I hate harshness. 

It hurts my feelings and brings out the worst in everybody. It’s an easy default in moments of frustration.

We can, however, wrap the harshness in lots of nice talk. I was a school teacher for sixteen years and I know how to write “comments” on the report card so that the not-so-pretty is nicely wrapped. The wrapped package is still hurtful though, because we’re dressing up ugly — it’s a little like putting lipstick on a pig. Ugly is still just plain ugly.  

"But you, man of God… pursue 

Righteousness

Godliness

Faith

Love 

Endurance

Gentleness"

— 1 Timothy 1:11

I read this during my quiet time this morning and asked Jesus, “Why are they in this order?”

He answered, “Because they move from your efforts to my results.”

Let’s make a few additions:

Righteousness leads to Godliness.
Godliness inspires Faith.
Faith brings about Love.
Love enables Endurance.
Endurance is the wellspring of Gentleness.

You can try to practice gentleness in the place of harshness, but after a while it runs out.

Love fuels gentleness.

Love can’t happen apart from the Spirit – the Holy Spirit we cannot see but hope for. He is the manifestation of who God is. Love is who He is, not what He does. He cannot not do it. HE cannot not love YOU. We come know Him when we spend time with Him as we meet Him in the pursuit of our heart. This is right.  

When we feel ourselves spilling harshness, it's easier to ask, “Am I meeting my Father as He pursues my heart?” 

Gentleness doesn’t hurt.

It doesn’t hurt us; it doesn’t hurt our children; it doesn’t hurt the people we work with, or our friends, or the cashier in the grocery store. But it does come from making righteous, disciplined decisions to spend time with the author of gentleness, our Father in heaven. 

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