I will confess that when I started searching for gentleness in the Bible today, I did not have any expectation of what I would find. With many of the other fruit I can immediately come up with a scripture containing the word. Love? John 3:16. Peace? John 14:27. And gentleness? … Nope, nothing comes to mind.
I found a long list of verses about gentleness. And I decided that I will have to look for some pattern, some common theme, amongst these to write about.
I did not see this one coming…
James 3:17 (WEBBE): 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
1 Peter 3:15 (AMP®): 15But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.*
2 Timothy 2:24-26 (WEBBE): 24The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, 25in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, 26and they may recover themselves out of the devil’s snare, having been taken captive by him to his will.
Galatians 6:1 (WEBBE): 1Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted.
Gentleness is mentioned in the same breath as teaching, correcting, defending the faith and as a property of wisdom. Jesus even said that we should learn from Him because He is gentle!
Matthew 11:29 (WEBBE): 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.
I have taught software development for many years in one way or another – as tutor to a class of university students, on the job training of new colleagues, and now even as an instructional designer. And I have learned a lot about how to teach, for example tie the new information into something that the students already know (actually, I still keep learning that one again and again). Gentleness has, however, never even featured on my radar in this context.
Thankfully, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. So the Holy Spirit equips us with the one trait (gentleness) that we really need to teach others about spiritual matters.
Note that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure” (James 3:17 WEBBE). So being gentle in our teaching can never mean changing the teaching to no longer be pure, just to avoid offending somebody. Being gentle is all about presenting that pure wisdom in a way that speaks to the hearer’s heart. It is a reflection of God’s nature (love) through how we teach.
So next time when you are teaching or correcting or defending the faith, allow the Holy Spirit to add gentleness. You will be amazed at the results!