I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3)

In a world full of annoyances, frustrations, disagreements, misunderstandings, and short tempers, disciples of Jesus have been called to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel. One dimension of that calling is gentleness. Look at the words that surround “gentleness” in the God-breathed verses above. Humility. Patience. Bearing with. Love. Eager to maintain unity. The bond of peace. It is an urgent calling to fulfill a beautiful ideal and it cannot be realized without gentleness.

“Gentleness” isn’t always the first word on my mind when I haven’t gotten my way. “Gentleness” can seem a million miles away when I’m irritated. “Gentleness” isn’t the spirit-fuel that seems naturally to course through my veins when I’ve been wronged or misrepresented. In those moments, of the many prophecies my Lord fulfilled, I need to remember this one:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matt 12:18-21)

I haven’t simply been encouraged to notice or even appreciate the gentleness of Jesus; I’ve been urged by the Spirit of God to follow in his footsteps, walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called. Gentleness is “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23), a sign of “walking by” the Spirit (5:16), a product of “keeping in step with” the Spirit (5:25), but it comes at a personal cost made clear throughout Galatians 5:16-26. The desires of the flesh–enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, conceit, useless provocation–these ugly passions and desires must be crucified if I’m going to belong to and walk with the gentle Christ.

Gentleness is “put on” by those who have dedicated themselves to holiness (Col 3:12). It’s a sign of gospel progress in the human heart and growth in Christ-like character. The gentle man or woman has waged war on childish foolishness (Tit 3:3) and is manifesting maturity in the determination to “speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (3:2).

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Tit 3:3)

All of which is to say, gentleness doesn’t “come naturally.” Gentleness is a choice. The choice to put to death what is earthly in me (Col 3:5). To walk the self-denying path of a gentle Savior who did nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility counted others more significant than himself.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:29)

There are more than 8 billion human beings on this planet, and with human beings come annoyances, frustrations, disagreements, misunderstands, and tested tempers. Doesn’t sound much like a soul at rest, does it? Which is why Ephesians 4 continues to urge us. Discipline yourself for gentleness. Model gentleness. In word and deed, teach gentleness. Promote gentleness. Speak and post and comment and react with gentleness. Bear with one another in gentleness, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Take the yoke of gentle Jesus upon you and learn from him. He can lead your wearied, vexed soul toward rest. The rest of gentleness.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:30)


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