What comes to mind when you hear the word gentle?
Mild, calm, moderate, peaceful — these are a few words associated with gentleness. I can tell you, my three young boys frequently act quite the opposite.
They are rambunctious, energetic, bold, and aggressive. Yes, aggressive. Generally speaking, boys are more prone to rougher play than girls. They are more likely to resolve disputes in a physical way.
Society tends to see the strong-willed, physically prone child as a negative. So much so it goes beyond encouraging positive coping skills, and suggests instead complete suppression of such feelings. Men should never be aggressive, bold, or stubborn. They should always respond not just gently, but preferably, passively.
I do not wish this for my boys. Not suppression and passiveness, but a true desire to actively obey God. The gentle we strive for in our home is straight from The Bible.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galations 5:22-23
We strive for young men focused on actions and thoughts in line with the Holy Spirit. A gentle demeanor connected to self-control. I pray for my boys to grow into men with a gentleness reflecting a true compassion and love for others.
Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth.Matthew 5:5
Believers are to be meek — long-suffering, humble and gentle. I pray my boys to truly understand no self is higher than the Lord. I pray for their growth in patience, and a desire to submit to God’s will.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.2 Timothy 1:7
Though this spirit is to be gentle, it is not cowardly submission. No fear or shame in the testimony of the Living God. I pray dearly my children love the Lord in such a way, they never shy from proclaiming His glory.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.James 4:1-3
I pray my boys hold this warning close. Understanding aggression rooted in selfish desire is truly dangerous. May aggression and hate only be felt for evil (Romans 12:9). Displaying gentleness when we feel anger — especially anger rooted in pride — is strength. I pray my children gather this strength from the Lord to be Christlike, even when flesh wars against it.
My boys are quite young, all under the age of seven. There is a long road ahead for this family. And while there are a lot of lessons in my house, there is even more prayer. Prayers for the strength to die to self, to deny my selfish desires each day. Prayers to cloak my heart in gentleness so I might first lead by example. Prayers for wisdom in discipline and instruction to foster a hunger to please God.
Lord, thank you for these boys. For their passion, their energy, their strong wills. Lord, guide my husband and me. May we raise these children to be young men with gentle, humble hearts. May they stand strong and firm in Your Word, and avoid the destruction of selfish desires. May our home love Your Will. Amen