Gentleness is having the power but deliberately not using it. Gentleness is self-control - expressed in calm and a confidence in the presence of God. It is a trust that God is meaningful. Gentleness is a disposition in sync with the larger picture. Gentleness is a virtue backed up by what the Bible calls, I find, the power of the Holy Spirit. The activity, vitality, life-inducing, life-empowering action of Good. It is something that exists - not as dream, but as a reality. Anybody expressing gentleness has the power to refrain from retaliation and engages in peacebuilding. The prerogative of the Holy Spirit. "A gentle answer turns away wrath" says Proverbs 15:1.
Gentleness does not encourage others to do what they want. Gentleness means that the power is on the side of good. And that you know that. So whatever others choose to do - gentleness is what you choose to do. Because you can.
To love our neighbor as ourselves takes a million forms, gazillion forms actually. One simple one, often overlooked because it is so simple, became clear to me this week. To love our neighbor as ourselves means to search for good in our neighbor. Really search and see. Mary Baker Eddy writes that "blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good." (p. 518)
The realm to which I immediately could apply this enlarged dimension of love as search is the realm of work. We often work with others, we work in teams or schools or communities or churches together. We also encounter the work of others in the workplace, in schools and universities, in companies and agencies. We also encounter the work of others in our daily life which is shaped by people and contractors in the building world, our email providers, phone companies, electric companies. There are farmers who produce the food we eat, people who are selling us something we want to buy, providing services we need. In our neighborhood people live who work, every day. In my neighborhood I encounter daily vivid businesses, from restaurants to handmade soaps to photography. I live about a photographer's studio, down the street are many small shops and businesses, all local, all honest and good. All work, work, work.
So when it comes to a connection - I can enjoy to take a special interest in the others' work and place it above my own. And check off "Love your neighbor as yourself" immediately. Done! We must do this for peace and mutual understanding. That is how the kingdom of heaven - the dimension of Love - is built. And it is built locally.
Paul writes: "Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people's point of view." (Phil. 2:3, Philips)
There is never a reason to be harsh to anyone, even if our own need seems pressing or urgent. There is no excuse ever for putting our own needs ahead of the needs of others. I am learning this every day. We can see things from other people's point of view, and a great way to start is the honest interest in the other's work. Is there a team project going on? Can you start by looking at the others' contributions first before presenting your own? Is a business transaction under way? Or a school project you prepare with others? Or a normal walk down your street in which you notice something? Can you enlarge your world by shrinking your sense of yourself and let others' grow a little bit more - by really being interested in what they do and why they do it? Take a peek over the shoulder of another person and find out what he or she is doing as we speak. Be he/she your colleague or neighbor, an accountant, journalist, clerk, plumber, agent, architect, swimmer, farmer, practitioner, teacher, artist, cook or student. Just an honest interest. Pure and simple.
The warmth of Love, dear divine Love, is breezing around you as you do this. Because this is the way Love recognizes you - now you are a factor in Love's project of healing and peace for all mankind. You've entered the stage.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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