White sand on a deserted beach; the cool, gentle flow of a mountain spring; the soft touch of a fall breeze - what do all these things have in common?
You might immediately think of these being relaxing, beautiful, or even refreshing, but there is something more here. Yes the sand of the beach gently massages the tips of your toes as you sink your feet in deeper, the frigid temperature of the river instantly cools your body as you immerse your hands on a summer’s day, and the fresh aroma of the change of seasons tickles your nose as it gently passes. But then think of the power sand has to rip, shred, and exfoliate through even the most tenacious of substances. Or think again of the force behind a raging river, unable to be swayed, controlled, or halted. Or what about the effects of a mighty wind that can level an entire city in a day?
Sometimes what we label as “gentle” is really just strength under control.
Be honest with me for a minute, have you ever struggled with the idea of submission, humility, or laying yourself down for others? Perhaps you, like me, have found it almost repulsive to consider lending a hand to someone who has hurt you deeply and deserves nothing but a taste of their own medicine. As Christians, we are called to walk a life of meekness, carrying nothing but the cross on our shoulders, abandoning all pride, and living to serve others instead of ourselves. Many of us could agree that this is no modest task.
Meekness, or gentleness, is this lesson’s fruit of the spirit, and in order to teach our children how to walk the life of a meek servant, we need to clear up any misunderstandings about humility and submission in relation to the Gospel.
Many of us have probably witnessed unhealthy examples of a humble position at one point or another. Some of you may have had a parent in an abusive relationship who refused to stick up for themselves and get out of danger. Or maybe you’ve watched friends serve others to the point of exhaustion and become an overused doormat. Whatever the example may have been, let’s be clear. God’s word does not command us to put ourselves in harmful situations, to become lifeless beings who are robbed of joy, or to sit back and stay quiet, accepting any decision made that impact us. Isaiah 57:15 says, “...I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
When the Bible speaks of meekness or humility, it’s relating to the position of our heart in relation to the father. Humility only comes through submitting our pride and selfish ambitions at his feet, and allowing him to guide our motives, actions, and plans. Simply put, it’s taking on the mind of Christ. Philippians 2:3-11 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. …”
Our children need to know how to stay humble in a very prideful world that preaches that self-success and living for your own happiness is all that matters. Imagine the world change we’d see come to fruition if the next generation was hyper focused on sharing the burden of the lost, lonely, hungry, and forgotten. What if instead of chasing after fame, they were focused on chasing after the one who exalts the meek?
For this lesson, I wanted my children to walk away with a tangible picture of what pride and worldly power looks like, since gentleness and meekness are the opposite of that. So we played a game of “movie star”. I picked one child to dress fancy and play the part of the “star”, while the other family members surrounded them, asking for their autograph and handing her cookies. After a couple of minutes of this, I blindfolded the “star” and had them continue to play the part as they were waited on hand and foot, but this time we handed the “star” a cookie with salt in the middle. Of course, as soon as the child tasted it, there was a face of disgust and an eruption of laughter. Afterwards we chatted about how it felt to be the “star” versus the “fans”. We talked about the blindfold and how it represents pride, which blinds us from seeing the truth and what is best for us. I explained that if the “star” hadn’t been blinded by pride, she would have rejected the cookie instantly, and that if we walk a life of humility instead of pride, the Bible says we will have wisdom as well as being exalted by God. (Luke 14:11, Proverbs 11:2)
To go along with this lesson, we decided to memorize Matthew 5:5 which says, “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”
Print this Bible verse along with the whole Fruits of the Spirit Family Guide here!
Enjoy this family lesson on gentleness, and be sure to check out the next fruits of the spirit lesson on self-control here!