A couple weeks ago I was at my son and daughter-in-law’s house playing tug-of-war with their huge German Shepherd, Kash. He grips one end of his toy stuffed-animal, while I hold the other end, usually tugging side to side. Kash is way better at the game than me. If he wants to hold tight, there is very little chance of me pulling it away from him. In fact, it is much more likely that the toy will break. We have played this game since he was a little puppy, so much so that soon after I first walk in the door, he will scoop up a toy and bring it over to me, pushing it up against my leg. He is saying, “Tug of war, please!” The problem is that some of his toys are not very large. That means I don’t often have much toy to hold onto, and my hand is almost up against his mouth. Do you see where this is going?
As we are tugging back and forth, if Kash feels the toy slowly sliding from his locked jaw, he will readjust to get a better grip. His is usually a very sudden, very fast adjustment, in which he opens his mouth, and locks down on the toy. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that when he makes that quick adjusting chomp, he has a few times nipped my hand with his teeth. He’s not trying to bite me, of course, he’s just playing. But he has drawn blood a couple times, usually just small nicks. No big deal. Until two weeks ago.
At one point, after we had been pulling his toy back and forth, he chomped, and his very sharp tooth went deep into the base of my forefinger. I knew it was bad when I couldn’t get my hand out right away because my hand was stuck on his tooth. It didn’t take long to get free, and my hand started bleeding profusely. Thankfully, it was a clean bite and easy to treat. But before you think negatively of Kash, there is another side to this story.
From nearly the first day they got Kash, when he was just a puppy, our daughter-in-law has taught him a certain word. Actually, they have trained Kash to know many words like “sit,” “stay,” “crate,” and “drop.” But this other word struck me as unique. The word is “gentle.” For example, our daughter-in-law will hold a potato chip in her hand, and she will say to Kash, “Gentle…gentle…gentle.” He has learned to very slowly move his mouth toward the chip and ever so slightly grasp it with his teeth and receive it from her. It is impressive to watch a big, powerful creature demonstrate such controlled gentleness, especially when you know he badly wants to eat that chip, and he could take a very aggressive bite if he wanted.
How about you? Are you gentle? What does it mean to be gentle? Should we be gentle in every situation? Isn’t it possible that we can be too gentle, and thus weak, allowing ourselves to be trampled on? In our continuing series on the Fruit of the Spirit, we are learning to walk in step with the Spirit, which means growing the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We’ve learned about growing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and now this coming week we’ll study what it means to grow gentleness.
Join us on this coming week, as guest blogger Daymarr Jackson (Faith Church’s youth leader) will be teaching about gentleness, continuing our sermon series on the Fruit of the Spirit.