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May 24, 2021 18:00pm
Gentleness: Life or Death?
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There are three segments to our Legacy Lesson: 

1. Icebreaker 

2. Legacy Lesson–Bible point: Practice being gentle with our words 

3. Wrap-up: Apply the message to our own lives; work on memory verse 

I. Icebreaker: 

When I think of gentle, I think of kindergarten and first grade teachers. Everything about them preaches a sermon on being GENTLE. 

  • It’s in the way they speak to their students. 
  • It’s in the way they correct their students. 
  • It’s in the way they teach their students. 

I had complete confidence they were not just being taught, but being loved. To me, that is gentleness. 

“In like a lion, out like a lamb” is a saying about the month of March. Maybe you have felt a bit lion-ish at times in your life? Perhaps work brings it on? Maybe it’s the crazy schedules at home? Or sibling rivalry? (I am grinning because I have been there.) My goal is that we know how to be more gentle by the time this month is done. (This is the last week!) 

Our focus verse last week came from Proverbs 15:1

Last week, we talked about how a gentle response can soothe anger. I mean, it’s pretty hard to stay angry at a person who doesn’t get angry back at us, right? My advice was to “fight fire with water” when being confronted with flaring tempers. That sounds a bit odd, but if you think about it, a fire (angry people) wants more fire (more angry people). If we combat anger with our gentleness, we are like water to a raging fire. It calms it. It dulls it. It slowly burns out. 

Now, it’s not a perfect science, nor can it be executed perfectly all the time, but if we can keep that phrase in the forefront of our minds, great strides can be made in our reactions! 

I challenged you and your family to brainstorm strategies to deal with anger:

Now, I will tell you this: THE HOLY PAUSE WORKS! We have used this strategy in our family. Though no one likes it, giving the Holy Spirit a few seconds to help us respond is POWERFUL and effective! Whatever strategy you and your family have picked, practice it often! The more you practice it, the more you can make it into a habit. 

Discussion Question to get your people thinking about today’s topic: 

When you hear the word GENTLE, what does it make you think of? 

A few ideas that might get your people started would be any of these: 

•a baby •a nurse’s touch 

•a mama’s snuggle •a breeze 

•a grandma’s hug •petting a dog for the first time 

•a baby puppy/kitten/animal 

2. Transition over to Legacy Lesson: 

Feel free to modify for your sphere of influence. Add, revise, or delete sections that would help keep attention for 30 minutes or less. (For younger audiences, I would aim for 10-15 minutes!) 

As we wrap up our month on GENTLENESS, we are going to focus on our words. Not only can our actions show gentleness, but our words can show the utmost GENTLENESS. 

The Toothpaste Challenge 

To really show your people the power of this lesson, I want you to buy (or use) a tube of toothpaste. Now, you will not be able to use this toothpaste when we are done, so don’t use anything you are currently using! 

This illustration that you will use is not something I thought up. My mom shared an article with me about another mama using this approach with her daughter, and I thought it was perfect for this lesson about our words being gentle. (I used her idea of the toothpaste but the dialogue below is my own.) 

To your people: 

“I want you each to take a turn squeezing out this tube of toothpaste. Keep passing it around until it is completely squeezed out.” (If you have boys, they may love this part!) 

After they are done, tell them this: 

“Now, put it all back in the tube.” (At this point, you will hear them saying all sorts of things like “I can’t!”, “That’s impossible!” , “It’s too late!”. Wait for them to finish.) 

Next, tell them this: (You can paraphrase it or modify it however you want to, but do not miss the power of this next part. You will have their attention here.) 

“Take another second or two to remember this plate of toothpaste. Do not forget it for the rest of your life. This toothpaste represents the words you speak. Proverbs 18:21 says our words can bring death or life. Once you say them, there is no taking them back, no fixing them, or no redoing them. They are permanent. As you go about your day, I want you to realize how much weight they truly carry. Throughout your life, you will have the opportunity to curse, to gossip, to make fun of others, to speak badly of others, to hurt, to grumble, to argue, or to accuse. These all bring about a type of DEATH…it could be the death of a friendship, a relationship, or of a reputation. 

You have many opportunities to speak life into people by encouraging them, cheering them on, teaching them, inspiring them or motivating them. Your words could help them and heal them. Ultimately, your words can make others feel loved. These bring about LIFE in others, in yourself, and in your relationships. 

Yes, you will mess up at times and use your words carelessly, but always be quick to apologize. Be quick to listen to others, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. For when you are angry, you will use your words as weapons to hurt others. And they will be like this tube of toothpaste…permanent. I have fallen victim to this more times than I want to remember, but some of the most hate-filled things I have said, I still remember. Though I have made amends with those people, I am still ashamed of that girl who felt the need to be mean and bring about DEATH to others around me. You’ll never forget apologizing to a person for calling them a horrible name or saying something terrible about them, and seeing the tears roll down their cheeks. Words can feel like daggers to those we hurl them at and bring nothing but pain. 

Use your words very carefully—protect them at all costs! Take that Holy Pause, walk away from a tense situation, choose to be the bigger person by walking away. Make a decision RIGHT NOW to use your words in a life-giving manner. Be the person everyone else wants to be around because you make them feel good about themselves. Be the person who can see the good amid a world of bad. Be the person who inspires others. Be that person who brings a smile to anyone’s face. 

Shine your light of kindness and gentleness through your words. You will never regret using your words to speak LIFE into others.” 

Connecting this “toothpaste challenge” to Proverbs 18:21: 

I provided 3 different translations of Proverbs 18:21 (last page of the lesson). Cut them out and hand them out to your people. Have each person read their verse and try to figure out what it means. Why? Well, different translations of the same verse yield more meaning… and this verse has a lot of meaning!! *If you have younger kiddos, I would focus on one translation that would make the most sense to them. (Translation #2 might work best for our younger kiddos!) 

Translation #1: Let’s check out the first translation 

Explanation: 

Whatever words we speak, we will, figuratively speaking, eat. What does this mean? We will reap the consequences of our words. 

Talk good? Reap good. 

Talk bad? Reap bad. 

Translation #2: Read the second translation 

Explanation: 

If you could think of your words over the past week…would they be poison or fruit? 

Translation #3: Read the third translation 

We’ve already talked about how being a talker is not being super gentle. Listening without the intent to respond is the best way to be gentle. The last part says “those who love it will eat its fruit.” This means, those who love to gab will eat the fruit of the words they speak. If you speak encouraging, motivational, or kind words, you speak LIFE into others. If you gossip, berate, snob, or belittle, you speak DEATH into others. 

Point: If you love to talk, beware. Your tongue holds power, sisters. 

Connecting this verse to our lives: 

As Proverbs 18:21 said, our words can bring LIFE or DEATH. Let’s brainstorm situations that our words can bring DEATH. Come up with as many ways that people can use their words to harm, to hurt, or to cause problems. 

Possible situations: dissolve a friendship, cause a rift in a relationship, birth a divorce, end a career, start a war, or ruin a family. 

Now, have your people brainstorm situations in which our words bring LIFE to others. Come up with as many ways that people can use their words to be kind, to be encouraging, or to bless others. 

Possible situations: reconcile friends, make peace, strengthen families, sweeten marriages, revive churches, or deliver the Gospel. 

As believers, if treat our day-to-day situations with GENTLENESS, it will be the BEST sermon we ever preach….without ever saying God’s name. 

Tough? It can be for a lot of people, but here is a simple truth: our mouths speak what our heart is filled with (Matthew 15:18). 

If our heart is filled with anger, we will speak angrily. 

If our heart is filled with negativity, we will speak negatively. 

If our heart is filled with meanness, we will speak meanly. 

So, how do we fix our words? I have an idea: love. Loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength will cure any meanness in our hearts. 

How do you love the Lord more? I have another idea: time. Spending MORE time with Him will compel us to LOVE Him more. 

  • Reserve time for the Lord every day. (Morning is the best! Even if it’s for a few minutes…some time is better than NO time.) 
  • Read God’s love letter—the Bible. (In order to love someone, you have to get to know 
  • him/her. There’s no better way to know God than to read the pages of the Bible. Psst: The Gospels are a great place to begin!) 
  • Talk with Him all the time. Take all your concerns, worries, stresses, fears, and yes, even anger to Him. Express your feelings. But, just don’t talk—be quick to listen to Him. 
  • Praise Him. Philippians 4 says we are to “rejoice in the Lord” right before it says we are to ALWAYS be gentle (v. 4-5). If we make it a habit of thanking God and being glad in Him, that helps us to become more GENTLE. 

The more time you spend with God———>>>>the more you will love Him. The more you love Him———>>>>the more gentle your words become. 

It’s a beautiful cause-effect relationship!

3. Wrapping-Up: Applying to our lives

Because one of our best reflections of Jesus is through our gentle words, our memory verse will focus on the POWER of our words. 

Like I asked earlier, what kind of fruit will you be eating this week? 

If we pick LIFE, that begins with using gentle words. If that’s tough, we have a remedy: loving Jesus. If we want to love Jesus MORE, we need to spend MORE time with Him. 

I cannot tell you how that changes your HEART!!! It’s a beautiful by-product of making Him your best friend, your Savior, and your Father. You get changed from the inside-out! Because of this, we can be more GENTLE with our words. 

This week, hold your people to this question: Will they be people who will speak LIFE or DEATH into others? Whether they are talking to siblings, parents, family members, classmates, or teachers, you could say the simple phrase “Life or Death??”, and that ought to be enough to correct them to change their words! 

Like holding a newborn baby, we are to use the utmost care for our words. Society would scream abuse if we treated a baby harshly, but somehow, it’s different with our words. Our world can use their words in a life-draining manner…let’s be the ones who use words in a life- giving manner. 

He speaks in all sorts of ways—through little nudges in our heart, through other people, and through nature, but the best way to hear from God is through his Word. 

Copyright © 2021 by Amber Spencer @lionesslegacymama. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.