The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start thinking about what to buy your spouse this year. As a young man lost in the department store, I thought “one size fits all” would be my salvation. That was only true until she tried to put it on. That’s when I learned better! This week, as I was doing a word study on “gentleness” (ἐπιεικής), I made some amazing discoveries that I would like to share with you today.
Gentleness has many sides. The New Testament describes a gentle person as someone who is “reasonable,” (ἐπιεικής). The Apostle Paul exhorts, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;” Philippians 4:5. Elders must be reasonable, (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 3:2) because, “The “wisdom from above” is “peaceable, gentle, open to reason.” It is one of the goals for a man of God (1 Timothy 6:11).
While “meek” may have a weak connotation in English, to the Greeks it described a strong man who was able to control himself. The Apostle Paul asked the Corinthians, “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Corinthians 4:21). Meek and gentle are often used as synonyms. “I entreat you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:1). It is part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23. When someone errs, we might be tempted correct them harshly, but a spiritual person “should restore him in a spirit of gentleness,” (Galatians 6:1. See also 2 Timothy 2:25). This calls for “humility and gentleness” (Ephesians 4:2). Again, Paul urges Christians to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” (Colossians 3:12). The result is “perfect courtesy,” (Titus 3:2). James asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” and challenges us to demonstrate that “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom,” (James 1:21). Finally, Peter says a Christian woman is adorned with “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious,” (1 Peter 3:16).
Gentleness is “kind” (Acts 24:4). For example, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus was a carpenter. Certainly, making yokes was a part of his craft. He describes himself as gentle. This is our word meek, and we can see meekness in action as Jesus lovingly fashioned each yoke especially for each animal. It was a perfect fit. It was easy. He didn’t mass produce “one size fits all” yokes!
Today, it is time to be kind.