In a world seeking to exalt everything but Christ, it can seem that the only way to fight fire is with fire. Yet gentleness makes the exact opposite claim.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” –1 Peter 3:15, ESV
Because gentleness stands out against the screaming crowds. The constantly offended will be muted in the face of a calm, gentle retort. Gentleness, after all, is the great draw God uses to bring people to Himself:
“correcting His opponents with gentleness, God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” –2 Timothy 2:25, ESV
If God’s tool for correction is gentleness, who are we to choose differently? Which is a bold statement to make. It remains far easier said that done, but take these encouragements. We can stand in gentleness because we are protected by far greater things than any defense we can fashion.
“You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your gentleness made me great.” –2 Samuel 22:36, ESV
“You have given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand supported me, and Your gentleness made me great.” –Psalm 18:35, ESV
We are protected, not by our inflammatory words, but by the very shield of God. His salvation seals us, protects us, and will be our joy. As we rely on it, we can stand boldly with a gentle spirit, knowing the Savior of our soul has our back.
And more than that, the passage in Psalm takes this support one step further. Not only does our shield of salvation protect us from damaging onslaughts, God’s very right hand supports us. It is no small thing to be at the right hand of the King. And that right hand moves, and points, and makes things happen, many of which we will never see or realize.
Standing in the protection of salvation, with our God moving His right hand on our behalf, we can strip away the fear, pride, anger, jealousy, and offense that can express itself in so many ways other than gentleness. We can allow the chains of those negative perspectives to clank powerless to the floor, as we allow the Spirit of God to change our own spirit into one like Christ:
“…by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…” –2 Corinthians 10:1, ESV
For gentleness is not an action. gentleness is a very way of being. It roots from the spirit and extends through every action, every thought, and every defense. It is that gentleness, from the Spirit of God, described in the 2 Samuel and Psalms passages above the lead to greatness.
Greatness in the eyes of men may come with a quick wit and a burning retort. Greatness in the eyes of God comes through a gentle spirit.