“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5, New King James Version)
Gentleness. It’s listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as one of the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, but I confess it’s not one I’ve thought much about until recently. When I take note of recent events, I find a society filled with harshness rather than gentleness. I hear strident voices, rudeness, disrespect, and criticism. It seems we applaud those who are “tough,” “aren’t afraid to speak up,” and “tell it like it is” even if it hurts another. Gentleness is viewed as weakness and is therefore not a desirable trait. Some would even question its relevance today.
Someone once described gentleness as a strong hand with a gentle touch. It is strength under control. The greatest example I can offer is Jesus Christ. He ministered with a gentle touch.
- He was gentle with children.
- He was gentle with sinners.
- He was gentle with the sick.
- He was gentle with the untouchables.
- He was gentle with the wayward.
- He was gentle with the troubled and hurting.
As Jesus interacted with those around Him, He responded with tenderness and kindness, even to those society would deem worthless. What if we did the same. Could we change our world for the better? When we read Matthew 11:29, we find Jesus wants us to learn gentleness and humility from Him. If we do, we will find rest, not turmoil, in our souls.
“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” (Matthew 11:29, NKJV).
What does gentleness look like in everyday life? The Word of God shows us how this characteristic of a Spirit-filled life will affect our response to others, even in difficult situations.
- Gentleness is not quarrelsome but shows humility and patience. (Proverbs 15:1; Ephesians 4:2)
- Gentleness is respectful of the other person, even if we differ in our views. (I Peter 3:15)
- Gentleness allows us to restore a fallen brother with compassion rather than criticism. (Galatians 6:1)
- Gentleness speaks truth in a way so that others can receive it. (II Timothy 2:24-25)
To sum up gentleness in just a few words, I like what Titus 3:2 says:
“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (ESV).
If we show perfect courtesy toward everyone, we will be responding to with gentleness. We will offer the world an antidote to its harshness and self-absorption. This is how the Lord would respond if He were walking the streets of our cities today. Instead, He has sent us into the world to show them a better way. Live life with a spirit of gentleness and you will change your world—one person at a time.
Lord, help me to learn the gentleness that You displayed throughout Your ministry on earth. Take away all pride, criticism, self-righteousness, harshness, and anger. Let me face each day with love, tenderness, mercy, and gentleness toward others, for this is how You desire me to live.
(Take time this week to study additional scriptures on gentleness: I Thessalonians 2:7, James 3:17, Colossians 3:12-14, I Timothy 6:11, Galatians 5:22, I Peter 3:4.)