Summary: Now we deal with gentleness, which is actually from the same root word as kindness, to be useful. However there are many more uses of the word in the Greek that have slightly different meaning like mildness, meekness, suitableness, and humility.
I find that passage gives me a sense of the peacefulness and gentleness of the night of Christ’s birth. There’s no better display of gentleness in the Bible than Mary when she found out she was pregnant, and then gave birth to Jesus as she pondered all these things in her heart. Every thing we hear about, and from Mary seems to have a softness or gentleness about it. I also remember when Denise was pregnant, I had never seen her have such a gentleness of Spirit. Maybe that’s what that pregnancy glow is.
Today we explore another fruit of the Spirit that gets lumped together with goodness and kindness sometimes, so let’s just take a minute to review. We learned that kindness tends to be the actions of love, being useful in someone else’s life, making their life easier. Goodness is more of a character trait that certainly leads to good deeds, but it’s more of a “nature” what we call perfect when we refer to God and His goodness.
Now we deal with gentleness, which is actually from the same root word as kindness, to be useful. However there are many more uses of the word in the Greek that have slightly different meaning like mildness, meekness, suitableness, and humility. Of course it also means what we would expect it to mean:
I. Gentle (Mt 11:29, 1Pe 3:4)
Aren’t you glad you pay me to come up with this deeply intellectual stuff?
The sentence still jumps out at me from the middle of an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, which I have hardly ever read by the way. It’s been a while since I read it, but it was one of those expressions that sticks with you: "People want to be lightly governed," the writer said, "by strong governments."
That’s what we’ve wanted since we were small children. You wanted your dad to be big and strong and able to do anything you could think of—except that, when he dealt with you, it had to be with gentleness and tenderness. You wanted a policeman on the corner tough enough to handle any neighborhood bully, but who would also hoist you to his shoulders and help you find your parents when you got lost in a crowd.
Lots of muscle; lots of restraint. It seems there’s an innate yearning in almost all of us for that rare combination. When evil people rise up, we want a government with the clout to back them down. Yet we never want that clout turned on us.
In the final analysis, people want to be lightly governed by strong governments because that’s how God governs.
The omnipotent ruler of the universe is also the one who invites us tenderly: "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
He is saying that he is meek and humble, not like the Pharisees who laid the load of the Law on people all the time. Pressure doesn’t make us feel rest, but gentleness allows us to let go and relax.
1 Peter 3 talking about wives who are very vain and overly proud of the way they look, Peter calls them to have a gentle and quiet spirit. He’s not telling them to be weak and not to talk, but he is saying that God looks at their heart, and this heart should be humble, not flaunting what they have.
But gentleness is not just a female trait. Jesus is gentle. Perhaps the best way to describe this gentleness is strength under control. When you play with your baby do you use the same strength you would if playing with another adult. Obviously a baby needs to be handled more gently. Mothers of course are usually more gentle because their nature tends to be gentler, and I think Peter is saying here that women were made by God to be gentler than men, so don’t be afraid to express this God given attribute.
But men we can be gentle too. It’s not unmanly! It is not weakness! It is necessary. Was Jesus weak?
The essence of gentleness is that it is:
II. The Absence of Pride (Eph 4:2, 2Co 10:1)
2 Cor 10:1 Paul is defending himself against accusations that he’s not humble. The “Gentleness of Christ” he speaks of is his slowness to anger and patience, allowing time for repentance.
Ephesians 4:2 talking about unity in the church, “walk (live) in a manner worthy of your calling as a Christian with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” How many of us can say we are walking in a manner worthy of the title Christian? That’s a heavy question.