STRIVING TO BE MORE KIND AND MORE GENTLE
Even people who do not profess a belief in either the Bible or Jesus have an appreciation for kindness and gentleness. Not a few of them practice both qualities. Surely God’s children, who long to have the heart of their Savior, ought to make every effort to be the most kind and gentle people that they can be.
The Bible portrays the God of heaven as being both kind and gentle. The Psalmist declared, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You” (Psalm 63:3). The prophet Jonah also acknowledged that Jehovah is “abundant in lovingkindness” (Jonah 4:2). Kindness is just part of His makeup. So is gentleness. King David praised God by saying, “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great” (2 Samuel 22:36).
When Jesus lowered Himself and lived on earth among humans, He was the epitome of gentleness and kindness. True, when the Jewish leaders showed that they were unwilling to listen to His truth and even attempted to hinder others from accepting His message, the Messiah was “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5) in confronting and exposing them. Yet, His kindness and gentleness never faltered.
When Martha ordered Jesus to tell her sister Mary to assist her in serving their guests, see how He gently called her, “Martha, Martha” (Luke 10:40-42). When a woman was brought to Him and accused of being an adulterous, see how He treated her with decency and kindness, even as He charged her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). Observe how the Christ dealt with Simon Peter after His resurrection. Peter had denied Jesus three times, and in a non-confrontational manner, our Lord asked Peter if he loved Him, thus giving the apostle a way to take a step in the right direction (John 21:15-17). We can, and should, learn a lot from how the Master approached and dealt with people.
In letters written to Christians, there are a number of instances when kindness is mentioned. “Brotherly kindness” (2 Peter 1:7) is one of the virtues that all Christians are to add to their faith, virtue, and knowledge. Further, it is written, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12). Those are not characteristics of weak people, but of those who are strong in character, striving to be the kind of man or woman that the Lord wants them to be. One of the things that kindness does is it causes us to be willing to forgive others: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). It would be fair for me to ask myself this question: “How much am I imitating the Lord’s model of kindness?”
And what about gentleness? It is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). Gentleness is part of our “walk” as a Christian, as it causes us to put up with one another: “With all lowliness and gentleness with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). It takes only a few seconds to read the words of that verse, but it takes a lifetime to mature into the constant, selfless practice of them.
We are not trying to impress people, but it is also true that the Bible instructs us, “Let your gentleness be known to all men” (Philippians 4:5). Even as Timothy had to deal with opposers of the truth who needed to repent, he was instructed to “be gentle to all” (2 Timothy 2:24,25) – not always easy to carry out, but always the right thing to do. Even as we approach a brother who has lapsed into sin and we want to help restore him, our efforts are to be carried out “in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).
What if we would start a “Be More Kind and More Gentle Campaign” in our homes? What a blessing we would be to each other! No one knows us better or loves us more than our spouse does. Yet, many of us have a whole lot of improving to do in the area of being kind and gentle in our dealings with each other. The same is true in the relationships between parents and children as well as siblings. Frustrations, disagreements, mistakes, and hurt feelings are going to happen – we are human, you know. But can we not all at least try to be more gentle and kind? And, remember, we need to do so unconditionally.
Let us try to show patience with that lost soul who is struggling to come to grips with the truth. Let us strive to be more kind and gentle with that child of God who is struggling with sin. Let us put forth our best effort to understand our brethren’s circumstances and the trials that they are facing. Let us give people the benefit of the doubt, thinking no evil and protecting our hearts from being suspicious of everything and everybody, recalling that love “does not behave rudely” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
In his inauguration speech in January 1989, the new president of the fourth-most-populated country in the world called on the citizens whom he would lead to be “a kinder and gentler nation.” Christians comprise a spiritual nation – “a holy nation . . . the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9,10). With authority that far exceeds that of an earthly political office, the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10), Who has preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18), calls on His disciples to be kind and gentle. Who among us does not need to make improvement and be more consistent in these areas?
If we have fallen short in these areas, how wonderful that we have a God who is willing to forgive us as we turn from our faults (1 John 1:9).
— Roger D. Campbell