You know, I really wanted to skip this one and not post the focus word (in this case phrase) that I chose for the month of May. As you can tell from the title I chose ‘Gentle and Quiet Spirit’ as the focus phrase.
To me this phrase almost makes me cringe because I do not see this as one of my qualities and when I chose it…well it came to mind so it must have been important for me to focus on…I seriously was doubting myself and didn’t want to even move forward in studying the phrase. (I’m sure there are many of you who are reading this and you’ve got this quality down as your strength and I would love to hear your thoughts. But read on…)
I didn’t know where to begin. I looked at the passage in 1 Peter 3:3-5 which says “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.” (NLT) And I wondered where do I go with this.
I did a quick internet search to see if there was any insight…not much…a lot of it dealt with how women are to be as wives, etc., since I’m single the research’s insight didn’t really pertain to me. Kind of ended up feeling really down….
But I didn’t give up. I found a Bible study by Elizabeth George Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit hoping this would give me some guidance. It helped me mainly to see that perhaps this phrase should be considered as a heart matter rather than a personality trait–one that I feel I fail miserably at.
True, the passage in 1 Peter deals with wives and their submission to their husband and God. As a single woman, I have to think about this passage focusing on my submission to God.
Elizabeth George quoting Dr. Charles Swindoll from his book Hope in Hurtful Times notes that as this passage focuses on submission, we are to be mindful that “submission is a mark of security…it is a voluntary unselfishness, a willing and cooperative spirit that seeks the highest good of her husband.” (Elizabeth George, Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit, 84). For me, I replace “of her husband” with “of God.” This totally stood out for me…”submission as a mark of security.” Such a difficult concept when thinking about submission–security doesn’t seem to follow as the logical idea…but if I am secure and confident in Christ, submission shouldn’t be so hard. So I can see that submitting myself to Christ provides that stable security we all need.
Elizabeth also quotes Dr. John MacArthur. He says “Here [in a gentle and quiet spirit] is beauty that never decays, as the outward body does. ‘Gentle’ is actually ‘meek or humble’ and ‘quiet’ describes the character of her action and reaction to her husband and life in general. Such is precious not only to her husband, but also to God.” (Ibid., 85) Interesting…
So, I think what this all about is that gentle and quiet spirit is a heart condition rather than a personality trait, which becomes an outward expression of the security in our heart…how we trust God and are confident in Him.
Psalm 108:1a, “My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises!” (NLT)
Our confidence and security in Christ leads us to a quiet spirit. When we aren’t worrying or stressed about things because we have given them to God, we are quiet aren’t we…both inwardly and outwardly. I think that this is what ‘gentle and quiet spirit’ means.
Gentle, as quoted by MacArthur, is actually ‘meek or humble’. Meek or humble is not a bad quality…Jesus was meek and humble. I was once told I was meek and I started feeling slightly offended until I realized that it’s not bad to be called meek…Jesus was meek…and he had the inner strength and confidence in who he was and what his purpose was. So to me, meek does not equal weak. Meek is strong.
Of course, I certainly haven’t mastered this phrase but realizing that by having confidence in the Lord, in knowing who I am in Him and in my purpose in Him, I, too, could have a gentle and quiet spirit that is so desired by the Lord. All it takes is to submit to Him, depend on Him, and obey Him.
So really, it’s all about the heart.
Next time: Rest