There is not a lot of gentleness in the world today. Gentleness in the Bible is often displayed by God. Call it a zero-sum game, or an “us against them” battle of wills, but there is little room for gentleness anymore. Even when the intentions are good, we can lose our perspective, or the very reason for our action.
Evangelical Christians are encouraged to share their story with friends and acquaintances. They have come to know Jesus as their personal savior and Lord, and part of that means telling others.
Excited and enthusiastic, they tell of their encounter with God, only sometimes the other person fails to understand, or is not interested in hearing, or completely disagrees. The frustration mounts. They wonder how their friend can’t see what they see and isn’t excited about the message. They may even get angry.
The Apostle Peter warns of this when he writes in 1 Peter 3:15:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
Being gentle is not being weak
Gentleness does not mean weakness. But, gentleness is related to kindness, another fruit of the Spirit, as it is based on strength given by the Holy Spirit and the love of God. Gentleness is related to patience, because we are encouraged to put others first. Gentleness requires strength. Jesus was gentle with most people.
Of course there are events in the Bible when Jesus was not at all gentle and even displayed righteous anger. When he saw the money changers at the Temple, he overturned the tables in rebuke of their turning God’s house into a business enterprise:
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)
Jesus often gentle
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well and told her about her life, he approached her with gentleness and love. He did not criticize her, accuse her, or chastise her in any way. It was a tender moment of complete forgiveness, understanding and compassion. She was so moved that she ran back to the village to tell the others.
Paul encourages people to:
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5).”
He also writes in Collisions 3:12, “ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
The Bible has many examples of gentleness
The Old Testament has many examples of gentleness, no one more poignant than Isaiah 53:7:
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
The imagery of the “Lamb of God,” used throughout the bible, is very much in keeping with gentleness. With great love and compassion, Jesus offered himself to pay for the sins of many.
Jesus was completely confident of the outcome, the need for His sacrifice, and so with gentleness, he carried the cross. The gentleness of Jesus was in a very real way, the ultimate example of strength and power.
Through that gentleness, Jesus accomplished what was completely impossible for anyone else.