Summary: Gentleness is not a weakness but a strength. It seeks to fulfil the will of God and it shows concern for the needs of others.
"Come 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. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Gentleness is a Fruit of the Spirit. We can grow to be gentle and humble, like Christ.
Gentleness is not regarded as something good today. We view it as a sign of weakness.
• “Don’t let people push you around; you must take a stand.” Gentleness is seen as being pushed around or taken advantage of.
• In fact, if someone tells you, “you’re being gentle”, that is not a compliment. It probably means you have no backbone; you need to be firm.
This is surely a wrong understanding of this attribute, because Jesus says He is like this and we are to learn from Him.
• In the Beatitudes, He said “Blessed are the meek [gentle], for they will inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5) In other words, they are blessed because they will be fulfilled in life.
• They will inherit the earth – meaning they will experience the abundance of life; fully satisfied.
• Therefore gentleness in the biblical sense is not a sign of weakness but strength.
Jesus placed it in the context of “taking up the yoke”.
• The yoke is a crossbar that is used to harness the strength of a pair of oxen or more. It is similar to the bar used to connect the collar of horses in a wagon.
• The yoke makes the task easy and the burden light.
• The strength of these animals is brought under control. Their strength is focused (and not wasted wildly) to fulfil a purpose.
That’s the picture of gentleness – it’s not weakness, but strength under control.
A guide was taking a group of visitors through a factory. One of the things he showed them was a giant steam hammer capable of flattening a scrap car.
Then the guide put down a walnut and had the hammer break the shell without flattening the nut. That’s gentleness – great power under perfect control!
I came up with this definition: Gentleness is having the right, the power and authority to do something but choosing to bring it under control to fulfil a higher good.
• And for us, it’s a divine purpose. It is a Fruit of the Spirit.
(1) Gentleness Seeks to Fulfil the Will of God
When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, Peter drew a sword to defend Him but Jesus said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matt 26:53-54)
• He can call for 12 legions of angels (that’s 72,000 angels), at once, but He did not.
• Isaiah rightly prophesied, “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isa 53:7)
• Jesus: “How then would the Scriptures be fulfilled?”
Being gentle is to leave room for the workings of God’s will.
• It is not about fighting for what is right, but for God’s will to be done. It is not so much about defending self, but upholding God’s will.
• So our responses are tampered with graciousness and gentleness, because we want the purposes of God to be fulfilled.
God’s desire is to restore and redeem, not to judge and condemn.
• Isa 42:3 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
• Isaiah prophesied that Jesus will come to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isa 61:1)
Jesus was gentle with the woman caught in adultery (John 8) not because He was unjust or unrighteous, but to give room for her to recover from her sinful ways and through His forgiving love restarts her life anew. This was what happened – she was changed.
• Jesus made a detour to Samaria to meet another adulterous woman, by the well (John 4). She has had 5 husbands and the man she now have is not her husband. He did not judge her, but rather led her to salvation, for He has come to seek and save the lost.
• Jesus noticed Zacchaeus, a chief tax-collector when the world hated him and He invited himself into the sinner’s house. His gentleness touched Zacchaeus in a way that no one did and that changed his life.
(2) Gentleness Shows Concern for the Needs of Others