Be a gentle giant!
We were parked in a dry riverbed in the scorching heat of Namibia, on the lookout for desert lion or elephant to photograph, when my husband whispered: “Don’t make a sound and don’t move fast but look to your left!” As I turned my head I froze as a massive elephant was literally within arms reach, walking past my side of the car. It treaded so gently, we didn’t hear a thing!
“Intelligence is derived from two words – inter and legere – inter meaning ‘between’ and legere meaning ‘to choose’. An intelligent person, therefore, is a person who has the ability “to choose between”. He knows that good is better than evil, that confidence should supersede fear, that love is superior to hate, that gentleness is better than cruelty, forbearance than intolerance, compassion than arrogance, and that truth has more virtue than ignorance. “(J. Martin Klotsche: American professor of history and first chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, USA.)
The Puritan leader Jonathan Edwards called gentleness “the Christian spirit.” He said, “All who are truly godly and are real Disciples of Christ have a gentle spirit in them.”
God expects of His children to be gentle:
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
What exactly is gentleness?
It is probably easier to define gentleness by what is not: It is not weakness, it’s not a cop-out, and it’s not backing off with your tail between your legs. Being gentle has nothing to do with your personality. The most outgoing person can have a gentle, undisturbed, controlled and quiet spirit, and a quiet personality can have a turbulent spirit. Being gentle is a condition of the heart and not merely an action. Inherently gentleness is an expression of love and trust. It is a strong hand with a soft touch.
Gentleness can be defined as moderation, reasonableness, constrained power and channelled strength. Gentleness is power under control and is often displayed by what we say or rather, what we refrain from saying. The tongue can destroy in an instant and gentleness is knowing when to speak and when to remain silent – being at ease with both. There is no virtue in stating the obvious or saying what is true – when the result is division, hurt, pain or hate. Children of God use their words to heal, restore, encourage and yes, also to correct; but the motive is always to bring people closer to God, to show them more of His love, to display His grace and mercy.
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology describes Gentleness as: “Sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behaviour, founded on strength and prompted by love.”
How strong are you?
How do you respond when people don’t do what you expect or when things aren’t going the way you want? Do you rant and rave or do you remain calm with trust in God? Responding gently expresses trust in God, knowing that He is your provider and your life is safe in His hands. It is the ability to treat people with grace and kindness, not because they deserve it, but because you are displaying something of the character of God to them.
Every storm you face gives you the opportunity to let your trust in the Lord grow – as you trust Him more, you are able to have an undisturbed and controlled spirit which in turn makes it easier to react gently to those situations which previously triggered a torrent of rage and anger.
Why should we be gentle?
- God blesses those who are gentle. Matthew 5:5
- Gentleness defuses conflict Proverbs 15:1
- Gentleness disarms critics 1 Corinthians 4:13
- Gentleness is persuasive Proverbs 25:15b
- Gentleness is attractive 1 Peter 3:4
- Gentleness communicates love Col 3:19
- Gentleness earns respect Proverbs 11:16.
- Gentleness witnesses to unbelievers Titus 3:2 , 1 Peter 3:15
- Gentleness makes us more like Jesus “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29“
In the Passion Translation in Gal 5:22-23 gentleness is described as an expression of love: “But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.”
May your strength be displayed by gentleness! May you be a gentle giant!
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