So what is gentleness? Some people think of gentleness as synonymous of weak, which it most definitely is not. Gentleness means meekness, which is the opposite of self-seeking. It means power under control. Gentleness can be thought of as a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender and caring approach toward others when they have weaknesses or limitations. You can speak the truth to someone, even if it is painful, and still be gentle by being aware of the words we use and the tone in which we say those words so that the truth can be received by the other person.
There are so many ways that Jesus teaches us about being gentle. In John 8:1-11 He is in the temple courts where people had gathered around him. He sat down to teach them, but the teachers of the way and the Pharisees brought a woman who had committed a sin. By the Law of Moses she would be stoned to death. They asked Jesus what he had to say - as a trick question. Jesus just bent down and began writing on the ground with his finger as they continued to question him again and again. Jesus then said to them “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He then stooped back down and wrote again on the ground. One by one, starting with the older ones, everyone left. Jesus then stood up and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She responded that no one did. At this point, Jesus then said “Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.”
In this story Jesus was very gentle. He did not ignore the woman’s sin, but helped her to see that change needed to be made. He did so in a very gentle way so that the woman would not be hurt, but could still see the truth. This is how we should treat everyone around us.
MORE TO THINK ABOUT:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” Colossians 3:12
This month I want you to look at a few situations and think / write how the situation was handled.
You are at home and your little brother (Billy) decides that he wants to sneak some extra cookies. You tell him that your mom said you both could only have 2 and that there he could maybe have some more tomorrow if it is ok with your mom. Billy really likes cookies and does not want to listen to you, maybe even yelling at you that you are not his mom and can not tell him not to have any more. Now you are the older sister and you know that Billy looks up to you, but realize that you are not the parent and he may not listen to you.
You need to decide what the right way to handle the situation is: (which one would be the right / gentle way of handling the situation:
- You are the older sibling and you know what is right so you tell Billy, “You are so stupid. I know better than you. Mom is going to be really mad at you and you are going to deserve it if you don’t listen to me!” Your mom ends up hearing how you have been talking to Billy and you get punished for being a bully.
You are in a volleyball practice and you have been practicing really hard at home on your drills. You love volleyball and coming to practice is one of the highlights of your week! You have gotten quite good at all of the drills the team has been working on and even went online to learn more techniques to help you play better. During practice today, you happen to have Suzie standing next to you for the game. Suzie is always talking, never paying attention, does not practice, and tends to disrupt the practice time. After about half of the practice you are really getting upset because you don’t want to have to keep listening to the coach correct Suzie and take time out of practice to keep repeating what Suzie should be doing. You are about to burst when the coach asks everyone to split up to work on drills in pairs. Everyone gets paired up and you are paired up with Suzie!
How should you work on the drills with Suzie:
- You take a deep breath and realize that you have areas that you can work on both in volley ball and other areas of your life as well. You realize that Suzie may not have the same level of talent that you do for volleyball, so you decide you are going to be patient and gentle in helping her. You speak kindly and encourage her when she is doing a good job. You look for the positives that she is doing while also reminding her of techniques that might help her to become a better volleyball player. You go home knowing you helped Suzie improve on techniques and she goes home happy that someone was willing to help her out.
- You roll your eyes and wonder why YOU have to be with Suzie. You are so much better than her. You think the coach is trying to punish you by putting her with you so you continually cut her down with words that are hurtful. You tell her she is doing things all wrong and occasionally you tell her some constructive input. You leave the practice angry and mad. Suzie leaves upset and wanting to quit the sport that she really wants to get better at (even if no one else realizes this)
We should always ask ourselves questions to see if we are really being gentle:
- Was I gentle in situations I faced today?
- Have I shown the same gentleness that God shows me every day?
- Do others describe me as a gentle person?
- Do I encourage others to “sin no more” or do I self-righteously cast the first stone?