Monday, 18 April 2016

A Biblical Understanding of Gentleness

I always thought 'gentle' was synonymous with passive. To never correct. To just remain silent. I was wrong. Scripture teaches us otherwise.

Christians are repeatedly called to be gentle towards all people.

To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:2

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Tim 2:24

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Gal 6:1

So what exactly is biblical gentleness?

I found the easiest way to understand gentleness, was firstly to look at what it's opposite is.

Gentleness is not:

violent, quarrelsome, impatient, selfish, self-pleaseing, contentious, domineering, arrogant, rough, harsh, hasty, prickly, severe, morose, sour, crabby, unbalanced, abrupt or resentful.
Gentleness is not prickly.

Gentleness is:
equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, considerate, humane, peaceable, humble, mildness, meek, tenderness, softness, sweet disposition, smooth, even, balanced, good mannered, kind, courteous, a quiet firm resolve, not insisting on the letter of the law, and gracious.

As a mother, I am called to discipline my children with gentleness. I guess in the past, I mistakenly saw gentleness as being equivocal with not disciplining. I went through periods where I was completely passive in my approach to parenting. This of course, as common sense will attest, led to badly behaving children and an extremely frustrated mother. I would then flip over to the other side of things, and go from being passive in my approach to being harsh and impatient, with bursts of ranting and raving, venting my built up frustration. That is something I am not proud of, so don't follow my bad example there.

In 1 Peter 3:4, women are called to have a 'gentle and quite spirit' because it is of great worth in God's sight and is valued as an inner beauty that is unfading, unlike our physical bodies, whose beauty is fleeting.

1 Thes 2:7 likens gentleness to the way a mother wisely cares for her delicate, young children with consideration for their age, circumstances and maturity.

In my Bible dictionary, Vines describes gentleness the following way:

"It express that considerateness that looks humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case".

I have explained it to my children this way... The bible teaches that is it wrong for a man to steal...but it also says that consideration is to be shown when a man steals to prevent himself or his family from starving. He must still be disciplined, but consideration is to be shown when the discipline is metered out.

We also see this in Jesus' response to the church leaders of the day about the sabbath regulations.  They didn't want Jesus to heal on the sabbath or condone the picking of grain as they walked through the fields. Jesus defended his position by saying that it is always okay to do good on the sabbath and his disciples were really hungry.

So let me encourage Mothers to discipline with gentleness. To wisely weigh up our children's age and circumstances and maturity when we are discipling our children. To treat them with honour and respect and remember that it takes time to learn from their mistakes and it takes time to grow into maturity and learn to be wise.

Let us also remember to be gracious and gentle to each other and ourselves as women and mothers. For it too takes time for us to learn to parent well and manage the stresses of marriage, raising a family and running our households within our own individual circumstances.

The Lord bless you! :)

ps - I would like to honour my Dad and my Uncle Ron. Two of the gentlest people I know. They have taught me so much. They exude gentleness with every fibre of their beings. Thank-you for role modelling it for me. x

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