Gentleness

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Gentleness has been defined in the following ways:

bullet"Mildness in dealing with others.  Gentleness displays a sensitive regard for others and is careful never to be unfeeling for the rights of others."  Billy Graham
bullet"Gentleness is an active trait describing the manner in which we should treat others."  Jerry Bridges
bullet"It is the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be harsh.  Likened to the harmlessness of a dove."  Spiros Zodhiates - The Complete Word Study Dictionary

Jerry Bridges distinguishes the two "gentleness & meekness" in the same way the Greek writers do:

bulletGentleness is an active trait describing the manner in which we should treat others.
bulletMeekness is a passive trait describing the proper Christian response when others mistreat us.

Both (gentleness & meekness) are born of power, not weakness.  Let's look at the following verses in the following order:

Isaiah 40, verse 10 - "See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him."

Isaiah 40, verse 15 - "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;  they are regarded as dust on the scales;  he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust."

Isaiah 40, verse 25 & 26 -  '"To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift you eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?  He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.'

Isaiah 40, verse 11 - "He tends his flock like a shepherd:  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;  he gently leads those that have young."

Did you see it?  In the midst of this power is gentleness.  We should never confuse gentleness with weakness.

"Gentleness - the way we treat others" - The gentleness of Christ is described in Mathew 11: 28 thru 30 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  What better time to receive the gentleness of Christ than when we are burdened, heavy laden, weighted down by life's pressures (demands of family, job pressures, finances, not enough time in the day, etc.)   Look again at what our gentle Jesus says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Does the word "rest" in the preceding verse mean to lay down?  I don't think so.  "Rest" is not an inactivity, "rest" is an inward tranquility while one performs necessary labor.  The Lord promises inner tranquility to the weary and heavy laden who come to Him while they are engaged in necessary labor.

"Meekness - refers to the passive way we respond to others when we are mistreated" - Meekness is not occupied with self, what belongs to it, what is right by it or how it should be treated.  According to Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words - "It is an inwrought grace of the soul;  and the exercise of it are first and chiefly towards God.  It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.....it is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such,  does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him.  This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him (God) for the chastening and purifying of His elect."  "In Galatians 5: 22-23 it is associated with enkrateia, self-control."   "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law."  (Galatians Chapter 5, verses 22-23)  Vines Expository Dictionary also states "It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power.  The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself;  but the Lord was 'meek' because He had the infinite resources of God at His command."  Zodhiates says "meekness does not denote an outward expression of feeling but an inward grace of the soul, a calmness toward God.  It is accepting God's dealing with us, considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship with Him.  Meekness does not blame God for the persecutions and evil doings of men." 

Now lets look at the following verses that deal with gentleness and meekness (humility):

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II Corinthians Chapter 10, verse 1 - "By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!

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Titus Chapter 3, verses 1 & 2 - "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men."

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Colossians Chapter 3, verse 12 - "Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

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I Timothy Chapter 6, verses 9 thru 11 - "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."

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I Corinthians Chapter 4, verse 21 - "What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?  This verse is not only an indication as to how we want God to treat us but how we should treat others.

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 Galatians Chapter 6, verse 1 - "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."

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 II Timothy Chapter 2, verses 24 thru 26 - "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."

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James Chapter 1, verse 21 thru 25 - "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does."

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I Peter Chapter 3, verses 15 thru 16 - "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

 

The greatest examples of meekness were seen in the last hours of Jesus' life before He died on the cross.  Let's look at these:

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Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a young donkey.  'Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt."' (John Chapter 12, verses 14 thru 15)    You might be wondering, what does the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey have to do with meekness.  For that answer we need to look in the Old Testament  "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."  (Zechariah Chapter 9, verse 9)    The verse found in the Old Testament describes how the Messiah will enter into Jerusalem and also specifically states that He is gentle.  Jesus did not enter Jerusalem riding on a mighty stallion, rather He chose to enter Jerusalem riding on a young donkey.  The symbolism is clear, riding on a young donkey symbolized gentleness and meekness.  
 

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Garden of Gethsemane

Judas and the Roman soldiers arrive to arrest Jesus.  Judas kisses Jesus as a signal to the soldiers as to the one to arrest.  Jesus responds in meekness "Friend, do what you came for."  (Mathew Chapter 26, verse 50) 

Peter draws a sword and cuts off soldier's ear - Jesus in gentleness responds 'But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him.' (Luke Chapter 22, verse 51)

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Before the high priest and the Sanhedrin

Jesus is arrested and taken to Annas and Caiaphas (high priest of the Sanhedrin) - The chief priests and the Sanhedrin falsely accuse him, they spit in His face and beat Him with their fists while others slap Him.  Jesus does not fight back.  Think about it, this is God in the flesh being beaten by evil men.  Look at how Jesus had previously responded to Peter -
'"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.  Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"'  (Mathew Chapter 26, verses 52 thru 54)   A legion of angels consist of 6000 angels.  Jesus had more than 72,000 angels at his disposal.  Jesus was meek and committed to the will of God the Father.

 
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Before Pilate and Herod and at the Cross

Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked Jesus.  Pilate ordered that Jesus be flogged with a whip and then crucified.  This whip had strands on the end where sharp stones where attached so that the whip would tear and cut the skin.  After they had flogged Jesus, the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on Jesus' headThe soldiers then carried out the orders of Pilate to crucify Jesus by nailing Him to a cross.  The soldiers took Jesus' clothes and divided them into four lots except for the undergarment.  This garment was seamless so they decided not to tear it but to cast lots for it.  Can you visualize the scene just described.  Jesus (God the Son) is bleeding and dying on the cross in plain view for anyone to see.  The soldiers have divided his clothes amongst themselves and gambled for his undergarment.  Every breath that Jesus is taking requires tremendous effort.  Loved ones are crying while others are mocking Him.   'The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him.  They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."' (Luke Chapter 23, verse 35)  
Yet, despite all the shame and mocking, Jesus endures the cross.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews Chapter 12, verses 2 thru 3)    The word "joy" in this verse is an inner tranquility based on accepting God the Father's will in dealing with Him as being good - not for His good in this case but for our good.  Consider the two thieves that were crucified on either side of Jesus.  One thief was casting insults at Jesus.  Look at the dialogue that took place between the other thief and Jesus: 'Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke Chapter 23, verses 22 thru 43)   Even while nailed to the cross, Jesus responds with gentleness and a promise.  Jesus willingly laid down His life for others, the ultimate sacrifice.  Remember, He could have called down over 72,000 angels to destroy the entire world if He so chose.  But He chose to stay on the cross, to die for our sins, for our good, so that we could be saved.  Jesus had a humble heart, He was committed to doing the Father's will. By dying on the cross, accepting upon Himself the punishment that we deserved, He accomplished the Father's will and glorified God the Father.   "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-- even as I try to please everybody in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.  Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."  (I Corinthians Chapter 10, verse 31 thru Chapter 11, verse 1)    Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  When we treat others with gentleness, we glorify the Father.  When we respond in meekness to the mistreatment directed toward us by others, we glorify the Father.  Think about the words of the following hymn:

When I Survey

1. When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it Lord that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God.  All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

3. See from His head, His hands, His feet.  Sorrow and love flow mingled down.  Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a treasure far too small.  Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

What are some practical things to do on our pursuit and practice of godliness?

  1. First of all decide that these are traits that we really want to have.  We want to deal with others gently and respond in meekness.  We really care and want to put others before ourselves.

  2. We will ask those who know us best and will be honest, how we come across to other people.  "Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." (Proverbs Chapter 27, verses 5 thru 6)  

  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of specific situations in which we fail to act with gentleness or concern for others, and also when we fail to exhibit meekness.  Be sensitive to the feelings of others.  More importantly, be sensitive to the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Only when we realize our failures in these areas will we begin to prayerfully seek God's guidance and strength in these areas.

  4. Memorize and meditate on Scripture.  Following are some to start with: 
     
    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Mathew Chapter 11, verses 28 thru 30)

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else."  (I Thessalonians Chapter 5, verse 15)

"But I tell you who hear me:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  (Luke Chapter 6, verses 27 thru 28)

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews Chapter 12, verses 2 thru 3) 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans Chapter 8, verse 28)

 
"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.  I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you; So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them.  Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.  For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you, declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah  Chapter 41, verses 9 thru 14) 

'But now, this is what the LORD says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.  Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.  Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth--everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."' (Isaiah  Chapter 43, verses 1 thru 6)


Conclusion

Pray that God will so work in your life that by His power you will demonstrate the fruit of gentleness.

 

Bible verses referenced in this presentation
are from the following translation:
New International Version