If you’ve ever held a newborn baby, then you know the gentleness you must have with the child: the baby, tenderly in your arms; you being its strength as the head bobs, trying to lift to look around and take in all the new sights and sounds…
Showing gentleness: no matter how strong you are, you hold back your strength when you think about helping the other person. When helping a friend out of a car, you don’t yank on her arm to pull her out, you take her hand and lift her up. When you’re not using all your strength, you are showing gentleness.
Jesus shows us many examples of being gentle. When Peter wished to walk on water in Matthew 14:22-33, focusing on Jesus’ gentle nature made it possible to do so. But once he noticed the angry storm around him, he fell and Jesus had to pull him back into the boat.
Of course, we as Christians will never be so shining an example of gentleness as our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have many other examples that we can aspire to. We can read how Jesus treated a leper, who was shunned by society, with gentleness. “And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing, be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matthew 8:2, 3, NKJV) Jesus reached out and touched the leper. People feared to stand beside this man, much less have any physical contact with him. But Jesus wasn’t afraid to give the man personal attention and a gentle touch.
Another example can be found in Mark 14. People were plotting to kill Jesus. He knew that the time of His death was nearing, and no doubt felt anxious about what was coming. But He was sitting with His disciples when a woman came to Him. She had a very expensive jar of oil, and she poured the oil onto Jesus’s head. When the disciples saw what was happening, they were offended. “ ‘Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they criticized her sharply.
“But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Mark 14:4-9, NKJV) Jesus treated the woman with gentleness. His friends criticized her, their words were possibly sharp daggers to her spirit. But Jesus defended her, and He even held her humble act as something that would forever be remembered beside His death and resurrection.
In Luke 18: 15-17, Jesus shows gentleness with children. “Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (NKJV) He welcomed the little children come to him, and he enjoyed their presence. His disciples thought he needed to be doing God’s work with healing the sick and forgiving sinners, but they were rebuked for such a thought. In God’s eyes, little children are always welcome.
Another example is in John 8. Jesus and his disciples see a beggar, a man who has been blind from birth. Jesus tells his disciples that this man isn’t blind because of sin, but to be an example of God’s works. “When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And he said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” (John 9:6, 7, NKJV) This was a man who was blind all his life; he might have felt human touch when someone guided him from one place to the next, or when they helped him down into his place to beg on the streets. But Jesus’ touch was gentle. He took extra care to anoint the man’s eyes.
The story of gentleness doesn’t end there. Later in the chapter we can read that the Pharisees question the man, interrogating him to find out what happened. When the Pharisees were finished with him, they cast him out of their presence as if he was no good to them; in their minds, he was trash to be tossed aside. But… “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’
“He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’
“And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’
“Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” (John 9:35-38, NKJV)
Jesus searches for those who are cast out and rejected, and He offers them a place to be accepted into.
In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul tells us to be gentle in nature as Jesus was: “…I beg you to live the way God’s people should live, because he chose you to be his. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue as you are, letting peace hold you together. There is one body and one Spirit, and God chose you to have one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. There is one God and Father of us all, who rules over everyone. He works through all of us and in all of us.”(ERV) And in Galatians 6:1 he tells us to be gentle to people who are in sin: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.” (AMP)
The fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, is in many ways like a peach. Whether the fruit has a firm and crisp inside or a soft and juicy one, the outer skin of the peach is fuzzy and fun to hold. It’s got a gentle touch.
Not only does the peach have a gentle touch, but it’s got a soft flavor, too. Sometimes, it’s hard to notice the taste’s softness when the peach has a crisp bite, but it’s still a quiet flavor that’s subtle and smooth. Even when it’s too soft to eat, you can toss it in a blender with just 1/2 cup milk and 2 large scoops of vanilla ice cream and make a deliciously soft and smooth shake to enjoy.
Recipe for Gentleness:
Give personal attention
Use soft words
Defend the poor in spirit
Honor the humble
Welcome little children
Accept the outcasts
Gentleness comes in many ways. To each person we meet, we may have to serve a different kind of gentleness. And like the peach, not everyone will appreciate the gentleness you offer. Whether it’s giving someone personal attention, or speaking kindly in favor of a stranger, or holding a child in your lap or arms, or giving someone who feels sadness a listening ear, there will be people who consider your gentleness as weakness or foolishness. Even these intolerant people should be shown gentleness: hold no wrongs against them. Instead, remember Peter, who wanted to walk on water to meet his Lord; and remember Jesus’s response to him. “So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on water to go to Jesus.” (Matthew 14:29, NKJV) If we can live like the examples we see from Jesus, then perhaps we, too, can lift someone up and help them find salvation through Him.
“Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice! Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.” Philippians 4:4-6 (VOICE)