By Jim Olsen
Gentleness is another attribute of Christ that is presented to us as both clothing for us to wear and as a fruit for others to see and partake. It is of utmost importance in this time in history. I sense that many Christians are becoming irritated and agitated by the events of the day: The consistent bombardment of news about protests, riots, societal changes and virus are interfering with our spiritual lives. I will try my best to communicate how you can receive Christ’s gentleness in these written notes, but I highly recommend you take the time to listen to the video that accompanies this lesson.
Gentleness is a primary attribute of God. In fact, every time you encounter God for yourself or others, you will encounter a gentle and humble being. A God who is not just seated on a golden throne in heaven, but a reachable God, shown as a humble and gentle servant; the man Jesus Christ. Paul describes gentleness as clothing to wear, as explained in Col 3:12.
Col 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness (praytes), and patience.”
The Greek word, praytes, means “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.” In addition to gentleness, praytes also means humility of a different kind than we studied last week. Praytes implies humility based on a gentle disposition, rather than last week’s word, tapeinos, where humility means “lacking pride, bowing close to the ground.” Praytes is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit, because gentleness should be very visible in a believer’s life.
Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness (praytes), and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Gentleness is at the center of our relationship with God. Jesus described himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). Think about that for a minute… When Jesus speaks to you, his word will be gentle and humble. God is not wrath, God is love. Love is kind and forgiving. So, as you grow in your walk with the Lord, learn to reject the harsh words you hear; consider them as either an attack of the evil one or, more likely, as your own fleshly anger pointing inward at yourself. Jesus heals and forgives every form of evil, but he does so with gentleness. Let’s consider this verse from James.
Jam 1:19 “My beloved brothers, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and every expression of evil, and humbly (praytes) receive the word planted in you, which can save your souls. 22 Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves.”
James is teaching us three basic things here. First, get rid of evil, moral filth, as well as anger, which add up to mean that God does not use harsh or evil words when communicating with you… No, he uses gentle and humble words that are planted inside you. Jesus takes over the dirty spots that fill our lives and replaces them with his love, but remember: Don’t hang around evil people. Stay away from violent and filthy people and sinful media. Choose to purse gentleness. The gentle word of Jesus will save your souls. The Greek for ‘can’ is dynamai which means ability.
And then, just as importantly, share the word you receive. Tell others how much you love them. Be kind and gentle to others. James puts that as “Be doers of the word.” Jesus said “Blessed are the meek (prays), for they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). Jesus is using a Greek root word for gentleness here, prays, explaining that the world will be inherited by people who display God’s gentle nature. Gentleness will survive throughout all eternity.
Not only does God deal with us gently, we are taught to treat others with the same spirit of gentleness and humility that God treats us with. That means it’s very important that we understand how God has dealt with us, how his loving hand has changed us, so that we share that same gentle touch with others. Paul tells us to restore each other, Greek, katartizo, meaning repair, with gentleness. Those who fall away, sin or have a lapse in faith should be treated gently just like we have been treated by God. Any time we deal with someone else’s failings, we run the risk of resurrecting our own faults, opening a door to possible temptation. Make sure you have a clean heart and don’t judge.
Gal 6:1 “Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness (praytes). But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Peter confirms the words of Jesus, James and Paul by saying that when we share our life story with others, that we must do it with gentleness and respect. He talks about people who slander the gospel, people who are against Christianity. Peter says that by presenting ourselves properly, they will be embarrassed by their behavior.
1 Pet 3:15 “But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have. But respond with gentleness (praytes) and respect 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you may be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ.
To bring a little deeper understanding about what humility and gentleness are all about, James talks about the attributes that work against gentleness. He talks about bitter jealousy, where a person looks at pieces of another’s life and says “that attribute should have been mine.” Jealously can easily take a second step backward, turning into selfish ambition, which goes one step further and says “I’ll take it from you.” James says our deeds should be done in Christ; they should be gentle and humble, giving without expecting a return.
Jam 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good conduct, by deeds done in the humility (praytes) that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor in your hearts bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, do not boast in it or deny the truth.”
We can sum up every attribute of Christ, particularly the gentleness and humility he has for us to wear and give away in this statement: “Give what you’ve received.” When we come to Christ, expect that he will treat us within the confines of his character: He is gentle and humble. When we fail, we expect that it’s his kindness that will draw us to want to change so that we will not want to continue in that fault.
So too, in dealing with others; a servant of the Lord must be kind, able to teach, forbearing and especially, be gentle to those who disagree with him. God promises again that a gentle and humble nature will open a door for the unbeliever to repent. When dealing with a person who’s been demonized, use gentleness, not anger, to bring deliverance to those ensnared by the devil.
2 Tim 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome, but he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and forbearing. 25 He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to his will.
Definitions are from InHisVerse Bible (IHV) - www.InHisVerse.com.
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Bible Quotations From: The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible, BSB (BereanBible.com). Copyright ©2016, 2019 by Bible Hub. Unless Otherwise Noted.