As I was reading Philippians 4, all my attention focused on verse 5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” This was Paul’s final exhortation to the church which began in verse 4 with “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: rejoice!” He then follows up with “The Lord is near.” I wondered why Paul didn’t say “Share your faith with everyone or tell everyone you meet about Jesus. The Lord is near.” I know gentleness is important in how I treat others: Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” What does gentleness show to others?
Gentleness isn’t a sign of weakness, but a demeanor with how you speak and treat others. We can speak truth with gentleness. When my children did something wrong, I always had the choice to disciple with harshness or gentleness. I wish I could say I always chose the latter, but they learned best with gentle discipline and I sure felt better about my parenting because I was in control. When harsh words come out of my mouth it reflects the opposite of what I want my heart to reflect.
I asked the high school students from church “What is the significance of gentleness? Ponder what it means to show gentleness to everyone you interact with?” I got the following response from Kaitlyn:
“Well ok here is what I think he said let your gentleness be known to all because once people see that you are gentle it will be easier for people to approach you and then that is an easy way to share your faith with them or something but that’s just what I think I could be wrong..” Do you think Kaitlyn is wrong? I don’t, and I found her explanation to be quite insightful.
As I searched for other verses in the New Testament that used the word gentleness, I found some insight into the meaning:
- 2 Corinthians 10:1
“By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!”
- Colossians 3:12
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
- 1 Timothy 6:11
“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
- 1 Peter 3:15
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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,”
Jesus is gentle, God’s people should be clothed with gentleness and we need to share our faith with gentleness. Imagine for a moment how it would feel to be clothed in gentleness. Actually, sit in gentleness for a few minutes. How did that feel? How much joy would it bring to know you can give others the feeling of gentleness? Imagine what it would look like if we intentionally showed gentleness to people throughout the day. What would that look like at work, church, the grocery store, school, driving, in your home with all who enter, your children, spouse and even your dog (aww, I can’t leave Cooper out)?
I can’t finish without asking you take a look at how your gentleness thermometer is toward yourself. Be gentle.