A Soft Answer

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The fruit of the Spirit … is gentleness. –Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. –Proverbs 15:1 NIV

Let your gentleness be evident to all. –Philippians 4:5 NIV

“I hate you!” screamed my friend’s little boy as she held him, squirming and kicking, in her lap and struggled to put sneakers on his busy feet. It was time to go, and the toddler didn’t want the visit to end.

“Well,” she answered gently, tying his shoelaces and planting a soft kiss on his cheek, “I love you.”

I was amazed. If that were me, I would have turned him over my knee and spanked his little wriggling behind but good.

As a grandmother, I’m much gentler than I was as a mother, and in everyday life, I find I’m holding my tongue better than I used to—except when I’m behind the wheel of my vehicle or when I attended my son’s baseball games.

Every driver who doesn’t use turn signals, passes in a no passing zone, tailgates me, slows me down by driving below the speed limit, or neglects to turn on the headlights when it’s hard to see because of rain, snow, fog, or dusk, is, in my opinion, an idiot. While I don’t succumb to road rage, my mouth goes a mile a minute and the words are none too gentle. Which is why I don’t have one of those “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper stickers on my vehicle.

And at baseball games, it was hard to respond in a gentle manner when the umpire made an obviously bad call that went against the team I rooted for, especially in a close game where one call could change the momentum of the whole game. Before the last series, I promised God I’d behave and keep my mouth shut. But when the home plate umpire called one of our runners out at second after the base umpire had called him safe—and from my vantage point in the stands behind the plate, he was safe—I yelled that he was making it hard for me to keep my promise.

At that point my husband turned to me. I couldn’t tell if he was embarrassed or amused.

“Behave yourself,” he said, nodding to the seat in front of us, where our grandson Brent, who had just started Little League, booed. “You’re not setting a good example.”

So I kept my mouth shut and only groaned when the umpire called a homerun a foul ball. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and agreed with my husband that the foul pole needed to be higher.

“I hope this guy doesn’t umpire any games for the playoffs,” I couldn’t resist adding.

That was years ago, but I learned how important it was to stop and consider what the other parents thought when someone who claimed to be a Christian yelled at the umpire like I did. Bad calls are part of baseball, from Little League to the professional leagues. While it’s okay to disagree, it’s not okay to be disagreeable and unkind.

Being gentle means to treat others with kindness, consideration, and respect because, no matter who they are, they have value in God’s eyes. Jesus set the example when He embraced the children the disciples tried to shoo away and when He had dinner with despised tax collectors who, to the Jews, were little more than scumbags, but to Him were hungry souls needing love, mercy, and grace.

Can I do any less?

Dear God, grow Your gentleness in me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 4:1–3.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Kindness Is …

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Noah reads to Allie in a scene from Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook.” 


The fruit of the Spirit is … kindness. –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Be kind to one another. –Ephesians 4:32 NIV

“We must be active and earnest in kindness, not merely passive and inoffensive.” – Joy and Strength (p. 7)

In a scene in the movie The Notebook, Allie, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and Noah, whom she no longer remembers as her husband, are chatting in the extended care facility in which they now reside.

Noah recites a quote from a poem they once shared.

“That’s beautiful,” Allie says. “Did you write it?”

Noah smiles softly and answers, “No. Walt Whitman did.”

Allie looks puzzled for a few seconds then says thoughtfully, “Walt Whitman. I think I knew him.”

Noah smiles. “I think you did.”

Now, if that were me, I probably would have launched into a mini-literature lesson. The teacher in me—or the parent—or the perfectionist—just can’t squelch the urge to correct mistakes, to set the record straight.

But Noah doesn’t correct Allie. Setting the record straight isn’t important. Saving her from embarrassment and pain is. Throughout the movie, when Allie asks questions, Noah purposely gives evasive answers.

“On days like these, when her memory is gone, I am vague in my answers because I’ve hurt my wife unintentionally with careless slips of my tongue,” he explains, “and I’m determined not to let it happen again.”

I’ve done that—hurt other people unintentionally with words and deeds that I thought were helpful. It’s not kind, for example, to correct all the typos and errors I see in the church bulletin. Even if no one else sees me scribbling away.

It’s not kind to interrupt my husband’s story because he got a couple of details wrong.

It’s not kind to put my children down in front of others, remind them of past mistakes, make fun of their faults, or make them the butt of a joke.

Kindness is being sensitive to someone’s feelings. It’s helping another person to save face, couching the truth in cushions of love.

Kindness is finding something nice to say about your wife’s appearance when the dress she’s wearing does make her look fat.

Kindness is praising your husband’s attempts at cooking supper and ignoring the overdone meat, the grease splattered three feet in every direction from the stove, and the kitchen that now looks like a disaster area.

Kindness is telling your daughter the floor needed mopped anyway when she puts dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher instead of dishwasher detergent.

Kindness is not calling your son an idiot after he fills up his gas tank with diesel fuel instead of gasoline.

Kindness is baking cookies for that neighbor who’s meaner than a junkyard dog (Romans 15:7).

Kindness is saying something nice about someone who’s not saying nice things about you (Proverbs 19:11).

Kindness is not judging the snippy receptionist in the doctor’s office (Romans 14:13).

Kindness is encouraging that young mother struggling with busy toddlers in the grocery store (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Kindness is praying for your daughter’s boyfriend even though you think he’s not good enough for her.

You can argue that Noah’s kindness was born of love. True.

But as I thought about kindness, I realized that kindness and love are intertwined. One cannot be divorced from the other.

Perhaps that’s why the word “fruit” in “the fruit of the Spirit” is singular.

Dear God, show me ways to be kind to others today. Amen.

Read and reflect on the Book of Ruth.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.