While growing up, it was one of the main attractions to come to any town.
Who doesn’t love a circus? Clowns weave smiles on people’s faces, and trapeze artists steal the breath of onlookers. Crowds hold their breath and tongues as lion tamers enter cages with beasts capable of tearing them to shreds. Laughter breaks out as dogs of all sizes leap through hoops or monkeys travel horses’ backs.
But the staple of any circus is the elephant. Powerful beasts that tower over their trainers but that gently obey every command. I’ve seen them shackled with a mere rope around one ankle as they await their time to perform. While performing, they clutch their trainers in their mouths, balance on one front or rear foot, or hoist the trainer onto their backs. Elephants are the epitome of gentleness—power under control. With one rampage, they could demolish the circus tent and everyone in it.
Of all the traits believers are instructed to display, gentleness is perhaps one of the most difficult. Paul echoes what Jesus says in the beatitudes, God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them (Matthew 5:5).
Gentleness entails submitting to God’s plan for me, my family, my church, and the world—but particularly me. God makes it possible for us to recognize His individual plan. His overarching plan involves allowing Him to develop us into His Son’s image. But it goes deeper. He has a personal plan for each of His followers. Through prayer, study of His Word, and earnest investigation, He’ll make it known to those who seek it.
Gentleness means having a teachable spirit. God doesn’t often teach me lessons the way I might enjoy learning them. My most important lessons have come through circumstances I’d rather not repeat. God tends to tutor by bringing situations into our lives where we have no other option but to trust and depend on Him. God teaches through circumstances that try our souls.
Gentleness also requires consideration of others. It’s easy for life to be about me; it’s more difficult to make it about others. Jesus’ entire ministry was about others, and ours should be as well.
What are you as gentle as? Jesus can teach you to be as gentle as He was.
Prayer: Father, help us be as gentle with others as You are with us.
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