July 29, 2019
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When our grandson was 18 months old, I called him a member of the Lewis and Clark Junior Cadets. In other words, he loved to explore! He moved faster than you can blink. He was into everything and, of course, he had one basic maneuver - grab! Now, that's a little guy's way of exploring something new. The problem is some things are fragile - a concept, of course, beyond the comprehension of a toddler. But Mom did a great job of protecting what was breakable while not discouraging that explorer spirit. She taught him one word - "gentle." So when she saw the junior explorer closing in on something fragile, she simply said that important word, "Gentle. Gentle." And suddenly he slowed down and he touched his target carefully and softly. Say it with me now, "gentle." That's right.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Voice That Says 'Gentle.'"
Our grandson didn't really want to hurt anything. He didn't realize how damaging his rough treatment can be. Of course, we don't either. We don't realize how much damage we're doing with our rough treatment of other people. We need a voice giving us that quiet reminder, "Gentle. Treat him gentle. Treat her gentle."
You can hear that voice in our word for today from the Word of God. It's in Ephesians 4:29-32. Measure your treatment of your family by these verses - your treatment of your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, and the people you encounter in your daily rounds. See if it fits. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up...And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God..." Woah! Now, how do you grieve the Holy Spirit? How do you make God cry? Apparently, it's by verbally tearing down someone that He's trying to build.
God tells us to have zero tolerance for the kind of talk that damages people. He says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander...Be kind and compassionate to one another..." Look, many times we have no idea of how much damage our careless words are doing - the angry words, the critical words, the harsh words, those sarcastic words, those backstabbing words. But God knows how deep the wounds of your words are going, and that's why He grieves over them.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that "the tongue has the power of life and death" and in Proverbs 12:18 it says, "reckless words pierce like a sword." I wonder how many times, even in recent weeks, words of yours or mine have sliced right through someone. We've probably forgotten what we said and how we said it. They may never forget it.
But down inside your soul there's that voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, who like our daughter with our grandson, knows how damaging our words can be. And the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper, "Gentle. Please be gentle with him. Be gentle with her." That's why the Bible says, "The fruit of the Spirit is...gentleness" (Galatians 5:23).
Maybe it's time to apologize to the Lord for the times you've ignored that voice, or maybe you've just drowned it out with your own. Maybe it's time to apologize to someone you've wounded with your harshness. And maybe it's time to say, "You know, Lord, I've done enough damage. I'm really sorry. Please teach me to treat people like You did when You were here. I want to learn how to be - gentle."