Gentleness: What is it?
The American dictionary defines gentleness as: “Having an honorable personality, being a respectable person and being reared in a good upbringing.”
The Hebrew word for it is: Anah which means: To humble and abase oneself in order to pay attention and respond to others, to condescend, to look down, to keep an eye on, to listen to sing, to cry out for, to testify, to lift up. Gentleness is looking past the harshness of a face and seeing a delicate spirit on the inside.
The Greek word for it is: Prautes which means: humble and kind demeanor and character where strength and gentleness are combined. Aristotle said it was “the ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation, and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger, bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquility and stability in spirit.”
What does God’s Word say about Gentleness?
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Sprit in the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:1-3
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Col. 3:12
“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1 Peter 3:4
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience; that whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” 1 Peter 3:15
Gentleness is a quality so rare that the definition has taken me a while to absorb. The kind of person who displays these attributes (from the heart, not for show), is a person I want to be friends with. Of course, I would also like those qualities for myself! Who wouldn’t want to be known for having an honorable upbringing, and for being respectable?
These are the attributes of character that the Lord has commanded us as believers to develop within ourselves. We must take responsibility for our own development of character and stop using the excuses of our upbringing, our conditions (mental and physical) and our circumstances as reasons to not choose to do the right thing.
A gentle person must have the strength to hold back words when someone is cruel, to extend help when someone does not “deserve it”, and to pray for those who hurt and use them. To do this takes the most nobel heart, and to do this is to be like Christ.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
The word “Gentleness” used to paint a picture of “weakness” in my mind. I now see it as a picture of strength. Who can contain themselves when being persecuted or laughed at? A gentle heart that chooses to see the one good thing in her persecutors. Christ was such a shining example of the strength of gentleness, and it was not appreciated until after His death and resurrection. Who am I to expect an immediate reward for cultivating this noble spirit? Lord, I confess the sin of seeking for myself. The gentleness you speak of in your word is a spirit that thinks of others, and has no motive but to be kind and express true love, the self-sacrificing kind. In the name of Jesus, I declare that the spirit of Gentleness to descend upon me. Cover my heart and my will with it, Lord. I do not want to fight my fleshly desires of selfishness, I want to have your Spirit living in me so strong that without a word, my walk will speak that I am a child of you. In Jesus’ precious name, thank you for the power and the desire you are growing within me. Amen.”