“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22, 23
Gentle Giant or Goliath?
In 2016, a movie came out called The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). It is about a giant and a little girl who, through a series of events, became friends. One night the little girl was standing at her window when she saw the giant, and he saw her. To prevent her from telling others about his existence, the giant kidnapped the girl and took her to giant land. He could have crushed her, something that Goliath would have done, after all he was many times her size. But he did not. He was a humble, kind, and GENTLE soul of a giant who collected dreams in jars.
We all know the story of Goliath. He was an angry, taunting, murderous villain of a giant who towered over his enemies. He was vengeful, arrogant, full of pride; he mocked and threatened. He was always ready for a battle. He could crush a human skull with his bare hands. He was the Philistine’s prized weapon.
In a conflict, who are you? A GENTLE giant or vengeful Goliath?
Paul tells us “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”(Romans 12:18). GENTLENESS is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23) that helps us live peaceably with others. Exercising gentleness is not weakness. The Greek word for gentle is prautés. It expresses the idea of “power with reserve.” Controlled power. Having the ability to crush and hurt, but choosing not to–choosing instead to tame the tongue (James 3), to bless instead of curse (Luke 6:8), to pray for our “enemies” (Luke 6:8).
These are difficult things for us to do. Both human nature and Satan whispering in our ear tell us to defend, take revenge, lash out, curse, get even. I know that at times the Goliath in me rears its ugly head. Being gentle is the last thing on my mind. I have crushed those I love with hurtful words when faced with conflict rather than seeking to understand where they are coming from; seeking to understand their position.
Paul tells us “let your gentleness be known to EVERYONE. (Phil. 4:5). Conflict transformation training helps us be “gentle” rather than crushing when faced with a conflict. We begin by:
- Breathing. 90 seconds of deep breathing helps reset our brains to thinking mode and not reacting mode.
- Praying. We ask for the Holy Spirit to enter into the conflict with us and help us deal with it in a gentle, respectful, and godly manner.
- Stepping back temporarily if we need to diffuse the situation.
- Re-engaging when calmed. Engaging in active listening. Hearing and reflecting on the other person’s point of view. Conflict often happens when someone feels they are not being heard.
- Offering an apology if it seems appropriate.
“Lord, help us to be humble and gentle like the BFG and steer us away from seeking to crush those who we come into conflict with. Help us to reflect your humility and gentleness. Help us to be the image bearers you intend us to be.”
—Submitted by Dona Diehl
(Dona is on the Lifesprings Executive Team and serves as Lifesprings’ Communications Director. She is a graphic designer, writer, and editor. She and her husband Howard served as missionaries in Grenoble, France for 10 years working with two English-speaking churches and ministering to international students. They currently live in the U.S. and attend and serve with a Cambodian church.)