A Gentle Spirit
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
~ Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)
If you walked down the street and asked five people what they thought the word gentleness meant, how many would say that a gentle person is docile, easily intimidated or passive? Or that gentleness would be a good quality for a pet or a horse? In our culture, assertiveness and forthrightness are more highly valued personality traits for human beings than gentleness.
But the Scriptures value gentleness. Here Paul explains what it means to be virtuous, especially in view of the disputes that had arisen among the Philippians. How were they to build unity? First, they were to rejoice. If they concentrated on rejoicing in the risen Christ, they would focus on their common joy rather than on the differences that could divide them. Next, they were to “let [their] gentleness be evident to all.” Gentleness carries the idea of being reasonable. It does not mean that truth is compromised; rather, it means that the truth is defended with thoughtful consideration for the other’s point of view. In other words, the people involved come to a meeting of the minds. There is a winsome quality in gentleness that diffuses anger and hostility.
A supervisor named Ann was gentle. She never raised her voice and never threatened. She had a steady calm about her. She smiled while explaining to vendors or employees exactly what was expected of them. She clearly stated the consequences if they didn’t fulfill their obligations. But her subordinates never seemed defensive or discouraged; rather, they worked hard to live up to the expectations she laid out.
Paul reminded the Philippians that the key to peace was grateful prayer. He admonished them to give their every anxiety over to God as they gave thanks (verses 6–7). More than that, Paul encouraged his readers—including us—to focus on things that are beautiful, pure and positive (verses 8–9). Meditating on such things develops our ability to notice and appreciate small beauties and increases a sense of thanksgiving to God. A spirit of contentment and gratitude brings peace.
A woman who speaks words of encouragement and has an attitude of contentment is inviting; she draws people to her, even if she faces times of crisis and pain. When your gentleness is evident to all, others will know that the Lord is near and they, too, will rejoice.
Dear Heavenly Father, Please give us a gentle spirit, and remind us to handle each other with care. Whether we’re having a good day, or the weight of the world is bringing us down, may we be tender and loving one to another. May our words be gentle, our actions be kind, and our thoughts always tender and pure. Let us be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, looking to You as our perfect example. For You, oh Lord, are holy and just, gentle and kind. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.In Jesus,
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Devotion taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible.
In our culture, assertiveness and forthrightness are more highly valued personality traits for human beings than gentleness.