Character Trait No.30
Definition: Responding tenderheartedly to the needs of others.
“And the servant of the LORD must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” II Tim.2:24
Gentlemen are a vanishing breed. Modern pagans, having accepted the Darwinian survival of the fittest theory, increasingly devalue the quality of gentleness. The barbarians have taken over with their rude, crude ways. Mankind is losing the gentle touch. As TIME magazine quoted Mother Teresa: “ When a mother can kill (abort) her own child, what is left of the West (that society) to save? God first asked this question: “Can a mother forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even if she could, I could not forsake you, says the Lord.” (Isa.49:15) Yet in the United States alone, since the Supreme Court’s Roe Vrs. Wade ruling in 1973, as many as thirty million have been legally butchered – with their own sweet mothers’ permission! And yet a mother’s kindness is supposed to epitomize gentleness. What then about the rest of modern society? As separated people from such a callous culture by our new citizenship in heaven, we must counter such barbarism by our own excellent gentle behavior.
Force applied to people rarely results in lasting positive change. As Jay Wilson has said: “People are like log chains – you can pull them but not push them.” Any behavior that is forced on people only lasts as long as their fear of exposure and punishment. Man’s heart produces his behavior. Real heart change, which equals positive character development, takes painstakingly careful treatment. Such gentle treatment of people means patiently helping each individual at their own pace and according to their own temperament. Just look at the shepherd with his sheep or the good mother with her babe. Or nurses with their patients or a horse trainer with a skittish pony. All of these helpers must be gentle or face paranoid sheep and kicking, screaming infants, exasperated patients and runway ponies. In dealing with people, we’ll see negative kickback for any foolish forcing of square pegs into round holes. Gentle treatment produces excellent results in truly helping those who need it the most.
The Greek word for gentle is epiekes, from epi, unto, and eikos, likely, and denotes seemly, fitting; hence, equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, not insisting on the letter of the law. It expresses that considerateness that looks “humanly and reasonably at the facts of a case”; it is rendered “gentle” in I Tim. 3:3, in contrast to contentiousness. In Titus 3:2, “gentle” is in association with meekness. It is a quality of the wisdom from above in James 3:17. Another Greek word, epios – mild, gentle, was frequently used by Greek writers as characterizing a nurse with trying children or a teacher with a refractory (disobedient) scholars, or of parents toward their children. In I Thess. 2:7, the Apostle uses it of the conduct of himself and his fellow-missionaries towards the converts at Thessalonica. (W.E Vine’s Greek Expository, pp.144-5)
In Gal. 5:22 the chrestotes, kindness, goodness is translated “gentleness” The corresponding adjective chrestos is rendered “good”, “kind”, “easy”, “gracious.” It is a fruit of the Spirit of Christ within us, therefore part of the perfect character that we must possess in order to enter into our eternal home of heaven:
“For is these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ... Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”(II Pet.1:8,10-11)
God’s word clearly says that mean, unkind and rude people are not going to enter heaven. Without gentleness, one cannot claim Christ as Lord and Savior. See the list of the traits that characterize the ungodly pagans in Romans 1:29-32. Unmerciful summarizes the character of these reprobates. God’s people have mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Mat.5:7) Jesus was talking about the God’s mercy on us as sinners, not just about getting mercy from other people. Remember the parable of the ungrateful, unmerciful servant in Matt. 18? Choking a fellow servant that owed him a few bucks while he had been forgiven of an approximately $16,000,000 debt is the peak of unmerciful behavior! Christians who have been forgiven of all their sins and then treat others mercilessly will be shown no more mercy from an angry God in heaven! Jesus also said in Matt. 5 that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. (5:20) So how merciful were they when they incited the crowd to scream, “CRUCIFY HIM!” There they revealed their true cold, hard hearts of steel.
Gentleness is the prerequisite for true manliness. Not strutting around cursing and beating up weaker people like the proverbial neighborhood bully Consider a huge, muscular man with a tiny baby held lightly in his thick arms. Or a large horse with a small girl sitting happily on its massive back. Or the Son of God kindly blessing the little tikes as his callused carpenter hands hold them. Or big daddy’s strong hands gently fixing a child’s broken toy. A good Samaritan pouring soothing olive oil onto raw wounded flesh of the mugged traveler on the Jericho road. These are real men – gentlemen. A mother’s soft lullaby. A whispered word of encouragement to a frustrated student the restores lost confidence. A patient groom with his newlywed bride. GENTLENESS is the kiss of kindness to world-weary, wounded humanity thirsting for the milk of human-kindness, and even more, God’s unconditional love. Be patient. Be soft. Be quiet. Be soothing. Be gentle, saint, and heal the broken hearted:
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My sould delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations(peoples). He will not cry out our raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish...” (Is.42:3-4)
Jeff Hostetter, February 2001