Lenten Devotional from Ellen
March 14, 2023
Colossians 3:12-17 (CEB)
12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.
In Scripture the Greek word, praus/prautes, is translated most often as meek or gentle. It is a word that the Gospel of Matthew uses to describe Jesus (Matthew 11:29). And in Colossians, the Apostle Paul entreats the contentious Christians in Colossae to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle/meek and patient. This collection of adjectives is hard to find in the world these days. Gentleness is most often associated with weakness. But for Jesus and Paul, gentleness is rooted in LOVE. When we know and are sure that we are loved, it is easier to act out of that love when we deal with others. Gentleness requires a shift of perspective from a focus on “me”, to a focus on “you.” This shift is the task of a lifetime. But, I don’t know a single person who is mature in their Christian faith who has not made this shift from “how do I feel/think/believe about X” to “how do you feel/think/believe about X.”
To be meek or gentle does NOT mean that we have no opinions, or that we are so wishy washy that we will stand for nothing. To be meek or gentle is to be able to hold our own opinions, feelings, and needs in second place to God’s and to the needs of others that God has placed in our lives.
I encourage you to think back over your own life and identify people in your own experience and walk of faith who have embodied this virtue of gentleness (and the other words Paul associates with it). Who in your life has embodied gentleness with you? Who loved you enough to hold their own needs second? I’m not talking about the Christian counterfeit of becoming a resentful martyr by never being able to ask for what we need. Who has embodied Christ-like gentleness for you. If you are like me, it is likely these folks were strong and determined to act for our good, but they did not force their way or will on us. They were curious about how we thought and took time to be present with us. Today, name those gentle saints in your own prayers, and give God thanks for their presence in your heart and life. Then, ask God to grow that same gentle strength in you. Ask God to reveal to you where you are being dominating and controlling with someone who needs you to be gentle. Ask specifically to be given God’s Spirit the next time you come into contact with that person. This is not an easy prayer, but I do believe it is a faithful prayer. It reminds me of another piece of Paul’s advice to us: “Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:2)
O God of gentleness, patience, and love, bend down to us and hear our prayers. We live in a rough and tumble world where everyone is looking out for themselves. Reassure us of your love and presence and give us the courage to live out of that love just for today. Show us where we are rough, impatient, and hurtful with others. Forgive us and grow in us the spirit of gentleness, patience, and love. O Lord! Hear our prayer and answer us! Amen.