Strength And Gentleness

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It's the strong hand—not the weak one—that must learn to be gentle.

We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children1 Thessalonians 2:7.

Imagine being able to watch the apostle Paul in action. How did he treat people, especially those who often failed? In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul gives us a glimpse of how he treated others: "We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children."

Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others' weaknesses and limitations. A gentle person still speaks truth, sometimes even painful truth, but in doing so guards his tone so the truth can be well received.

Puritan leader Jonathan Edwards called gentleness "the Christian spirit." Edwards said, "All who are truly godly and are real disciples of Christ have a gentle spirit in them."

The Bible goes out of its way to demonstrate Jesus' gentleness. In fact, the Old Testament depicts the Messiah as unusually gentle, telling us that Jesus would not break a "bruised reed" or snuff out a "smoldering wick" (Isaiah 42:3). In the gospels, Jesus affirmed His gentleness: "I am gentle and humble in heart" (Matthew 11:29). And the apostles often reminded the early Church of Jesus' gentleness: "By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you" (2 Corinthians 10:1).

Unfortunately, too many people equate gentle with weak. Unless you would call the heroic apostle Paul, the fiery Puritan Jonathan Edwards and the almighty Christ "weak" individuals, it is clearly a misunderstanding to assume weakness has anything to do with gentleness.

In fact, the reverse is true.

When my sons were young, they used to love to squeeze my hand as hard as they could, trying to make it hurt. They could squeeze with all their might, but it never hurt. They didn't need to be gentle because they lacked the power to cause me any pain. Then, just for fun, I'd give their hands a tight little squeeze until they yelped.

It's the strong hand—not the weak one—that must learn to be gentle.

LORD, Teach me to be strong, yet gentle.  Help me to never confuse gentleness for weakness. Thank You for Your gentleness with me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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