As we’ve traveled through these fruits of the spirit, I feel like people who know me would say I do some of them well and others they’d point out I really need to work on. They may say some come naturally and others through lots of intentional practice. Gentleness actually causes an uncomfortable giggle. If I believed in karma, this might be it.
I am loud. I am rough. I am cumbersome. There is nothing soft about me except perhaps my middle aged frame. I was ready to throw in the towel with the gentleness thing until I really studied this word…studied the heart of how Jesus demonstrated it to us. The original Hebrew language translated the word as meek. But since “meek” is no longer common, some biblical translations use “meek” and “gentle” interchangeably. Gentleness describes our actions and meek our attitudes.
Gentleness is more the way we handle a person’s feelings and spirit than the way we handle anything physically. There might be hope for me yet. How do you approach someone that is hurting? Do you dismiss their feelings because you don’t understand them? Do you ignore the hurt because it wouldn’t bother you? Do you tell them how they should feel instead of listening? Do you nurture the souls of others? Are other’s feelings even on your radar? Is it more important for you to be right or for you to be gentle? Do you boast in your rightness or gently guide with meekness. Time and time again, Jesus shows gentleness.
In Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus wept for Jerusalem. He wept over a lost opportunity. It reminds me of when our children make a choice that is not honoring God or your family and that intense hurt and disappointment it causes because of that great love you have for them. This moment in Matthew, for Jesus, was like that time you set an expectation and consequence for your child and they do something to require the loss of privilege and they had this super fun event planned and now they will have to miss out. You were excited for the opportunity for them and you know how happy it would make them and you have to follow through anyway. Jesus wept because He couldn’t save them. He wept because He loved them. He wept because they didn’t see His coming. Do we? Has he wept for us? Missed opportunities. When we ignore His nudge. When we ignore His call on our life. When we choose comfortable over conviction…our own happiness over His hope…when we turn away from pain of others to placate ourselves. I believe He weeps.I believe He weeps when we fail to show gentleness to others. It’s a convicting thought of how many times I could be the cause of His tears.
When I hear the word gentleness, my aunt Karen comes to mind. She is soft spoken and agreeable. Her eyes make intentional contact and she listens to every word you say. She even hugs softly. That is the image I have of gentleness. I think it’s the image many of us have. Soft, almost timid…reserved. I think there are some on the outside that may see her as weak, a pushover, or passive. I would argue that isn’t the case. I would argue she is more like Jesus. I would argue that she is able to lay down her pride and choose gentleness. I have seen her strength in her ability to take the higher road. I have seen her choose Godly over “told ya so”, Holy over arguing her point, wisdom over rightness. I have seen her calmly and with great conviction express herself and not worry about what anyone does with her truth. She knows it is true. That’s all she needs. I know how her gentleness, much like Jesus’, makes me feel heard, valued, worthy of her time and love. That is gentleness. I have seen the gentleness of Jesus in her and how much better the world would be if we could all follow suit.