The call to gentleness

Colossians 3:12 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

The Bible calls us to be gentle. Yet gentleness is one trait that we don’t really pray for or seek to cultivate. We usually pray for the rest, such as love, patience, self-control. Why? Perhaps we don’t understand what it really means.

What is gentleness?

This Greek word has no English equivalent. It is usually translated gentle or meek, and at other times humble.

How to be gentle?

1. Avoid conflict

Titus 3:2 (NIV) to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility (or gentleness) toward all men.

Here the Greek word is translated as humility instead of gentleness because they mean the same thing. Humility is required before one can be gentle. To be gentle is to be humble and avoid confrontation with people for the sake of keeping peace. We can only do this if we are humble.

The Bible teaches that pride leads to all kinds of quarrels.

Proverbs 13:10 (NIV) Pride only breeds quarrels…..

Humility, on the other hand, allows us to avoid conflict. For example, Abraham.

Genesis 13:5­9 (NIV) Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarrelling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarrelling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

2. Be gentle when we defend our beliefs

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

3. Be gentle when we correct the faults of others

Galatians 6:1 (NIV) Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.

2 Timothy 2:25 (NIV) Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

We do not practise gentleness by:

1. Withholding rebuke

Jesus calls Himself gentle.

Mat 11:29 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.

Yet when He overturned the tables at the temple when the people converted His father’s house into a den of thieves.

Yet the same Paul says that we may have to get tough if that person still does not listen

1 Corinthians 4:21­5:5 (NIV) What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit? 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 10:1­2 (NIV) By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you­­I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.

2. Compromising

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

We have to be prepared to stand for the truth.