The dictionary defines gentleness as kindly; amiable; not severe, rough, or violent; mild. Gentleness, in the Greek (prautes), is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith. The New Spirit Filled Life Bible says of gentleness that it is a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has passions under control.
The word is also translated ‘meekness,’ not as an indication of weakness, but of power under control. Too often we are inclined to mistake “meek” for “weak.” The person who possesses this quality pardons offences, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well. It describes a manner, an attitude, a person’s character, and a way of responding. Gentleness displays a calm disposition, particularly under fire—which actually requires a great deal of strength.
Ephesians 4:2—…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” In the earlier context (Matthew 11:20), “He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.” This makes clear that gentleness is not weakness, but rather that it describes the way the Lord conducted Himself. Jesus had rebuked the people, but still showed compassion for them.
We can trust that the hand of our Lord will be gentle as He cares for our welfare. The gentleness, tameness, meekness with which Jesus treated everyone stands in stark contrast to the sudden calamity that befalls sinners at the hands of Satan. The calling of gentleness demands a certain character within us: Ephesians 4:1-3—I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. God charges us to be gentle with others in sincere love, working hard at maintaining the bond of peace, which is His word.
Colossians 3:12, 13—Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Once again, Christ has shown us kindness, gentleness, and grace. We must do the same to others.
Gentleness governs our dealings with brethren caught in sin. Galatians 6:1—Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. The temptation to attack must be avoided, and instead the spirit of gentleness requires that we address the issue at hand, not keeping a count of wrongs. By no means does Scripture advocate that we overlook sin in an individual’s life, but there is a gentle way to approach it. Godly wisdom demands gentleness.
II Timothy 2:24, 25—And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.
Gentleness also governs our dealings with those outside of Christ. Titus 3:1, 2—Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. You have an influence on those around you, whether you want to or not. What people should see in your Christian walk is gentleness, self-control, and humility. Your calm demeanor and desire for peace will make you different from the world and will let the world see Jesus in you.
1 Peter 3:15—But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear
Proverbs 15:1—A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger
Gentleness puts the needs of others ahead of our own. It is the characteristic that will show calmness, personal care, tenderness, and the love of Christ in helping our fellow man. Gentleness should be more than just a personality trait. It should be who we are from the work of the Sprit within us. Gentleness also does not allow us room to heap praise on ourselves. It leaves no room for pride.
When our motives are to make names for ourselves, we miss the boat on what is best for us. This mindset causes us to bully others. We then end up becoming like the builders of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Their downfall was not the tower itself, but the pride and arrogance with which they built it. They sought significance by their achievements alone, ignoring God’s love, care, plan, and providence. Whoa to us who take our eyes off Christ.
Gentleness allows us to be tender. Just think how vast and powerful God is, Who is bigger than the universe, Who transcends space and time beyond our comprehension. Yet, He treats us with the utmost of tenderness and care. Knowing gentleness is also trusting that God will take care of justice (rather than us doing it ourselves), so we need to think correctly about whom God is and who we are in Him. This understanding of His sovereignty will move us from the hustle and bustle of life to take time and cultivate relationships, because we are at peace with God.
Gentleness allows for caring and nurturing of others. It helps us stay calm and not escalate problems or “push peoples’ buttons”; it allows us to build others up and help them to grow. It places others first; it is selfless. The most important thing we can do for others is offer our friendship and a listening ear.
We can look to Jesus Who models ultimate gentleness and care. He does not have to be gentle, yet He takes to time to nurture others even when they make mistakes and fail. When we fall, He helps us up and puts us back together.
Gentleness must continue to function in a society that does not see its importance or care for perceived limitations; society thinks gentleness equals weakness. Society could not be more erroneous in its thinking. We must strive for gentleness in all dealings, thus proving to the world that we are the strongest when we are the most gentle. Remember, Kingdom dynamics function “backward” from what is “logical.”
- How do I exhibit gentleness in my daily life?
- What can I do to develop a more prevalent attitude of gentleness?
- What blocks gentleness from working and being exhibited in me?
- How might I make gentleness function better, stronger, and more quickly, even in times of uncertainly and stress?
Challenge: Strive to be gentle in each situation and all dealings of life this week, no matter how difficult others may be to live with, work with, or attend school with.