When is the last time someone called you gentle? If you are anything like me, it may have been a while. Most men, a good number of women and most leaders (regardless of gender) are often less than gentle. There is a honor and dignity for being hard, harsh and forceful. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of respect for being gentle. Unfortunately, the church has taken a cue from the world on this one, and gentleness goes out the window. There are some overwhelming problems with this tendency.
First, I think it’s forgotten that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. That means when we are not being gentle, we are not controlled by the spirit. That doesn’t mean we can’t be firm, that we can’t rebuke or correct. It means when we do those things, if the spirit is leading we are gentle. If we are not gentle, the flesh is in control. No one particularly wants to be called a wimp or a push over, but how much less do you want the Spirit to refer to you as a carnal or fleshly Christian?
Second, we are commanded to be gentle. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. One that we often ignore or overlook. Being gentle is hard, especially when anger is the primary emotion. Maybe that is why James tells us the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. When we are filled with anger, we can’t be filled with gentleness. Anger, rage and frustration must step aside and let gentleness take it’s place. It’s gonna require patience, prayer and humility, but so does anything else in the Christian life.
Lastly, the world needs us to be gentle. The world doesn’t need another strong handed leader. Those are in great abundance. You can find order barking leaders, drill sergeants and, unfortunately , pastors everywhere you look. We don’t need anymore. What we need is leaders who show grace and gentleness to the world, like Jesus did. How many church leaders would treat a woman caught in adultery as gentle as Jesus did? The Samaritan woman at the well was not an upstanding church member with multiple husbands and now living out of marriage. Would most leaders be as gentle. Jesus seemed to be gentle with everyone except those religious leaders who weren’t gentle. Maybe we should focus a little less energy on being in charge, and a little more on being gentle.