Developing Spiritual Gentleness
We live in a very unique time as Christians. While the world seems to be in a constant state of moral decay, Christians are told to continue to hold the moral line. While the world is angry and bitter towards one another, as Christians we have been called out of the world. While the Democrats hate the Republicans and the Republicans hate the Democrats, and while Isis seems to hate everyone, still Christians are told to be gentle.
Yes, “ Macho Man! Be gentle. That’s right “Woman on Mission”! Be Gentle. The Bible is clear and consistent about this attribute. For instance notice Paul’s instructions to the Philippian Christians.
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (Philippians 4:4-5)
According to Paul, if we are to find Joy, we must practice what is said here.
Paul says, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” The word for Moderation is the Greek word (epieikēs) is defined by Strong’s as: seeming, suitable-equitable, fair, mild, gentle
This word is translated as “patience” in I Timothy 3:3, helping us to understand a little more about the meaning. We draw from this that patience goes hand in hand with gentleness.
In the book of Titus the word is translated as ‘gentle.’
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. (Titus 3:2)
Peter uses the same Greek word showing again that gentleness is involved.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. (1 Peter 2:18)
So we might properly rephrase this to say, “let our gentleness be known to all men.”
The phrase ‘be known to all” doesn’t imply that you walk around telling people how gentle you are. It means, that by your gentle nature, you will be known.
Franklin Camp says the word translated as moderation means: “to do that which is reasonable – with the ability to yield.”
This seems appropriate considering the inspired message of James using the exact same word.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)
The child of God who is developing Godly wisdom will learn to be gentle.
James further lists some more attributes that are associated with the gentle natured person. He is:
- Easy to be entreated – the person is not going to fly off the handle just because someone doesnt agree with them and voices their thoughts about the situation.
- Full of mercy and good fruits. Because he is gentle he finds opportunities to show mercy and to bear good fruits.
- Without partiality – that is, he doesnt favor one person over another, based only on his relationship...but is able to judge properly and impartially.
These are some of the ideas that this word “moderation” carries with it.
Notice the reason why:
For the Lord is at hand. The word ‘at hand’ means to be near.
The Lord is near to His children. The psalmist wrote:
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. (Psa 145:18)
What a glorious thought that The Lord is near to those who call upon him according to truth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psa 34:17-18)
Because the Lord is near to us and he is gentle with his children, our encouragement is, to be gentle with people the same way He is with us.
There are other verses that teach us some basic principles about being gentle towards people. For instance Paul writes in the book of Colossians:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12)
And in the following chapter he writes:
Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. (Colossians 4:5-6)
He says that we ought to let our speech always be seasoned with salt and always be filled with grace. If we could learn to put these two principles into our daily lives there is little doubt that we could change our corner of the world.
The proverbs writer gives further instructions about gentleness in the way we speak to one another as he says:
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Prov 15:1)
If we could learn to answer one another in kindness and with a soft word, instead of being a people ready to give a tongue lashing in a moment’s notice, we could win souls to Christ.
Please understand gentleness is not weakness. It takes great strength to treat someone gently when they have treated you harshly. And while gentleness is not necessarily meekness, they are often found in the same person. A person who is meek generally knows how to be gentle.
Gentleness leads us to talk kindly to one another. Perhaps you have heard the statement “you capture more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” The truth of the statement means that if you show sweetness and kindness towards people, generally speaking, they will be more open to what you have to say.
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.(Prov 16:24)
Pleasant words are sweet to the soul. They go down deep inside a person and cause them to feel better and couldn’t we all stand to feel a little better each day. Pleasant words are also health to the bones. That is, not only do they do the spirit of a person good, it helps to give the person strength.
A person who is encouraged by pleasant words is far more likely to stay strong. For instance, a person who struggles to go the gym, needs words of encouragement to help strengthen the inner man so that he can grow and strengthen the outer man.
Spiritually speaking when we use pleasant words spoken in gentleness they have the same effect. They continue to strengthen the other person.
Being gentle with people, showing them kindness and humility is one virtue that we all need to add to our lives. While we understand that there were and are times in our lives when we must show force and stand firm against error. This article is not discussing those situations.
This is intended to help us on a daily basis, while still standing firm in the faith, recognize the importance of showing gentleness to the people we come in contact with. People around us are hurting. People are sad, angry, worried and scared. I pray that God will help us learn to be gentle with people so that they can see Christ living in us and give glory to our Father in Heaven.