Gentle on my Mind
Let’s review the nine fruits of the Spirit of God. We started with love, joy, peace and meekness, and devoted two columns to the art of long-suffering before moving on to gentleness, today’s topic. How many of us have now memorized the fruits in the order in which they are listed? I confess I got two of them out of order when writing and was excited to get to one I particularly liked and had to do some backtracking to get them back in perspective. Perhaps this will help: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
Which has been the easiest for you to identify with in our series? Do you feel you have a good handle on one or more, but not all of them? I like today’s — gentleness — and was eager to write this column. I like gentle people. I enjoy being around gentle souls. There are few things nicer than having a friend or two with whom you feel completely comfortable doing something or doing nothing. I have several beach buddies I can hang out with for hours, and that time together is just gentle — worry-free, fun and restful.
The meaning of gentleness as a standard definition in the English language is “the quality of being considerate or kindly in disposition, amiable and tender, mild and soft, refined and polite.” The opposite of “gentleness” is “harsh” or “severe.” Which kind of person would we prefer being around for most of the time we have here on earth?
We think of a mother with a newborn baby nestled at her breast and think, “Man, that’s a picture of gentleness.” We think of a fuzzy new puppy dog with puppy breath, soft fur and beautiful eyes, and we hope people, especially young ones, are gentle with this pet. When we think of folks who are ill and suffering, often with terminal illnesses or diseases, we hope caregivers are gentle with them.
All these are good illustrations of gentleness, but there are more. Biblical gentleness does not necessarily mean acting in a tender and soft way, or even controlling physical strength for the benefit of another. To be truly gentle is to have a humble heart and peaceful mind wholly submitted to God’s plan. If we are a gentle soul, we can calmly accept God’s judgment regarding a situation, even if that judgment results in personal hardship. It is humility toward God. Gentleness, especially in the New Testament, is closely related to wisdom and spiritual growth, and is to be cherished.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the famed Glen Campbell twice for articles I wrote in our Entertainment Guide. The first caught him on a golf course, and he called from the third hole. He asked if we could have our interview a little later. I said, “Of course,” because I was delighted to have the opportunity. He called me back at the appointed time and we had a fun-filled conversation. He gave me specific instructions, and I later met Glen and his daughter in Lake Charles and had the joy of eating dinner with them. During the course of our interview, he sang a bit of Galveston, Rhinestone Cowboy, and perhaps my favorite song that he does, Gentle on My Mind. I love the lyrics even today: “It’s knowing that your door is always open and your path is free to walk, and it’s knowing I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds, and the ink that has dried upon some line, that keeps you in the back roads, by the rivers of my memory, and for hours you’re just gentle on my mind.”