Gentleness From a Place of Strength

Gentleness From a Place of Strength May 12, 2022

At times, I’ve been told that as a leader that I’m not forceful enough.

Lamb, Farm, Sheep, Livestock, Young Animal, Portrait

Image via Pixabay

Usually it means that someone doesn’t think I’m condemning something strongly enough, or that my words lack some fire.

I don’t deny some of it.

This guy is an introvert.

I’m not a shouter, and even when I’m angry I tend to remain pretty level. I choose to measure my words and speak them carefully, and I always want to show compassion, even in disagreement.

Some of that is personality, to be sure.

But some of that is biblical.

There’s a great line in the play/movie Doubt, where one character notes, “In ancient Sparta, important matters were settled by who shouted the loudest. Fortunately, we are not in ancient Sparta.”

The idea that the most forceful or the most eloquent or the most blunt or the most fiery words are the ones that hold the most “truth” should be a notion that we can easily reject.

It’s easy to be swayed by passion or prose or a perfectly worded takedown, but we need to look beyond the style of one’s words to the substance, always.

But there is also the matter of how Scripture calls us to live our lives.

Jesus could verbally take down a Pharisee with the best of them (see Mt 23).

He could flip a table and turn away a mob when He wanted to (Jn 2.13-17).

Movies usually depict Jesus in these scenes as furious, yelling His condemnation and cracking His whip against terrified temple-dwellers.

And we certainly should be able to understand Jesus as angry at times. God gets angry (e.g. Dt 9.8; Ps 89.38; etc.), Jesus is God (e.g. Jn 1.1; Col 1.15; Heb 1.3; etc.), therefore Jesus gets angry.

And yet – when speaking of Himself, Jesus also noted, “28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt 11.28-30)

Perhaps Jesus shouted and pushed when He got angry.

Or, perhaps it was a more gentle anger. Perhaps it was measured, and quiet, and less like our own furious moments.

And perhaps not! Perhaps the movies got it right.

But we must always be careful not to read things into the text that aren’t there.

And we must hold the stories of His anger in tension with passages like this, where He says that His nature is gentle. We need to wrestle these passages through, together.

But what is undeniable is that Jesus called Himself gentle.

What is also undeniable is that Scripture calls us to be gentle too. Kind of regularly, actually:

 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal 5.22-23)

(So one of the very marks, the very signs of the Holy Spirit working in one’s life is that gentleness should be increasing).

 

 1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4.1-3)

(Be completely humble and gentle! Not just a little bit!)

 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Eph 4.4-5)

(Gentleness should be “evident” to everyone around us. It should be noticed. It should be noteworthy).

 

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col 1.12-13)

(Gentleness is something we need to “clothe” ourselves with; this suggests that it may not always be our default, but it is something that we intentionally need to “put on.”)

 

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  (1Tim 6.10-11)

(Gentleness requires a pursuit – we are to chase after it).

 

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. (Titus 3.1-2)

(“Always” be gentle toward “everyone.” Not a lot of wiggle room there for us!)

 

Honestly, it is easier not to be gentle.

It is easier just to be blunt, be loud, to not give care to our words and actions.

But the biblical call to gentleness means choosing words carefully, softening them, taking the edges off.

It means listening well, speaking less, slowing down response time.

It means being intentional towards others, honouring them as fellow image-bearers of God, and as beloved family members if they belong to the family of Christ.

It means living in the footsteps of Christ, who called Himself gentle, and who invites us to follow after Him.

 

********

If you’ve enjoyed what you read here, you can follow Third Way Christians on Facebook or Instagram, or sign up here to get new columns emailed directly to you! As well, you can track along with Chris’ Sunday morning teaching at Meadow Brook Church’s YouTube page!

 


Browse Our Archives