What is Gentleness?
In First Peter we find encouragement not to be so concerned with our external garments that we forget about our internal garments. We are encouraged to wear a spirit of gentleness. “Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3)
We so desire to grow in this gentle and quiet spirit which is precious to Him and for others to experience His gentleness through us. Jesus is our example as He says to us, “Come to Me, all 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.” (Matthew 11) It is such a comfort to follow Him.
Gentleness is known through tenderness, softness of manners, sweetness of disposition and mildness of temper. [Webster]
Gentleness can be shown to others through:
- Our calm presence
- Listening more than we speak or act
- Acts done with tenderness and love
- Speaking respectfully
- Considering others feelings and needs [GCP]
Biblical Thoughts on Gentleness
“Meekness [gentleness] does not speak of weakness, but rather the strength to deny oneself and to walk in grace toward all men.” [MacDonald 2059]
“The common assumption is that when a man is meek [gentle], it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was ‘meek’ because He had the infinite resources of God at His command.” [Vine]
“Meekness is the opposite of being out of control. It is not weakness, but rather supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.” [MacArthur 1129]
“Put on meekness [gentleness]. Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. This word was used to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance, there is power: a wind can become a storm; too much medicine can kill; a horse can break loose. But this power is under control. The meek [gentle] person does not have to fly off the handle because he has everything under control.” [Wiersbe 687]
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs it up. (Proverbs 15)
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, skillful in teaching, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2)
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do no fear their intimidation, and do not be in dread, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who disparage your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. (1 Peter 3)
Paul Encourages Gentleness
Paul urged the Corinthians “I urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” And questioned if they wanted him to come with discipline or with gentleness, “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (2 Corinthians 10; 1 Corinthians 4)
And to the Ephesians, Paul wrote from prison, “I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4)
To the Philippians, Paul exhorted, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4)
And to the Galatians, Paul states for us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” And he listed gentleness as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5)
And to the Colossians, Paul champions, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3)
“Gentleness is a softening in our heart that allows for tenderness and acceptance of another person exactly as they are in that moment. And the fruit of that seems to be, a relaxation in the body and spirit of the other person that creates openness and deepens relationships.” ~Tricia Cerrone
“Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It’s something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength and other words – like aggression and even violence. Real strength is neither male nor female; but is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that any human being can possess.” ~Mr. Rogers
“Everyone carries gentleness within the core of their being. I believe that this gentleness pulses deep within us all and that there are certain steps that we can take to actively bring it out to the surface of our characters.” ~Andy Mort
“Gentle people make and embrace the time and space between something happening and when they respond to it. Gentle people choose to cultivate empathy, and an understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around their perception of reality. Empathy comes through a gentle strength and by observing ourselves, other people, and the situations we experience.” ~Andy Mort
“True gentleness is true strength. Gentleness is not weakness. In fact, it comes from strength and assurance.” ~Tricia Cerrone
Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 AMP)
Key Principle – We are encouraged to live our life in Christ and to ‘put on’ or to ‘clothe ourselves’ with: a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness and love.
If you would like to read more about the garments we put on, read Compassion – One of 8 Garments We Wear https://strengthwithdignity.com/clothe-yourself-with-compassion/
And Kindness – One of 8 Garments We Wear Kindness – One of 8 Garments to Wear – Strength with Dignity
Proverbs 15:1; Matthew 5:5; 11:28-30; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 10:1a; Galatians 5:16, 22-23; Ephesians 4:1-3; Philippians 4:4-5; Colossians 3:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:3-4, 14-16
10 Ways You Can Live Out Gentleness in the Bible. Published August 21, 2020. Retrieved June 8, 2021from [GCP] https://gentlechristianparenting.com/gentleness-in-the-bible/
Amplified Bible (AMP). Copyright 2015 by The Lockman Foundation.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 2005, pages 1129.
MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 2016, page 2059.
New American Standard Bible. Copyright 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.
Vine, W. E. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Published by Fleming H. Revell Company, 1981, page 56.
Webster 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved May 26, 2021 from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/gentleness
Wiersbe, Warren B. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Complete New Testament. Published by David C. Cook, 2007, page 687.
Quotes from: The Power of Gentleness in Everyday Life. Published October 2, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2021 from https://www.triciacerrone.com/the-power-of-gentleness-in-everyday-life/ and Gentleness is Strength: The 7 Habits of Highly Gentle People from https://www.andymort.com/gentleness-is-strength/