Gentleness. There is not a more poignant illustration of the discipline of being gentle than holding a newborn baby.
Do you remember what it feels like? First, you look adoringly at the beautiful child as she lays. Then you contemplate the best way to slide your hands underneath her, and you ever so gently lift her up. The heart-melting sound of coo’s and giggles, that only little babies can make, reward you for your efforts.
And then you carefully attend to her head and watch. At this point, you feel responsible. You feel a need to protect her from everything else. And you feel the desire to be gentle. This is the epitome of gentleness in its physical form.
The illustration is something I am well accustomed to these days. It’s incredible how having a six-week old baby makes you look at things differently.Especially around the Christmas season.
I’ve always been told that there was a strategic reason Jesus came to this world as a helpless babe. But I’m not sure I ever fully understood that reason until I held a child I so desperately loved.
I realize now that God intentionally started the story of Jesus on earth in such a gentle way. He wants us to always remember how we should treat our faith and others. To care for it with such diligence and gentleness, just like we imagine ourselves being in that stable, and lifting up the newborn baby from the manger.
The scriptures often encourage us to live lives of gentleness. Jesus proclaimed it in the Sermon on the Mount that “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he urges:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near… (Philippians 4:4-5)
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Paul requests gentleness of believers when the Lord is near. This is exactly the posture required of us in thinking about the coming of Christ.
More than just carefully handling something, gentleness is often accompanied with a commitment. At Food for the Hungry (FH), we are committed to walking with vulnerable children and their parents in a gentle manner. We are helping them overcome obstacles and gently supporting their efforts to thrive.
In Nicaragua, we treat each family with respect, and offer life-saving ideas for how they can meet their physical and spiritual needs in a healthy way. It requires a posture of gentleness.
And through our partnership with poor Nicaraguan communities, children are able to stay healthy and go to school.Parents are able to improve the quality of their crops and have access to markets, increasing their income. And communities are organized to work together to meet common goals such as clean water and sanitation.
You can teach your children to be a part of this work in helping the poor. In our 12 Days of Christmas ebook, we have a story told by a boy named Elias sharing his Christmas traditions in Nicaragua. It’s a gentle way to share cultures and how to make a difference in your family’s countdown until Christmas.
So as you prepare for Christmas, think about why Jesus arrived on earth in such a vulnerable way. Think about what God is trying to teach us about being gentle. And maybe consider responding with gentleness to some of today’s most vulnerable.