During his ministry to the Gentiles, Paul was unfairly assailed by character assassins. They attacked not only his teachings but how he taught. Some in Corinth accused him of being weak in person and strong in letter.
In addressing this indictment, Paul appealed to the character of Christ. Paul mentions the “meekness and gentleness” of our Lord (2 Corinthians 10:1). To some, Paul’s gentleness was a flaw. To Paul, it was an imitation of God.
In his great invitation to the masses, Jesus called “all who labor and are heavy laden” to come to him not because he was strong, but because he was “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:28-30).
When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, he rode in as a king to a coronation. Scripture appealed not to his might, but to his gentleness, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (Matthew 21:5).
What does gentleness mean? Does it mean we stand for nothing and accept anything?
A survey of Jesus’ ministry will disabuse the honest heart of such a misunderstanding. Jesus boldly proclaimed the truth, often standing alone. He confronted and corrected the religious leaders over their hypocrisy and abuse of God’s word.
Those who carry the name of Christ, must stand for Christ and his truth.
To the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Timothy was told to “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of my witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
Shepherds must “hold firm to the trustworthy word” and be able to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), for there are many who “must be silenced” (Titus 1:10).
Yet, in all that, Christians are called to gentleness. Gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). We are to receive the word with meekness or gentleness (James 1:21). We are to spread the word with gentleness (1 Peter 3:15). We are to defend the truth in gentleness (2 Timothy 2:24, 25).
In a world of meanness, crudeness, boastings, and belittlings, those who have put on Christ, must guard their minds and hearts. We must control our words.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
How do we stand strong for the truth, while maintaining a gentle disposition?
Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to prevent him from becoming conceited (2 Corinthians 12:7). In response to his request that it be removed, Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Therefore, Paul said, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
Herein is the secret to gentleness and steadfastness. Of ourselves, we take no account. We bear insults, offenses, and hardships. We trust not in ourselves, but in Christ. We depend upon his power, goodness, and salvation.
When we are gentle, we lose nothing, and gain everything.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).