- Gentleness (Greek: Praos)-
Eph 4:2 - Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Matt 11:29 - I am gentle and humble of heart…
In Greek, the word for gentle implies “tame”. When we think deeply about the difference not just between a panther and a donkey, but between a wild horse and a “tame” one, a wild rabbit and a pet rabbit… What is the difference? Taming a wild animal doesn’t make it lose its intelligence or logic or desire to run free, rather, it’s a matter of Trust and Willingness.
A wild animal does not trust humans to be near it or to touch it. It may have some curiosity about humans or it may not. Even in those who do, it takes time and skill to develop trust between the two. But a tamed or “gentled” animal has not only lost its fear that we will harm them, but is willing to cooperate together. Sometimes this relationship is so strong that an animal will wholeheartedly do anything, even to the point of death, very willingly, in order to do what its master/partner/friend has asked it to do, so fully does it join its will and devote itself to that one person. That is part of what the Bible means when it speaks of “gentleness”.
The purpose of our lives is to be ‘gentled’ into such a relationship of trust and devotion and oneness with Almighty God that all our energy and will is used for doing exactly what He asks of us… like forgiving, loving to the point of selflessness, knowing our God at all costs, etc.
I think it is important to avoid confusing gentleness with total passivity in emotion, thought or deed. Bland mindlessness or denial of emotion may fulfill the scriptures admonishing against strife, human wrath and jealousy, but it actually tends toward giving the soul over to nothingness, eventually leading to an inability to desire even God or to cling to Him, as we are also commanded to do.
Rather, the energy and joy used in loving-no-matter-what-the-cost is partly what keeps patience and forbearance from becoming mindlessly submissive to everything, and keeps the strength and firmness from being harsh, and keeps the righteousness from being condemning. True gentleness is a mixture of gentleness, strength, wisdom, passion, joy, understanding, faith, obedience and love. The blandness of being “neither hot nor cold” like the Laodiceans is only one of infinitely many pitfalls in this temporal life, but there is hope that by delving into the shades of meaning of concepts such as gentleness, righteousness, humility, power, grace, mercy - and all the things we are commanded - as well as the effects of putting them into practice, we may learn much about our God, and enlarge our ability to passionately love Him and worship Him with much more of our soul. Jesus truly is gentle and passionate in His submission to the Father, and His love for us is completely, all-wise, all-willing and all-giving.