Tag Archives: gentleness

1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8; 1 Timothy 5

It starts with me. It’s easy to want to credit someone else’s behavior for the stoking of my poor response, but truly, I am responsible for the things I say and do. As I read through 1 Timothy 5, I make sure to think long on this guidance.

Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NLT, emphasis mine)

This link to family: as you would to your father; as you would to your brothers; as you would to your mother; as you would to your own sisters. Kindness begins at home. When this tenderness is modeled at home, it has the potential to affect a community, a world. The opposite is also possible–strife, banter, unkindness, coarseness, sarcasm … these things can also grow in momentum and branch out to the world.

Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. (1 Timothy 5:3-4, NLT, emphasis mine)

Many of the verses I read reference home and family, placing importance on interaction, relationship and personal responsibility.

22 Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22, NLT)

These sentences in verse 22 are blocked together, but I read them as two separate thoughts: one about appointment and the other about not sharing in another’s sin and a reminder onstaying pure. I would have to look further into them to see a connection, but I do think on the importance of sound leadership and the effect leadership has on a group. I do see a focus on individual accountability and warning to not participate in sins others commit–to keep oneself pure.

It starts with me.

24 Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. 25 In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light. (1 Timothy 5:24-25, NLT)

Some things are obvious. Some things won’t come to light until later. I think long on my own choices, my relationships and influences, and where my focus ultimately rests.

Lord, you give me your word as guidance and wisdom to withstand the ages. May I always turn to you first.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 5 day reading plan, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Job 6-8; 1 John 1

Perhaps in today’s terms, he’d be authentic, vulnerable, transparent.

If my misery could be weighed
    and my troubles be put on the scales,
they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.
    That is why I spoke impulsively. (Job 6:2-3, NLT, in response to Eliphaz)

But his unlovely grappling with the tragedies in his life brought him criticism and condemnation instead of comfort or understanding–from his very own friends.

One should be kind to a fainting friend,
    but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook
    that overflows its banks in the spring
16     when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
17 But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears.
    The brook vanishes in the heat. (Job 6:14-17, NLT)

Job wades through turmoil. His successful, stable life and faith are scrambled by unimaginable tragedy. Whether his friends’ words were intended to help or harm, they certainly provided no comfort (think memes). He is in a pit, and whether they knew it or not, their words sparked a new burden.

I can replay his experience by rereading a passage, but in real time, real life, one often does not have the luxury to hit pause to contemplate life’s facets. In real time, replay takes place in memory and dreams, either bringing resolution or torment.

I, too, have been assigned months of futility,
    long and weary nights of misery.
Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ (Job 7:3-4, NLT)

I think on loss, disappointment, grief, anger, hurt. I think of relationships where I’ve shared things in vulnerability and authenticity (really heartache), places I thought were ones of safety, but ultimately were not. And in that pit, the weight of loss, disappointment, grief, anger and hurt are the kindling that embitters sins of resentment, unforgiveness, grudge.

It was a recurring message in books I’d read last year: No one is coming to save you.

I realized I expected friends I considered near to rally around and help me out of the pit. But the truth is, they never said they would or could. No wonder I felt alone when I was grasping the vapor belief/hope that they should.

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:5-10, NLT)

God is light, and I’m grateful for the intimacy I have with him through prayer and His Word. He is my safe place. He meets me in the ugly, scrambled spaces and speaks with clarity and gentleness–oh that I can hide his word in my heart so that I would not sin against him. Feelings let me know something is wrong–but left untended, they can become agitated and enflamed to sin. Do not be deceived. Offense and expectation have no cap on captives. Freeing others from unexpressed expectations freed me from sins of bitterness, resentment and anger. It also gave me newly found freedom to delight and invest my heart and time in more fruitful pursuits.

Courtney (66books365)

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessalonians 2

3It takes wisdom to have a good family.

It takes understanding to make it strong.

4It takes knowledge to fill a home

with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4 (ICB)

As a mother my desire is to have a great relationship with my kids. I want my home to be a place of safety, full of wonderful things and even better memories. I want my kids to be connected at the heart with me, their Daddo, each other. And, most importantly I want them to love Jesus with all their being.

There are many days I feel like a failure in all this; days when my bad mommy moments vastly outweigh the good ones. I am probably my own worst critic. It’s probably better than I sometimes think it is. I choose to hold on to the hope that my kids remember more of the positive moments, the fun times, and forget the times I’ve lost my patience and my self-control went the way of the dodo.

28A person who does not control himself

is like a city whose walls have been broken down. Proverbs 25:28 (ICB)

When I lose self-control, yell, scream, lecture, spank…I immediately witness the tiniest thread of connection my daughters and I have in that moment disintegrate like a hiker walking through a spider web stretched across the trail. Even if my calm, steady voice paired with “the look” isn’t working to get their attention, the tension-filled, impatient, MOM voice and ugly face, turns them away from me even faster.

7But we were very gentle with you. We were like a mother caring for her little children. 8Because we loved you, we were happy to share God’s Good News with you. But not only that, we were also happy to share even our own lives with you. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (ICB)

I don’t want to go through life feeling like I had a good day simply because I didn’t make front page news. I want to know that my family had a good day because I was gentle, caring, I was patient and full of self-control, even if my kids weren’t. I want them to experience my love first hand, not just hear the words come from my mouth. I want to show them who Christ is through my example. I want my family to be happy that we share our lives together. I want my house to be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

On Sunday, I actually had it together. I had some alone time, with God (an important key), and then miraculously got everyone dressed, fed and out the door on the way to church 10 minutes early. Once I got us all belted in and we were on the road, I looked in the rear view mirror at my oldest and asked her how the morning was. She thought for a moment and told me it was a good morning. I asked her why. She said, “Because, we didn’t fight.”

The treasure chest filled up a little bit more…

Yesappa, Thank You for showing me how it can be when I rely on Your wisdom and understanding to build my family up and fill my home. Help me in those moments that I struggle to see what You see. Help me love my kids more like You love them. Help me discipline like You discipline Your children. Give me strength to choose self-control and patience, and make me into a gentle mother. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 Thessalonians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms

Jeremiah 17-19; I Timothy 6

Jeremiah 18:5, 6 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”

I have never tried to sculpt pottery, but I acquired an interesting set of handmade and individually painted pieces made by a Bulgarian master potter. They have rough, terra cotta bases with smooth, shiny harvest-gold backgrounds and earthy, green and brown images baked into them by the artist’s whim. Each piece is unique in its purpose – a large fat-bellied pitcher for water, a long-neck wine carafe capped with a lady’s delicate face; a half dozen mugs with thumbprint handles to sip from Bohemian crowns of funny-faced urchins; large, scooped out bowls designed with separated rings of non-repeating swirls, lines, and scalloped edges; and heavy plates emblazoned with proud peacocks.

How long it took the potter to produce each of these pieces, I wonder sometimes. And how many pieces were started, flattened, and reshaped on the potter’s wheel before placed in the fire for hardening? How many others were found cracked and thrown in the scrap heap upon inspection?

Like pottery, says the Lord, we are pliable in His hands. He is able to shape us through our family of origin, significant events, daily trials and temptations, revelation through His word, and divine intervention. As His wheel turns and His hands smooth and etch His unique design in each of us, we can yield eagerly to His touch or become rigid and in danger of breaking. Jeremiah 19:11 “Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again…”

How can we become His masterpiece, vessels of honor, and how will we avoid being dashed into pieces, for which there is no superglue or fixing us in the end?  I Timothy 6:11 “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” As we trust Him and hope in Him, the Lord’s creative Spirit spins into our lives righteousness and godliness, and as we sway to His touch, He presses down a sturdy base of faith, whirls rings of patience, and gently hollows out the inside, deep and wide for filling with His love.

Then we will be like yet another image of beauty and strength produced by the Lord’s care. Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Fashion me each day with Your skillful hand, Oh, Lord!

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Timothy, 66 Books, Jeremiah, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Daniel 5,6,7; Titus 3

Daniel is truly to be admired. He is a strong example of how to live in a society that is not in sync with our beliefs. He reminds me of Joseph in that he is able to not just survive but succeed in such a society. I love how he quietly goes about doing what is right, without hoopla or fanfare. Without trying to fight a losing battle explaining to everyone else why what they are doing is wrong. He simply does what is right and good, and strives for excellence in everything he does. He doesn’t compromise his values to fit in, and he gains the respect of many. King Nebuchadnezzar even appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Imagine having that job!!  Darius appointed him as one of the top three administrators, and was about to make him the chief ruler. Those that were envious of him did try to get him killed, but he stood firm and God saved him in the lion’s den. Daniel’s time had not yet come; there was more for him to do.  By surviving he was able to be an even more powerful witness for God, influencing an entire nation.

Daniel didn’t have the opportunity to read the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Titus, but as a true man of God he exhibited the same characteristics that Paul described

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.  […] And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.  (Titus 3:1-2, 8-9 (NIV))

Daniel is an inspiration to us all. May we all learn to stand firm in our faith, and yet be peaceable, considerate, and always gentle toward everyone, slandering no one. May we avoid foolish controversies and arguments and instead strive to do what is excellent and profitable for everyone. Just think of the impact that each one of us has the power to make!

suegraff

5 Comments

Filed under Daniel, Titus, Uncategorized