I wasn’t the most gentle last night. My mom who I care for was watching the news and it was blaring. The dog was barking. And mom was mumbling. For the umpteenth time. With gritted teeth I asked for the remote so I could turn off the tv, tell the dog to be quiet, so I could hear her.
Yes. I was irritable. Almost half of every sentence that she speaks this action happens. She is watching the news. Dog is barking loudly. She is mumbling. It’s exhausting. And my irritability about dealing with this was waning. She felt my irritation and was hurt.
When we walk with gentleness and speak with gentleness, you can do many things. You can even take a knife and slit someone else open and cut into their organs and sew on them. A surgeon does this all the time. But if you came like a street hacking thug, it isn’t going to happen.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
For women gentless is “expected.” But this attribute also very much applies to men. In fact, it’s the same word used as a necessary qualification for an elder (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 3:2). So gentleness is something that is prescribed for all of us.
Making Gentleness Obvious
And it must be “evident to all.”
It’s one thing to say of someone, “they’re kind and gentle on the inside but they just don’t really know how to show it.” If you don’t know how to show it than it’s probably not kindness and gentleness.
It may be cross-cultural to be “gentle,” but it’s an attribute of a mature believer.
Gentleness for Everyone
I think that Paul added the “gentleness evident to all” in here because he really meant it to be for all. It could be because Euodia and Syntche offered such graces to others but not to their nemesis.
That’s true for all of us, isn’t it? We tend to show more patience, kindness and grace to those we like and to those we don’t like, are a pain or just difficult to be around, that gentleness is gone. And edginess comes in.
But Pauls says for us to be gentle “to all” and that is a theme throughout his letter. God’s kindness that flow through us are not specific to people we like or don’t like.
As the Scripture says, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:46).
For some people gentleness comes naturally. Then there’s the rest of us. Our lack of gentleness, or I should say my lock of gentleness, is often rooted in irritation, anger or just plain fatigue. Being gentle takes energy.
But is it worth it? Yes. Because it can restore one another. Heal another. And open the doors to life and conversation.
Can you imagine if sincerity and gentleness were practiced in most marriages?
Gentleness takes intentionality. It comes from the heart. And it comes with genuinely caring for the person in front of us.
Come. Let’s grow together in this.