Our church here had a blessing tree this year instead of a Christmas tree. Each member was to add a paper ornament with their greatest blessing of 2017 written on it. Which of course got me thinking.

What was my greatest blessing of the year? I receive so many day by day that it’s difficult to count them, let alone choose only one. What should I write? How would you answer?

And then I sensed the Lord whispering, “Gentleness, thank me for gentleness.”

For you see, I’d prayed about having more gentleness in my heart and life throughout 2017. “Give me a gentle heart and soul that generates kind thoughts, words, and actions,” I’d prayed.

For I had lost the gentleness that had once been a part of me. In reading my high school autograph books the one phrase that repeatedly stood out was, “Stay as sweet as you are now.” So where had that sweet gentleness gone to?

I’ve always had a strong sense of right, wrong, and justice. Of wanting to make a difference and right all the world’s wrongs. Even founding and leading a Happy Helper’s Club in my childhood neighborhood, and working zealously at it.

But combined with my perfectionist tendencies, this black and white mentality made me think it was my duty to set myself and others straight through tough sternness.

Yet when I think of Christ the image of strong gentle love comes through. Yes, he was tough and stern sometimes, like in clearing the temple of money changers. But he was always a man with gentleness, strength, and wisdom all rolled into one. And I realized that was what I wanted and needed to reclaim.

So I prayed for gentleness all throughout 2017.

And one of the things I prayed was, “Lord, make me a woman of few words that really count.” The less we speak, the less possibility there is of uttering harsh and impatient words. Few, but kind and thoughtful words I’d learned, carry weight and substance.

I could have named GENTLENESS as my word of the year for 2017, as many bloggers have been doing for years. But I’m not one to quickly jump on band wagons. So though it could have been my “word of the year” it was really just a prayer born of strong need.

For many years, I had lamented my lack of the Spirit’s fruit. I longed for it, but never really worked at having it. I had failed to take Peter’s words to heart.

“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue…” (1 Peter 1:5).

But by concentrating on gentleness, I started seeing more of it in my heart and life.

Reflecting on and praying over verses that speak of gentleness for that entire year changed me from the inside. I was allowing God to write his words on my heart. And working at diligently supplementing my faith with the fruit of the Spirit.

We have a whole new year ahead. Will we stay the same? Will we take those blank pages and never let the Holy Spirit write on them?

Or will we decide to work with him at writing just a bit of newness of life on them each day?

[Image by congerdesign via Pixabay.com; CC0]

8 thoughts on “Gentleness and the Blessing Tree

  1. I really enjoy this 🙂 Christ was and is gentle. We only see HIm get stern when it comes to other believers and their approach to sinners and others. That definitely speaks something.

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  2. This is great, Shiela. I’m glad that you didn’t jump on the bandwagon so quickly and let God impress upon your heart what your “word of the year” is.

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  3. Thanks Joshua. But then, that’s really what following him is all about, isn’t it? Listening to his voice, and then stepping in his footsteps. I just want to become like him, and if having a yearly word will help in that – then I’m all for it! If not, then I’ll bypass! God bless.

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  4. I LOVE the idea of a blessing tree! I hope I remember that for next Christmas.

    As I read this post it was like reading about myself. I also have a very strong sense of right and wrong and justice. I am also a perfectionist who often feels the need to set others straight. And I started the “Big Heart for a Better Wrold” club when I was in public school!

    However, since I am also a passive, agressive person, I don’t usually say unkind words – but I sure think them! And I stew about things that upset me. Sometimes that “stew” boils over and splatters those in my vicinity. So I also pray for wisdom for when and what to speak. I find it challenging to know the best way to “speak the truth in love”.

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  5. I guess we’re kindred spirits Shari! I had never seen a blessing tree before and loved it! It would also make a great Thanksgiving Day tree. We can never give thanks enough! Too bad we didn’t go to the same school. We could have joined each other’s clubs, lol! It is challenging to know how and when to speak the truth in love. And when not to speak at all. It helps me a lot to realize that I really don’t have to set the whole world straight. Especially since I’ve got to get my own life in line first!!

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  6. Gentleness is one of the most overlooked of all the Fruit of the Spirit. How needed it is in our world today. Thanks for the reminder. I see this world, from top to bottom, getting to be a harsher and harsher place to live. I pray I never become that way, but can talk to people and treat people always with gentleness. BE BLESSED

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  7. Yes it is Pete. I can’t even remember ever hearing a sermon on it. That’s pretty sad, actually. Because we live surrounded by too many angry selfish people. I’m grateful the Lord helps us change! And I’m sure those around me are too! 🙂

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