J. Upton Dickson, who brands himself as a Christian humorist, joked after writing a pamphlet called “Cower Power,” that he was thinking about founding a society called D.O.O.R.M.A.T.S.
It is an acronym for “Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls.” Their logo would be a yellow caution light. And their motto would be “The meek shall inherit the earth…if that’s okay with everybody.” Of course, Upton quipped, the society didn’t last very long when someone objected!
Unfortunately, Dickson’s humor is far too often the view that many people have regarding the quality of our word of the week, gentleness. Gentleness appears to be a characteristic that is undesirable in our rough and tumble world. Maybe that is because we don’t understand it.
Greek scholar, Henry Thayer, says that the Greek word refers to “disposition of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” The word is often translated “meek.” “Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation.”
The usage of the word, “pratues” in Greek literature provides some insight into the depth and meaning of the English words “gentleness” or “meekness.”
Xenophon used this word to describe a wild horse that had been tamed, but whose spirit had never been broken. The horse was still lively, vigorous and energetic, but under control and useful.
Plato, in writing of a victorious general who spared a conquered people, spoke of him as “meek.” Yes, he had won victory, but allowed them to live and thrive, when he could have annihilated them.
Socrates said that a gentle person is one who can argue his case without losing his temper.
The ancient philosopher Aristotle used this same word to depict someone who’s upset at social injustice. However, their anger does not degenerate into revenge, vindictiveness or retaliation.
Gentleness, then, is strength under control. It’s the passionate person, unwavering in his conviction, yet gentle, kind and magnanimous.
Gentleness is the attitude with which we deal with a fellow Christian overtaken in some sinful action. The Bible admonished, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Gal. 6:1, ESV)
Gentleness is the kind approach we use in teaching the truth and correcting error. The apostle Paul admonished the young evangelist Timothy, “Be the But kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25).
Gentleness diffuses conflict with the right response. The wise man’s advice works. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Gentleness is following Jesus and imbibing His character. Jesus is described as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:28). When Jesus came into Jerusalem the last week of his life, he fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” (Matt 21:5). When Paul had to rebuke the Corinthian church he said that he wrote to them “in the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor 10:1).
Jesus was gentle in his dealing with the woman taken in adultery. In forgiving the sinful woman in Simon’s house. In talking with the Samaritan woman at the well,.
Jesus was gentle in his compassion for the multitudes who were weary and scattered. In his patience with Peter. In his forbearance with the “Sons of Thunder.”
Jesus was gentle when Judas came to betray him. When the soldiers arrested him. When Peter denied him. When the Sanhedrin spit on him. When the Romans crucified him.
As Jesus’ disciples, we are called to a spirit of meekness and gentleness. In our attitude. In our actions. In our relationships.
Indeed, “nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength. (Francis de Sales)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman