Series: Seasonal Attitudes To Have All Year Long
We have been looking at seasonal attitudes to have all year long. First, there’s contentment, which is vital in a season where overspending is easy to do. Second, we looked at being thankful, especially how it can be a catalyst to our spiritual growth. Then we saw that an attitude of peace was critical to reducing stress during the holidays—we need to let God’s peace keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus by presenting our requests to him in worshipful and humble prayer.
Now we take a look at another seasonal attitude we need to have: Gentleness. Why gentleness? First, gentleness is supposed to be a mark of a Christian. It’s one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), so it had better be growing in our lives.
Second, it’s during the holidays that many people who have lost loved ones feel that loss most. The person could have died six weeks previous, six months previous, or six years previous. But the thought of spending Thanksgiving or Christmas without them opens the wounds of their heart. Christians should be a people who can reach out in gentleness to those who are grieving.
What is gentleness? It’s funny how you think you know what a word means until you try to define it. We know what gentleness is from seeing it in action. A mother with her baby. A nurse with a patient. A kitten curled up and asleep on someone’s lap. But how do we describe it? One secular encyclopedia had a surprisingly good definition:
Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. A gentle person still speaks truth, sometimes even painful truth, but in doing so guards his tone so the truth can be well received. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleness)
My own definition of gentleness is this: Gentleness is an attitude and an action that combines kindness and concern for someone with physical and emotional sensitivity. It’s an attitude because it’s how you really feel about someone, but it’s also an action. Gentleness has to be shown in action for it be gentleness.
You see this with a mother comforting a child with a skinned knee. She bandages the knee in kindness, she shows concern with physical touch, stroking his hair, and soothing words help him cope emotionally.
You also see this gentleness with a friend, listening to the grieving of another. There’s kindness in just being willing to listen. There’s a physical connection with eye contact, or perhaps they are sitting side by side on a park bench. There’s emotional sensitivity with words like, “I hurt with you” or the like.
Gentleness is an attitude and an action that combines kindness and concern for someone with physical and emotional sensitivity.
Why should we be gentle? First, because we see gentleness in our Creator and Savior.
SEEING THE GENTLENESS OF GOD
There are numerous places in the Bible that we could look at for descriptions of God’s gentleness. One example is how Jesus handled children. It’s always a good sign of gentleness in someone when that person is gentle with children.
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. (Mark 10:13)
The disciples were annoyed with those kids. After all, Jesus had important things to say to the people. The kids were just in the way. So they tried to shuffle them off somewhere else.
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14)
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:15)
The comparison that Jesus is making is this: A child has faith in his parents to provide for him, to be there, to catch him when he falls. A child, when hurt or scared, will run to the first leg that looks like their father. So a person, who has a sincere, trusting faith like that in God, will enter into the kingdom. Do you have that faith in Christ today?
Then, as we’ve been saying, we see the gentleness of our Savior.
And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:16)
Jesus’ primary purpose in coming was to die for our sins and to rise again victorious over death and sin and Hell. But he also set an example for us to follow, and more than that, he set an example for us to become. Look to Jesus as a model of gentleness.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek [gentle] and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
Take a read through the gospels, looking for Jesus’ gentleness. Ask yourself: how can I be gentle like him in this or that situation? Ask God to change your heart.
The Bible not only gives us examples of gentleness, but also commands us to be gentle.
SHOWING GENTLENESS TOWARD OTHERS
Gentleness is supposed to be a characteristic of a Christian—how do we know that?
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness [another word for gentleness], temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)
Another command to be gentle is in Titus 3, the apostle Paul tells the young pastor Titus that he should teach his people, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:2).
Even when we need to rebuke someone, it’s to be done in gentleness:
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness [again, another word for gentleness]; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
How do we get to be gentle? How do we develop gentleness in our lives?
SOWING GENTLENESS IN YOUR LIFE
1. Gentleness Is A Fruit That Should Be Growing In You
First, as we’ve already mentioned, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. If you are a Christian, gentleness will grow in your life. How do you become a Christian?
1. Admit that you are a sinner and understand that sin is not just doing bad things. Sin is rebelling against God and his ways. Many people will admit that they have sinned, they’ve done some bad things, maybe even really bad things. But they disconnect their sin from God. They just figure that they can take care of it themselves. Maybe they say that their sin is still not great enough for them to be punished by God. But since sin is rebelling against God, then any sin is great enough to be punished by God (Romans 6:23).
2. You become a Christian when a you place your trust in Jesus Christ, who died in your place for your sins. He took your punishment. You must put your dependence on him and him alone to be saved.
If you are a Christian, then the fruit of the Spirit will begin to grow in your life—and it will grow—it will be the evidence of a true faith in Christ. It will grow, unless you are grieving the Spirit of God by continually walking in sin (Ephesians 4:30). It will grow, unless you are avoiding fellowship with your Lord and Savior.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)
The first step in sowing gentleness in your life is to ask yourself, “Am I walking in the Spirit or grieving him? Am I following Jesus closely or following my own path?”
2. Actively Seeking To Show Gentleness
Okay, so you pray for gentleness to grow in your life. You desire to be close to Jesus. You finish your morning devotions and then head out into the world and promptly forget all about it. We need to be actively seeking opportunities to show gentleness. Look for ways to show gentleness in…
1) How we talk. Do we use harsh words? Do we express our opinions in a way that puts down other people? Do we gossip about others? The gentle Christian is not going to be the kind of person who “speaks his mind and lets the chips fall where they may.” The gentle Christian will find the right way to speak to and speak about other people.
2) How we care about others. Gentleness will respect a person’s dignity as a human being created in the image of God. Abortion destroys gentleness towards babies. Racism destroys gentleness toward people different from you. Sexism destroys gentleness toward women.
The greatest care, and greatest expression of gentleness, that we can have toward anyone, even Muslims or enemies at work, is to be praying for their salvation or personally witnessing to them about Christ.
3) Be around all kinds of people. How can you learn gentleness if you aren’t around people? Don’t limit yourself to “your kind,” whatever that might be: your age group, your skin color, your gender, and so forth. Gentleness, like anything else, needs to be tried and tested in order to grow. Yes, you’ll have to pray for strength and wisdom to be gentle around some people, but that’s exactly what God wants you to do—to rely on him. That’s why those different or difficult people are in your life—so God can train you to be gentle.