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.

Hangeth Thou in There


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

Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. … Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. –Hebrews 10:35–36 NLT

“Any time a man takes a stand, there will come a time when he’ll be tested to see how firmly his feet are planted.” –Author unknown

It all began with an email—one of those forwards I usually delete without opening. All my bad luck I can blame on deleting them, because most come with a curse or a guilt trip if I don’t forward it to seven or ten or a hundred friends within seven minutes.

But this one I opened and scanned the contents. Then my eyes stopped. “God, deliver the person reading this right now from debt and debt burdens.”

With a son in college and the escalating cost of living, it was getting harder and harder to keep our heads above water.

The following Sunday (Okay, I forwarded it to seven people, including the person who sent it to me—may the gods of cyberspace be appeased), I noticed in the church bulletin an announcement about a workshop for managing finances. “Get control of your finances. Get out of debt.” I read.

“We’re going,” I told my husband.

After the workshop, we resolved to commit ourselves to getting our finances under control. And we started praying together every morning at 5:30 a.m. before Dean left for work.

At first things seemed to be going smoothly. Two unexpected checks came in that month to help the income meet the outgo. We came up with numerous, creative ways to tighten our belts, streamline and simplify.

Then our son’s car—the one Dean worked on all summer and into which we’d poured hundreds of dollars—broke down. It was like a giant hand was pushing us back under water. For two weeks, Dean tinkered with it, trying to figure out what the problem was. Then he turned it over to an engine repair shop that still couldn’t find the problem after two weeks.

We asked ourselves, “What’s this going to cost?”

My freelance income had all but dried up.

The more I prayed, the more I heard God telling me, over and over and over: Be still. Wait. Be patient.

Waiting is not one of my strong points, and patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance.

But everywhere I turned there it was: on the screen at church as we sang worship songs, on a bowl on a friend’s coffee table, in my devotional readings—Be still. Wait. Be patient.

My journal pages filled up with Scripture that jumped out at me and insights that pierced my mind like a well-aimed arrow. One morning I wrote: “I want this time to be over quickly, learn the lesson, and move on to better things, out of the hole of debt. But God is doing a greater work in us.

“Our marriage relationship is becoming stronger. We’ve become closer as we discuss things and as we pray together every morning. We try to help each other out of the funk we get in when we focus on the mountain and not on the God who’s bigger than the mountain. We’re seeing more of what we have and less of what we don’t have, what we truly need and what we could do without. And God is strengthening the ‘do-without’ so we don’t miss what we’ve eliminated. He’s showing us where we’re weak and helping us to overcome those weaknesses.

“We’re on the road to a better, stronger, more satisfying marriage; a simple, more satisfying lifestyle, and a closer walk with God as we learn to depend on Him and trust Him more and more.

“This process takes time. I should not rush it. God knows what He’s doing.”

Dear God, help me to hang in there. Remind me that what You have in store for us will be worth the wait. Amen.

Read and reflect on James 1:2–4; 5:7–11.

PLEASE NOTE: This was written in 2008 and included in my latest devotional book, God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3. Our son has since been weaned from the wallet, and DH is retired.

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