gentleness / gentle
Steadfastness / steadfast
According to de Sales, the answer is 2.
Yet gentleness is not a trait that readily comes to mind when we hear the word strength. We’re more likely to describe the strong person as self-confident, self-reliant, and assertive.
But consider which of the following actions requires more fortitude:
Defending one’s own rights or deferring to another’s?
Airing one’s views or actively listening to understand someone else’s?
Tackling the personal to-do list or taking time to help another person with theirs?
Gentleness includes consideration, kindness, and grace. It is genial, not demanding its own way, and it refuses to manipulate people or circumstances. Neither is it easily threatened, offended, or angered. Gentleness requires humility, maturity, and self-control.
Most of us do not gravitate toward such habits on our own. It takes strength to become gentle—strength that begins with God, as we learn to relax in his sovereignty over all things (Psalm 145:13), and count on him to work in his way (Proverbs 16:4a), in his time (Acts 1:7).
Gentleness begins to grow in our spirits as we:
Become acquainted with the One who personifies gentleness–Jesus (Matthew 11:29)
Choose to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18), which improves our perspective and calms our spirits
Refuse to complain or grumble (Philippians 2:14)
Desire to be molded by God and patterned after his purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
Affirm trust in his reliability and endless resources (Psalm 62:5-8)
Practice his presence (Exodus 33:14) through continual, prayerful connection
And the result? “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 NASB, emphasis added).
Or, as Max Lucado interprets the verse, “Blessed are those who acknowledge that there is only one God and have quit applying for his position.” *
That inheritance Jesus promised includes joyful contentment in God’s provision and pleasure in the simple things of life, the delight of blessing others and celebrating their successes.
My grandmother was just such a person.
Before she turned forty, Grandma lost a young sister, a toddler son, and her husband. During the depression she kept the mortgage paid and her family clothed and fed by baking all night, then catching a bit of sleep while the three children were at school. Yet Grandma’s strong faith in God never wavered. (You can read more about this amazing woman in another post, The God of Rachel, Henry, and Clara, Part 1).
I never heard Grandma raise her voice or speak unkindly. What I do remember is hearing her humming along with the hymns on the radio as she worked in the kitchen.
She spent much of her time serving others, beginning with family. When Grandma stayed with us, she mended and hemmed our clothes, helped turn the apples from our tree into applesauce for the freezer, and braided old woolens into small rugs to place in front of our doors.
Grandma was gracious with praise and gratitude. One time I noticed tiny aphids on her prized African violets. You’d think I’d saved the neighborhood from a locust invasion. “Well aren’t you my Little Bunny Bright-Eyes!” Grandma cried, and hugged me tight. “I hate to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been here. Thank you!”
Later in life she developed neuralgia in her right cheek. The slightest breeze could cause an agonizing bout of pain. Grandma would grimace and gasp as her hand flew to her face. But she did not complain.
In these ways and many more Grandma Rachel proved that the strong of faith do indeed become the gentle of spirit.
* * * * * * * * * *
O God, I know the quality of gentleness is precious to you, and I want to cultivate a life that brings you honor and pleasure. Keep me mindful of your empowering presence so that your gentle spirit of grace, kindness, and goodness will flow through me to others.
(1 Peter 3:4; Psalm 147:11; Isaiah 40:11; Galatians 5:22-23)
Who provided an example of gentle strength in your life? Tell us about them in the comment section below!
* Grace for the Moment, Thomas Nelson, 2000, p. 277.
Photo credits: http://www.needpix.com (2); http://www.heartlight.org (3); dailyverses.net (2).