An attitude of gentleness is a way of life that focuses on being kind and caring towards others because of God’s great kindness and love towards us. We learn to be focused on how we are treating others in spite of how they are treating us. This helps us overcome harshness, unkindness and critical spirits that so easily besets us.
Gentleness Is A Fruit To Be Produced, A Command To Be Obeyed
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being meek, kind, gentle, friendly, generous, considerate, mild-tempered, compassionate and merciful. Gentleness and meekness are often paired together and/or used interchangeably. Meekness is humble and gentle submission. It also represents the inward attitude that learns to properly (by Jesus’ example) accept unfair, unkind or unreasonable treatment from others without becoming bitter and angry. Gentleness then is the outworking of this meekness and includes extending mercy or leniency towards those who are undeserving. Therefore, an “attitude of gentleness” means to have a determined and authentic way of thinking and feeling about God that expresses His kindness and love—thus showing forth and being rooted in the fact that we are the elect of God, holy and beloved.
2 Corinthians 10:1; Colossians 3:12
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a fruit to be produced—the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes “gentleness” and against such there is no law. Naturally, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us and treat us in a good manner. But, spiritually, this gentleness means that no matter how others treat us, we choose to treat others with gentleness—tenderness, warmheartedness kindness, compassion. Thus, the Holy Spirit produces in us a gentleness of a new quality—one that strives to have an attitude of kindness and love for all men without reservation.
- Gentleness (and meekness) is a command to be obeyed—we are commanded to be gentle and to show all meekness to all people. This literally means that we are given an order to be kind and tender to everyone. As servants of Jesus (church leaders or anyone who is preaching the gospel) we should not be characterized by quarreling (striving) but by being gentle and kind to everyone. Even if others want to fight orally, we don’t participate but gently deal with them hoping that God will save them. We are to flee all kinds of evil, but gentleness (and meekness) is to be pursued. As the elect of God, we are to “put on” gentleness (and meekness) which helps us to forbear and forgive one another even as Christ forgave us.
2 Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11; Colossians 3:12-13; (1 Timothy 3:3, patient/lenient)
To Be Focused On How You Are Treating Others, Not Vice Verse
- To not be focused on how others are treating you—Paul, Timothy and Silas suffered, were shamefully entreated (treated) and spoke the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict, but they didn’t focus on how they were treated by others. From a worldly perspective, they had many reason to become bitter, unkind, and angry people. But they kept their attitude in check by making sure they were focused on their personal motives—to please God—and that they were being faithful to God who entrusted them with the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
- To be focused on how you are treating others—Paul, Timothy and Silas exemplified sincere “gentleness” towards the church at Thessalonica in spite of how others treated them. This gentleness has several characteristics: (1) Tenderness and affection—Paul says their gentleness towards them was “even as a nurse cherisheth her children”—meaning that a nursing mother tenderly and affectionally takes care of her own children. A baby is needy and seemingly ungrateful but the mother is patient and tender towards it. (2) Forgoing rights and privileges—as the apostles of Christ they could have made demands for a certain type of recognition (glory) or to be supported financially by the church, but they didn’t. (3) Pure motives—they weren’t being gentle so that they could trick them with flattering words or covetousness. God knows our motives and God is the true witness to the motivation behind why we treat people in the way we do. Are your motivations pure before God? (4) Genuine Care—they were affectionately desirous—meaning they strongly desired or longed for the Thessalonica believers—they had become very dear to them. This means that they genuinely cared about people. They were ready and willing to share the gospel with them, but also to share themselves (their own souls). They were willing and very glad to spend and be spent for them. They didn’t come to seek what was theirs but to seek “them”. (5) Holy, righteous and blameless behavior—gentleness isn’t weakness but it is firmness—like a godly father with his children who exhorts, comforts, and charges them to walk in a manner worthy of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:5-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14-15
To Overcome Harshness, Unkindness And A Critical Spirit
- Harshness, unkindness and critical spirits should not be characteristic of believers. This means that we might need to change the manner in which we communicate and act with others. Criticism is expressing disapproval because of faults or mistakes and serves to tear down and not build up. This is often rooted in the inward sins of pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy or jealousy. Sometimes it is intentional, others times it’s not, but as believers we are to be intentional how we treat others—with love. If another believer needs to be restored, it is to be done in the spirit of meekness (gentleness).
Ephesians 4:1-3; 15-16; Galatians 5:14-15; 6:1-5; (Wrong Judgement: Matthew 7:1-6; Right Judgement: John 7:24)
- Meekness (gentleness) of wisdom comes from above—we need to ask God to give us wisdom. This wisdom effects what kind of person we are and how we treat others. It is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason (easy to be intreated), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial (without partiality), and sincere (without hypocrisy). This leads to “peace making” and the fruit of righteousness. We need this wisdom from above to overcome our “earthly wisdom” which is characterized by bitter envying (jealousy) and strife (selfish ambition) in our hearts. This leads to confusion (disorder) and every evil work. This is earthly, sensual and devilish. As believers, this should not describe us, we don’t allow the wrong kind of thoughts to dwell in our hearts. We need God’s wisdom.
James 1:5; 3:13-18
- We are not to speak evil of anyone. We are to avoid quarreling (to be no brawlers). We are not to let corrupt communication or cursing come out of our mouths. We are to eliminate all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shouting), and evil speaking (slander), and all malice. We are to replace this with gentleness and showing all meekness. We are to start speaking things that bless, that are good, that edify and that ministers grace unto the hearers. We are to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us.
Titus 3:2; James 3:5-12; Ephesians 4:29-32
- Gentleness is a manner or quality of being what?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a fruit to be produced?
- What does it mean that gentleness is a command to be obeyed?
- What does it mean to be focused on how you are treating others?
- To have a gentle attitude we need to overcome what?