How to become more gentle
A five-step plan for letting the fruit of gentleness grow in your life.
Have you ever been around new born babies? If so, you know how important it is to be gentle with them.
When my youngest son was born, our then four-year-old wanted to play with his baby brother the same way that he played with his older brother—rough and tumble. My wife and I often had to remind him that he needed to be gentle with his baby brother. When hugging, he shouldn’t squeeze him. Instead of poking, he needed to give gentle touches.
Just as my son had to learn to treat others in a gentle manner, we need to learn God’s desire for us to be gentle people.
What Does the Bible Say about Gentleness?
As we reflect on the biblical view of gentleness, we see a prime example in the life and ministry of Jesus. So often Jesus demonstrated gentleness to the least of these—people who were often outcasts or misfits. The woman at the well (Jn 4:1-26), the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11), and the healing of blind man (Jn 9:1-12) are just a few examples where Jesus displayed gentleness through compassion to others.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 7:11-17. In this passage, Jesus raises to life the son of a widow. Here’s where the story picks up:
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
Notice, Jesus’s “heart went out to her” and he told her not to cry. Our hearts should be like the heart of Jesus, who took the time to be gentle and compassionate to this widow in her time of need.
Throughout the Bible we’re commanded to be gentle. In the letter to the Galatians, Paul tells us that when we see a person caught in sin, we are to “restore that person gently” (Gal 6:1, NIV). Paul then tells us that we should “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2, NIV). In another letter, Paul tells his young apprentice, Timothy, to correct those who oppose the truth in a gentle manner (2 Tim 2:25). Similarly, Peter tells Christians who are being persecuted to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks”; yet, they are to do so with “gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15).
How Do I Do This?
Having looked to God’s Word, here are some practical steps that can help as we seek to live a life of gentleness?
Step 1: Read through some of the stories of Jesus’s interactions with people, such as the woman at the well (Jn 4:1-26), the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11), the healing of the blind man (Jn 9:1-12), or the widow of Nain (Lk 7:11-17), and focus on how Jesus treated people in his everyday interactions.
Step 2: Reflect on those times when people have treated you harshly, and then reflect on instances when people treated you gently. Write down how those experiences made you feel.
Step 3: Think on times when you had the opportunity to respond in a gentle way to others but didn’t. Perhaps, it was with a classmate, friend at church, or a sibling. If you haven’t already done so, ask God to forgive you of those instances in your life.
Step 4: Come up with an action plan on how to demonstrate gentleness in your life. List out specific ways.
Step 5: Pray and ask God’s Spirit to lead you to a more gentle way of interacting with your family, friends, and schoolmates.