*Praying in the Spirit of Gentleness
Restore him gently
Galatians 6:1 NIV
If any good is done by what is spoken, it is God who does it. Pray that He would guard your heart, enlighten your mind, and direct your tongue to such words as He may please to bless. If one opposes the truth, yet he cannot be brought to the knowledge of it, but by gentleness. Still speak in a spirit of tender love, “which many waters cannot quench.” If love is not conquered, it conquers all things. Who can tell the force of love?
Love can bow down the stubborn neck,
The stone to flesh convert;
Soften, and melt, and pierce, and break
An adamantine heart.
If you do not have access to speak to the person, you may do it by a messenger, a common friend in whose prudence and uprightness you can thoroughly confide. To speak in your own person is far better; but this way is better than none. Only beware you do not feign lack of opportunity in order to shun the cross. If you can neither speak yourself nor find a confidential messenger, it only remains to write. There may be some circumstances which make this the most advisable way.
When the person has a warm, impetuous temper, the message may be so introduced and softened in writing as to make it far more tolerable. Many will read the very same words which they could not bear to hear. By adding your name, it is almost the same as speaking in person.
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this fifty-seventh lesson on prayer, Wesley shows us a way of communicating that, in most cases, will bring a good result. A reproof in love and gentleness, whether through our own lips, the lips of another on our behalf, or from the ink of our pen will have the desired effect if done well.
Proverbs is a book full of wisdom. One of the best chapters about our words and how they might be received by others is Proverbs 15. Here are some verses that speak to our speaking.
1A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.
4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.
5 A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who regards reproof is sensible.
7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge, But the hearts of fools are not so.
10Grievous punishment is for him who forsakes the way; He who hates reproof will die.
12A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, He will not go to the wise.
14The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly.
17Better is a dish of vegetables where love is Than a fattened ox served with hatred.
18A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
23A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!
28The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
31He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof Will dwell among the wise.
32He who neglects discipline despises himself, But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
Here are additional verses to consider:
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
1 Timothy 6:11-12
11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2 Timothy 2:24-25
24The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
1 Peter 3:14-16
14But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.