S212P8 – Bad fruit: unnecessary roughness

Gal. 5:19-23

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

When I was a child, I remember hearing about this relatively new method of discipline called tough love.  While I cannot say that I understood the theory completely, I certainly understood that this style of discipline would be difficult for the recipient but was meant for one’s good.  A classic example of this approach can be seen in an intervention setting when an enabler pledges to remove all support if the addict does not agree to treatment.  It seems like a rather harsh approach, like kicking someone who is already down, but no other option exists.  This is pain with a purpose, but this theory can be used wrongly to forego gentle love for a hardness we are not meant to show others.

The fruits of the Spirit are intertwined, and I think that is evident by now.  The gentleness of God which can be produced in us will surface through patience and kindness.  It does not stand alone but informs or supports much of the other good fruit.  Likewise, the bad fruit of a rough or harsh spirit also informs other bad behavior.  It is a root for many different sins, and it has at its own root pleasure or ambivalence at the pain of others.  Where the theory of tough love celebrates the result of the approach despite the pain, those with a harsh spirit might see the pain as the desired result.  Their words and actions either intentionally cause pain or intentionally disregard that possibility.  This is a lack of care and compassion.

When I think of the gentleness that we are to portray, I think of the gentleness God uses as He disciplines us and changes us.  His gentleness withholds painful discipline unless it is necessary.  When it comes, it is motivated by love for the goal of a beneficial result.  His gentleness appears in his discipline as it is rooted in care and compassion even if painful.  Those with an unnecessarily rough spirit use that roughness for a result whose pain serves no good purpose.  Their lack of gentleness is exposed by a lack of care and consideration for others.  Father, teach us to be well-tempered in our treatment of others, dealing gently with them as You deal with us.