I love a good underdog story, and apparently, so does God. We’ve seen how He has historically used the last things one would expect to bring His kingdom in our hearts—not brilliance or power or fame or determination. Against all odds, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness win the day. This upside-down life of the Spirit gets better and better as the seeds He plants begin bearing fruit. Let’s move forward into a look at gentleness, the next underdog to wear a crown.
And I was gentle today, though anointed king. These men, the sons of Zeruiah, are more severe than I. The Lord repay the evildoer according to his wickedness!
(2 Samuel 3:39)
Gentleness is releasing control to God. I don’t know about you, but a massive struggle wages war inside of me to fend for myself. If I have the power to right a wrong done to me, why in the world would I not take a stand? Because there is One standing behind me who owns me. I don’t belong to myself anymore. The Lord is perfectly capable of working everything together for good without my interference. Sometimes gentleness looks like sitting with open hands, waiting for God to take up my case and execute justice on my behalf.
You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand supported me, and Your gentleness made me great.
Gentleness lifts others up. This is like a daddy who carries his daughter around on his shoulders, supporting her and giving her a vantage point she’d never have otherwise. God did this for us by bowing low and climbing onto a cross so we could be lifted up. Jesus could have chosen to save Himself a lot of misery, but His wounds have paid our ransom, His gentleness has made us great.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Gentleness is a spoken gift. If you were to channel surf for an hour, dollars to donuts gentleness would be a very small portion of the speech patterns you’d hear. Our culture just doesn’t value this trait, which is what makes it so incarnational. Try an experiment: for the next three days, say only what would qualify as gentle. Watch how people respond.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Gentleness is besties with humility. Oh, good, something else I’m terrible at. Identity goes so deep here. If I’m rock-solid in my assurance that the Father loves me no matter what, I don’t have to puff out my chest and strut like a peacock, all the while hoping nobody figures out I’m actually not so great. I have my Daddy’s smile; what else do I need? Gentleness beckons me to stop performing and producing. This is the quiet place of rest my soul is so desperate for.
What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
(1 Corinthians 4:21)
Gentleness is not being mute in the face of wrongdoing. But before, you said… Yes, we have the option of waiting for God to defend us when attacks come; however, if it’s the attacker’s heart at stake rather than your pride, it’s more compassionate to engage. Habitual sin poisons the soul, and gentleness allows us to correct in a way that brings life rather than death. In those instances, love looks like caring enough to share the antidote (for their sake, not ours).
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.
Gentleness is best utilized with both eyes open. We don’t want to become the sin police, frisking everyone we come into contact with, however gently, and neglecting our own souls. The gospel allows us to see our hearts as they are and to address the sins we find in self-examination. Love others enough to restore them. Love yourself enough to notice where you need to be restored.
Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
(1 Thessalonians 2:6-7)
Gentleness is sacrificial. It demands a thousand little deaths to self that brings forth newness of life. We realize that others are more important than we are (not because we’re scum, but because God has already lovingly taken care of us in every way possible), so we lay down our flesh and live out radical love.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Gentleness is hard work. When is the last time you found it thrilling to submit to your crazy boss? To obey someone who has no clue what they’re doing? It goes against our sense of justice, and it’s easy to pin the bristling on a value of excellence. Gentleness is put on display when it makes the least sense. I need this passage stamped on the inside of my eyeballs.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
(1 Peter 3:3-4)
Gentleness is a hot commodity in heaven. You probably won’t come across a Miss Gentle pageant this side of glory, but God sure seems to prize it. This is the only characteristic in Scripture He specifically names as “very precious.” Bizarre as it may seem, our cultivation of gentleness here will make us beauty queens when all is said and done. As our hearts turn more and more toward our gentle Shepherd, they’ll reflect more and more of His glory. And that’s a beautiful thing.
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
(1 Peter 3:15-16)
Gentleness is a startling work of the Spirit. Here’s my favorite take-away from today’s study: of every biblical author, guess who mentions gentleness the most? Peter! The rough-and-tumble fisherman whose mouth always got him into trouble! That cracks me up and humbles me at the same time. A transformed life is the best defense for the hope in us. An underdog in gentleness advocating the underdog of gentleness. What a way to bring in the kingdom!