Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Phil. 4:5

Let your gentleness be evident to all

Have you ever stopped to think about what gentleness might actually be, or have you been lulled into to thinking it has to do with fabric conditioners and washing-up liquids! I wonder what we'd use to describe the opposite of gentleness? Rough, coarse, abrasive.

In our modern-day self-interest driven society, the gentle people get pushed aside, overlooked and generally trampled on by others. At least that's what we are lead to believe. I'm not so sure that our society is any more self-centred than it once was. We give more, care more about the poorest people in the world, are more aware of the disparities that exist. Sometimes I think we just don't have the time to be anything other than selfish. We have to get to work, we have to get things done, we can't afford to hold the door open for the next person because it will cost us time, time we can ill afford to waste on such courtesies.

But the problem with gentleness is trying to define it. Paul qualifies gentleness with kindness, compassion and patience in Colossians 3, and with godliness, righteousness, faith, love and endurance in 1 Timothy. The one thing that must be said is that gentleness does equal niceness.

Gentleness may need to take a firm hand, it may need to be assertive, but it never forces or drives its point home. The gentle person pursues the truth whatever the cost rather than trying always to be liked.

So don't confuse Paul's challenge to let your gentleness be evident to all with the desire not to upset anyone and always to be thought of well.

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