January 26, 2012

Choosing Gentleness

Ephesians 4:1-6

Be completely humble and gentle …
Ephesians 4:2


In the Bible the word for “gentle” is sometimes translated as “meek.” Being meek is probably not something most people aspire to. In our way of thinking, meekness not only sounds like weakness; the two words mean virtually the same thing. But true gentleness resembles strength more than weakness.

Gentle people have the potential to be rude or proud, but they have deliberately decided not to behave that way. They have intentionally chosen gentleness. That actually takes more strength than it does to treat others harshly. Unleashing our anger is usually easier than restraining ourselves. So meekness is hardly weakness. A decision not to retaliate may look like inaction, but it’s actually humility at work. What appears to be a lack of assertiveness is robust spiritual action.

In his book Grace for the Moment, Max Lucado offers a pledge that we could all make our own: “Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”

Those words convey how demanding it can be to choose gentleness. But we can do that because we have experienced the Lord’s tender love. We can trust that he will abundantly provide the strength we need to be gentle. His meekness is greater than our weakness.

Thank you, Jesus, for being a gentle shepherd who tenderly cares for his sheep. Help us to be gentle with others, just as you have been gentle with us. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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