Strength in Gentleness
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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.—Galatians 5:22–231
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.—James 3:17
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?—Micah 6:8
But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.—2 Corinthians 8:7
Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.—1 Timothy 6:11
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. —Colossians 3:12–15
If any Christian, even the Christliest, would pray for a new charm, an added grace of character, it may well be for gentleness. This is the crown of all loveliness, the Christliest of all Christly qualities.
The Bible gives us many a glimpse of gentleness as an attribute of God. We think of the Law of Moses as a great collection of dry statutes, referring to ceremonial observances, to forms of worship, and to matters of duty. This is one of the last places where we would look for anything tender. Yet he who goes carefully over the chapters which contain these laws comes upon many a bit of gentleness, like a sweet flower on a cold mountain crag.
We think of Sinai as the seat of law’s sternness. We hear the voice of thundering, and we see the flashing of lightning. Clouds and darkness and all terribleness surround the mountain. The people are kept far away because of the awful holiness of the place. No one thinks of hearing anything gentle at Sinai. Yet scarcely even in the New Testament is there a more wonderful unveiling of the love of the divine heart than we find among the words spoken on that smoking mountain. “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”
There is another revealing of divine gentleness in the story of Elijah at Horeb. A great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks—but the Lord was not in the wind. After the storm there was an earthquake, with its frightful accompaniments—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire swept by—but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was heard a soft whisper breathing in the air—a still, small voice, a sound of gentle stillness. And that was God. God is gentle. With all power, power that has made all the universe and holds all things in being, there is no mother in all the world so gentle as God is.
All human hearts hunger for tenderness. We are made for love—not only to love, but to be loved. Harshness pains us. Ungentleness touches our sensitive spirits as frost touches the flowers. It stunts the growth of all lovely things. Gentleness is like a genial summer to our life. Beneath its warm, nourishing influence beautiful things in us grow.
There are many people who have special need for tenderness. We cannot know what secret burdens many of those about us are carrying, what hidden griefs burn like fires in the hearts of those with whom we mingle in our common life. Not all grief wears the outward garb of mourning; sunny faces ofttimes veil heavy hearts. Many people who make no audible appeal for sympathy yet crave tenderness—they certainly need it, though they ask it not—as they bow beneath their burden. There is no weakness in such a yearning. We remember how our Master himself longed for expressions of love when He was passing through His deepest experiences of suffering, and how bitterly He was disappointed when His friends failed Him.
We can never do amiss in showing gentleness. There is no day when it will be untimely; there is no place where it will not find welcome. It will harm no one, and it may save someone from despair.—J. R. Miller2
The dictionary has some good definitions [for gentleness]. It says that gentleness is having a mild and kind nature or manner. It’s also having a gracious and honorable manner. It’s kindness, consideration, and a spirit of fairness and compassion. Boy, that sure sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?—Someone with a kind, gracious, honorable manner, who shows consideration and a spirit of fairness and compassion. That’s really something to strive for, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to have that said about you?
It’s certainly like Jesus, and if we’re close to Him and if we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, if we really go for being filled with Him and possessed by Him, then this fruit of gentleness will be there in our lives, and people will feel it and will appreciate it.—Peter Amsterdam3
Gentleness is not apathy but is an aggressive expression of how we view people. We see people as so valuable that we deal with them in gentleness, fearing the slightest damage to one for whom Christ died. To be apathetic is to turn people over to mean and destructive elements; to truly love people is cause for us to be aggressively gentle.—Gayle D. Erwin4
Both gentleness and meekness are born of power, not weakness. There is a pseudo-gentleness that is effeminate, and there is a pseudo-meekness that is cowardly. But a Christian is to be gentle and meek because those are Godlike virtues. … We should never be afraid, therefore, that the gentleness of the Spirit means weakness of character. It takes strength, God's strength, to be truly gentle.—Jerry Bridges
When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.—Francis de Sales
The gentle mind by gentle deeds is known. For a man by nothing is so well betrayed, as by his manners.—Edmund Spenser
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.—1 Corinthians 13:4–5
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.—John 13:34–35
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
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.—Isaiah 40:11
You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.—Psalm 18:35
Published on Anchor September 2013. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by Daniel Sozzi.
1 All scriptures in this post are from the English Standard version (ESV).
2 A Gentle Heart (Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1896).
3 Originally published February 2009.
4 Spirit Style (Yahshua Publishing, 1994).
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