As daughters who are loved, chosen and made holy by our Father God, we are called to reflect Jesus to those around us by clothing ourselves Christ-like character.
We are to be compassionate, tender hearted to the needs of others. We are to be kind and considerate. We are to live in humility and submission. We are to be gentle.
What picture does that word bring to your mind’s eye?
For me, the word gentle conjures up an image of a mother holding her sleeping baby. Perhaps she is rocking the baby and singing softly. Or maybe she is carefully placing the baby to nap in a crib. If the baby begins to stir or lets out a little cry, she nestles close and rocks and shushes to calm again.
In Colossians 3:12, the word gentleness comes from the greek word praos, which is also translated as “meekness.” Praos is a mildness of disposition, a gentleness of spirit. It is a calmness and selflessness in the face of hardships, fears, and insults. It is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trusting in God’s goodness and control over situations and circumstances, relying on His strength and power, rather than asserting one’s own will and trying to control and fix things in one’s own strength.
Gentleness is a calming, comforting, and caring quality that is not harsh, rough, or violent.
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says, “I am gentle and humble in heart.” And in Matthew 21, we read an Old Testament prophecy that Jesus fulfilled as He rode a donkey into Jerusalem:
Jesus is gentle. This does not mean He is weak and won’t discipline and correct us when we go astray. Rather, it means He is not cruel or out of control in His actions. It means He cares for and comforts His children. Even in the face of death, Jesus trusted God and didn’t assert His own will. He didn’t resist those arresting Him or retaliate when He was mocked and beaten. He remained calm and selfless at the insults of His accusers and in the agony of death.
One image the Scriptures give us of God that shows us His gentle nature so clearly is God as our Shepherd:
In John 10, Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd.” Like a shepherd who endures the weather and rough terrain, who does not cower when predators attack the flock, who searches for the lost sheep, who knows each individual sheep and cares for them, Jesus protects, guides, comforts, corrects, provides and cares for His children.
In knowing that Jesus is our Sovereign Shepherd, always good to us and in control of our lives, we can find selfless calm in the face of all we face. We can find rest in His gentle embrace. We can be gentle towards others, even when we’re stressed, angry, hurt, or afraid.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, and in 1 Timothy 6:11, we are called to pursue gentleness. The gentle character of the Good Shepherd is also to characterize His flock.
In Proverbs, we see the power of gentleness in our conversations with others:
There is comfort in gentle words. They are like a balm that soothes and calms. There is strength gentle words. More so than harsh words and raised voices. There is power in gentle words. People will listen and hear what we have to say when we speak with gentleness and respect. As 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear.” (NLT)
When we are stressed and overwhelmed, when we’re having conflict, when someone has just said something hurtful, it’s all too easy for us to be anything but gentle. We tend to snap with harshness. We tend to fret with worry. We tend to huff and slam doors. We tend overlook others and be insensitive to their feelings and needs.
In these times we need to find rest in the presence of our gentle-hearted Shepherd. We need to look to Him and breath out a prayer asking for His gentle hands to ease our stressed, tense, and hurt hearts. We need to trust God and let His Spirit soften our spirit, causing gentleness to take root and grow.
We are to be more concerned about the state of our spirit than putting on perfect appearances. For a gentle spirit will show itself in gentle words, attitudes and actions. People will remember and be impacted by our gentleness towards them, the comfort they received, the care we showed, the calm we brought to a hard situation, long after they’ve forgotten what we wore. And that is truly beautiful.