Yesterday, I heard the words “Be Gentle” a hundred times as older siblings held a newborn brother.
It was a beautiful reminder: When we abide in Jesus, we can treat others with a spirit of gentleness.
What is Gentleness?
Jesus connects gentleness to humility. In Matthew 11:29, He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”
Consider the example Jesus Christ set while on earth in that passage. Although He could call on divine power, He was approachable, sympathetic, kind, and loving. He used His power for healing rather than hurting. Remember His words: “Learn from Me.”
True gentleness grows from humility
Paul urges gentleness in 2 Corinthians 10:1: “Now, I Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.”
Gentleness refers mostly to actions, whereas meekness refers to attitude — one’s whole state of mind as well as actions. Meekness produces gentleness.
We should be meek (yielded, teachable, and responsive) in our relationship with God first of all. Secondly, we should be meek (humble, gentle, and respectful) in our relationships with people.
To become this kind of person, we must allow God to shape us.
How do we grow in gentleness and meekness?
Gentleness and meekness are seen as weaknesses in today’s culture.
If you and I are going to walk these attributes out, we must go against the grain of our current culture. Gentleness is not being a pushover. It’s having a strong spirit with a soft touch.
The Apostle Paul tells us that “in the last days people will be lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:1). He goes on to list what that looks like: “Unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, and brutal.” How many of you have seen this in our world?
To grow in a greater level of awareness of this Fruit of the Spirit, ask yourself these questions:
- Where do I see the fruit of pride in my life? We can diagnose “pride” in a lack of love for others.
- Am I approachable? People closest to you may not ask for help because of your harsh response. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- Where do I still have unforgiveness? Unforgiveness puts walls around our heart like a fortified city. Nothing gets in, and nothing gets out. Perhaps mistrust has shielded you from stepping out and being a blessing despite the hurts of the past.