If you are like me, then cultivating a spirit of gentleness doesn’t come easily. Gentleness requires humility. In humility, we set aside our own egos, and seek the heart and mind of God. This is where the difficulty comes in, at least for me. Setting aside our ego doesn’t come naturally. It requires supernatural assistance from God above and the Spirit within. When we set aside our “selves”, we quickly realize the work God has called us to isn’t about us, but about God. For whatever work we do, it is not to please ourselves, but to please God.
When we set aside ego, what matters to God becomes more important than pursuing our own desires. From that, all other blessings flow. When we put God first, then we can love others.When we put God first, we are able to be obedient, faithful, kind, and practice self-control. When we put God first, we gain a peace that passes all understanding making it possible to be gentle so that we can love others as we love ourselves.
Maybe you’re having difficult loving others.Loving others demands gentleness. Without gentleness, we find it difficult to love ourselves, much less someone else. Loving others is a learnable skill. But it takes practice. It doesn’t always come easy. A quick look in the mirror reminds us that at times we can each prove difficult to love. But in His pursuit of us, God certainly thought we were worthy of love. So much so that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a perfect living sacrifice for us, so that by placing our faith and trust in Him, each of us could be redeemed and returned to a right-standing with the Lord.
According to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, compiled by M.H. Manser, gentleness is “An expression of compassion, seen in God’s dealings with the frail and weak, and expected of believers in their dealings with others.”
For a short time, near the end of his walk on Planet Earth, I had the privilege of knowing a man named Gordon, who exuded gentleness. This gentleness of spirit is something that he cultivated over a long period of time, through many years of prayer and time spent with God. Gordon would tell you it didn’t happen overnight. If you knew Gordon, you knew he loved the Lord immensely. That was evident when you stood in his presence because you felt the fruit of the spirit flowing from him.
Jesus himself modeled gentleness.
Matthew 11:29 (ESV)
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 40-42, we watch Jesus demonstrate gentleness towards a leper. Lepers were isolated and thought of as deplorable. Their neighbors, friends, and family thought they were surely being punished for some egregious sin. Yet, Jesus, doesn’t handle the leper that way at all. Rather than fear and disdain, Jesus responds with gentleness and shows compassion.
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. (Mark 1:40-42)
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
If we are to walk in the footsteps of Christ, then we must cultivate a spirit of gentleness in us. It is not something that comes naturally to us, because our ego tends to get in the way. However, it is attainable through the power of God by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. With supernatural assistance and our own persistence, we can grow in gentleness and have a tremendous impact on the world in which we live and on those with whom we share the world.
Strive to be gentle. Seek the Lord for His wisdom and understanding. Cultivate the ability to respond in gentleness in spite of all of life’s challenges. Set your own ego aside and let God overwhelm your mind and your heart.
Seek first to understand, and then to be understood. Recognize that the secret to cultivating a spirit of gentleness in ourselves comes from God. We must rely on His power to mold us and shape us. Apart from God, nothing is possible. With God, nothing is impossible.
Go in peace. Be gentle.
All Scripture used is from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. All emphasis is added.
Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.