The word “gentleness” brings to mind thoughts of a soft breeze, the soft babbling of a shallow stream as it flows across pebbles or falls into a small waterfall; calm ocean waves lapping on the sandy shore; the landing of a butterfly quietly on a blooming garden; or any scene that would promote a serene and calming environment.
Gentleness is also reflected in our actions toward others. We might see it reflected in the tender kiss or hug of a loved one or in a calm, soft voice of understanding from another when we are upset or discouraged. Human gentleness can also be seen in a happy and contented newborn baby or a small child snuggling close in a parent’s or grandparent’s lap as they listen intently to a story being read aloud to them.
A term that is rarely heard today is “gentleman” to describe a man seen as being considerate of others, who is humble, placing others before himself, and who exhibits such behavior as holding the door open for his wife or another woman, offering his chair to a woman who is standing, or some similar act. Although culturally our society may have moved away from these “gentlemanly” acts as men and women’s roles blur, each of us as Christians are still to show consideration, kindness, meekness, humility and a giving spirit, gentleness, when interacting with others.
God is described as gentle in 2 Samuel 22:36, Psalm 18:35, Isaiah 40:11. In the New Testament there are many references to the gentleness of Jesus Christ as seen in 2 Corinthians 10 and Matthew 11:29. As we grow in our spiritual lives, we are to follow the example of Christ and grow in gentleness – being kind to one another, speaking calmly and with consideration of the desires, feelings, and needs of others. As we seek to allow Jesus’ love to flow thru us to others, we must show a gentle spirit or the effectiveness of our Christian witness to others is undermined.
As Jesus was gentle with those He met, so we are to be gentle to people we encounter each day – whether they be family, friends, peers or total strangers.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NKJV