Last month’s “Women’s March,” a protest over President Trump’s conservative policies, exposed temper tantrums and lives overflowing with hatred, fear, and anger. While some women marched with signs, others publicly expressed vulgarities and spiteful words. Inaugural protesters were violent and destroyed other people’s property, and some wanted to make innocent lives miserable by obstructing traffic. Facebook displayed a vocal dissenter that was taken off a plane for harassing passengers. Exaggerations, lies, and fear-mongering have been repeated, spread, and believed.
Satan has been busy deceiving the masses and instigating aggressive conflict between people. He loves to ruin relationships using self-centered hearts and abusive mouths. We need to walk away when we feel our tempers rise and calm down before saying anything that is destructive and evil. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20).
Does your anger get the best of you? Do you let stress and pressure build up in you until you explode? Emotional outbursts are the result of dealing with difficulties in your own strength and losing control. Short-tempered, violent, and vindictive people lack a gentle spirit and usually walk around with unresolved issues.
What is gentleness and how do we become gentle people? Gentleness is strength under control. It is prohibiting our feelings from overruling our mind. Having a gentle spirit does not mean you will be a doormat or lose authority. Rather, it’s reigning in anger, hurt, and harmful emotions like bitterness, and giving them to the Lord. In place of revenge, it’s forgiving quickly and refraining from saying anything to intentionally upset others. Gentleness is seen by our actions, but more so through our words. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
Gentle people use their words to build others up and encourage or edify them. Tearing someone down with criticism or berating another in front of others is malice. Using profanity and hurtful words devalue both the recipient and the speaker. Ephesians 4:29-30 states, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Gentle people speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth isn’t hard; doing it in love is. Our tongue can be a sword that wounds people with the truth or a source of wisdom that conveys love. We tend to be meanest at home and value what other people think of us more than our own family’s feelings. More respect is usually given to the boss and coworker, neighbor, or church member, and it’s demonstrated by the way we comparatively speak to them.
We should remember how gentle and patient the Lord has been to us, and follow His example with others. Jesus dealt with sinners gently and extended forgiveness to them. He even identified Himself as being “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
Paul encouraged believers to “be completely humble and gentle” to promote unity in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:2). “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). We’re to give the reason for the hope we have, with gentleness and respect (1Peter 3:15).
Throughout the New Testament, the apostles gave instructions to be gentle like Jesus Christ. This is possible because the indwelling Holy Spirit helps believers in their sanctification process; it’s through the Spirit’s power that we can become more Christ-like in our character. We don’t produce gentleness naturally nor attain virtue in our own strength. Trying harder helps, but usually falls short. It takes a complete surrender to the Lord and asking for His will to rule our life day by day (and sometimes, hour by hour).
Do others describe your character as possessing a gentle spirit? Have you asked the Lord to help you become more like Him in your words and actions? While some people are politically volatile, Christians are to “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Setting your heart and mind on such things is richly rewarded.