Gentleness is defined as a way to respond “
It’s one of those qualities that in the past I’ve continuously overlooked. In the last two years, though, I have realized that it is of the utmost importance to me in my life and in the lives of those I want to be close to.
This is partially due to my own sensitivity. I’m a deeply feeling person, and with that gift comes the burden of being easily hurt when those I am vulnerable with aren’t gentle with my fragile soul and undefended feelings.
Gentleness tells me that person is safe.
Contrary to some beliefs, gentleness is not weakness. It’s strength shown through restraint. To me, gentleness is a perfect combination of love and patience. It’s something that can only be offered intentionally and from a place of abundance. It’s the freedom to not need to force our way in life, says the Message Bible translation.
Roger White wrote that “The opposite of gentleness is harshness. Gentleness involves curbing one’s strength for the benefit of others. Yet the spiritual fruit of gentleness involves more than moderating physical force; it includes not overpowering others verbally, emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, or spiritually.”
It’s so much easier to be harsh, to say what you I to say or do what I want to do at the pace and timbre that works best for me at the time. And yet, we are called to live differently, I believe. In the book of James, it says, “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.”
I so deeply want to be a gentle person. And, the people I most want to learn from and emulate are gentle people, especially with their words. They teach me to how have self-control, patience, and to practice wisdom by listening and yielding attention to others.
We chatted about the idea of gentleness in a group last week, and it was interesting to hear how many people were uncomfortable with the idea of gentleness. Some thought it was unfamiliar, and that made it scary. Others didn’t see its value because gentleness doesn’t equal results the way discipline does. While there are balances, both/ands, to so much in life, the gentleness that comes out of us when we spend time with God is unmistakable. And that’s what we are going for.
“There’s nothing better than being wise, knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners.” (Ecclesiastes 8:1, MSG)
I want that wisdom, that is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I want the light in my eyes that comes from hope in something so much bigger than myself, and the gentleness in my words and manners that comes from submitting myself to someone greater than I.
Our pastor preached about the power of words this past weekend, and challenged us to avoid unkind words to and about anyone, and does a phenomenal job expressing how sad it is that so few people would be willing to try that for a week, or even a day. Check out his message here:
May you be blessed today with gentleness in word and deed, and may you receive the gentle and inviting love of God in a way you never have before.