If you are upset, afraid, or in pain and someone treats you harshly, how do you feel? How do you want to respond?
If you are having a terrible time and someone responds to you gently, how do you tend to respond then?
Gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit all believers are to exemplify in our interactions in our marriages, with our children, with other believers, with unbelievers, and even with those who oppose us.
My husband’s gentleness melts me
I can think of so many times when I had PMS and was really upset, or when I was crying a lot, or when I was in tons of pain, and Greg just gently pulled me into a hug.
He could have gotten angry. He could have been irritated. But he wasn’t. He was calm. Steady. Warm. And welcoming.
When he uses his strength to wrap me in a tender embrace, my heart melts. My fears begin to dissolve. My tears slow down.
Gentleness is powerful. It’s powerful in a husband’s love. Or a wife’s love. It’s healing. It’s disarming. It nurtures intimacy and oneness.
What is gentleness?
First of all, it’s not weakness. Weakness doesn’t have to be gentle. It can’t do harm. It has no strength or power. It is the strong who must learn to be gentle and to control their strength so that they do not harm others.
Gentleness is also not niceness. Being nice means we do good things to others to protect ourselves and we don’t stand up against wrong. If we are nice, we are agreeable people pleasers who don’t ever want to rock the boat. Gentleness can stand up against evil but it does so with respect, honor, and loving intent.
Gentleness is not wishy-washiness. It’s not about being a doormat or wallflower.
Gentleness is submitting my strength and my will to the Lordship of Christ.
Gentleness is many things:
- A powerful hand with a soft touch.
- Tenderness and compassion.
- A choice prompted by love.
- Kindness and courtesy.
- Unwilling to attack others.
- Bold yet careful.
- Not manipulative.
- Part of holiness and godliness.
- Humble, not desiring to draw attention to self.
- Seeking to bless others in their weakness instead of taking advantage of them.
The opposite of gentleness is:
- Rudeness, manipulation, or disrespect.
- Harshness, meanness, or malice.
- Baseness or wildness.
- Cruelty and unkindness.
- Violence, aggression, abuse, or brutality.
- Sharpness, coldness, or evil.
- Resentfulness and divisiveness.
Gentleness in marriage
As wives, we don’t have the physical strength our husbands do, usually. We depend on our husbands being gentle with us physically so they use their strength to help us and make our lives better and safer. We also depend on our husbands not being harsh with us so we can feel safe with them and thrive. (1 Pet. 3:7)
We have great strength in our words, even if we may not be as strong physically. Let’s be careful to use our words to build up, bless, encourage and speak life to our men and others. Let’s never use our words to attack, tear down, and destroy. When we treat each other with gentleness, the Lord is honored, oneness improves greatly in our marriages, and others are drawn to Christ in us.
The gentleness challenge
For the next three days, let’s invite God to help us respond to others with gentleness with our husbands (and children and others)!
- Avoid raising your voice, even if others do.
- Use a calm, gentle tone of voice.
- Whisper if you feel like yelling.
NOTE: Hopefully it goes without saying, don’t ever hit, shove, push, or physically attack your husband or anyone else. Don’t threaten physical harm. Don’t throw objects or destroy furniture or kick or punch doors or walls. If anyone in your home is physically dangerous and out of control and others aren’t safe, please reach out for help.
What does the Bible say about gentleness?
- (A wife’s beauty) Let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, 1 Pet. 3:4
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
- Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Phil. 4:5
The power of gentleness
We don’t win people to our side or our point of view by being harsh, accusatory, critical, or angry. If I blow up at my husband or others and lose self-control, my words lose their power. I forfeit having a strong influence. But gentle words have great power of persuasion.
Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.Prov. 25:15
Gentleness draws people to us and to Jesus! It makes people put down their defensiveness and take down their walls. It lets people know they are safe with us in every way. It is essential for real intimacy, trust, and relationship.
Gentleness is something beautiful Jesus calls us all to live out in our everyday lives. He was the all-powerful, omniscient, eternal Creator and King of kings. And yet, He humbled Himself to be gentle with us in our weakness.
I’m excited to study more about this incredibly valuable virtue. It’s one of God’s greatest spiritual treasures and He wants to share it generously with us.
We can’t do this in our weakness but as we yield to His Spirit, He can give us the power of gentleness.
What if I mess up?
If you are doing the gentleness challenge and mess up, what can you do?
My suggestion is:
1. Immediately stop and apologize for being harsh, raising your voice, or whatever you did that you didn’t want to do. (Without justifying yourself.) “I apologize. I just responded harshly.”
2. Say, “That is not how I want to talk to you. I want to respond gently. I’d like to try that again.”
3. Do it the way you really believe represents how God would like you to respond.
4. Repent to the Lord and invite Him to help you.
If you stumble, recognize it, correct it, and get right back up, focusing on Jesus and welcoming His Spirit to have control.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.Prov. 28:13
You’re welcome to comment if you want to join me!
How does your husband’s gentleness impact you? How would you define the quality of gentleness?
Have you got any wisdom about being gentle you’d like to share?
Would you like to share an example of a time God empowered you to respond gently and it made all the difference?