Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
We are moving through a series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. One week ago, we took an extended look at the compassion our Lord commands us to wear; this week we have examined kindness and humility. Today we will move on to the fourth article in our divine dress code: gentleness.
Gentleness is the exact opposite of harshness and belligerence, something that, sadly, many are losing sight of in our world today. Too many people are living by the maxim, “Might makes right,” no matter who gets hurt along the way. Yet the Old Testament prophets told us that gentleness would be one of the marks of the coming Messiah:
- He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:2-3)
- See your king comes to you . . . gentle and riding on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9).
To be sure, there were times when dealing with the self-righteous Pharisees that we do not see a “gentle” Jesus. But with those who were hurting, broken, and desperate for deliverance, we do see the gentle Jesus who “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).
The world we live in is filled with bruised people who need us to reflect that same gentleness to them. Indeed, we are commanded to “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). And that includes being gentle with those we might think don’t deserve our gentleness. Those who wrong us or disagree with us are included in that “all” of Philippians 4:5, and we simply do not get a vote. We are to let our gentleness be evident to all, especially when we would rather not. Does this not reflect the gentleness of our Lord, who was “pierced for our transgressions,” who was “crushed for our iniquities,” and who took “the punishment that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5)—He who died on a cross for us even when we were alienated from God and enemies of His in our minds (Colossians 1:21)?
One of the best ways to manifest this gentleness is to consider all the ways in which God is gentle with us, especially when we know we do not deserve it. So important is gentleness to God that church leaders are admonished to continually reflect it, being “not violent but gentle” (1 Timothy 3:3) to those God has placed in their care. If we are speaking the truth in love, we will speak with gentleness, and our message will be far better received than browbeating others into accepting it.
Here is what we must remember: If anything about us is offensive, let it be the message of the Gospel itself, not the way in which we share it with others. This attitude was beautifully exemplified by John the Baptist, who said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). When Jesus is increasing in our lives, we will be decreasing, and our divine dress code of gentleness will become more and more evident to all those we come in contact with in the words we speak and the actions we perform. We will “the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) to people who desperately need to know that sweet Savior!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!