What about correcting the wayward?
The Master’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
2 Timothy 2:24–25
It is to our advantage to have a gentle attitude toward God because He is omniscient, and we are not. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” God challenges Job. “Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). God knows everything of the past, present, and future (1 John 3:20); we can’t even get the weather forecast right. Like a petulant teenager to his parents, we may cry out, “You just don’t understand!” but God does understand, more than we could possibly know.
When we are filled with the Spirit’s fruit of gentleness, we will correct others with easiness instead of arguing in resentment and anger, knowing that their salvation is far more important than our pride.
- We will forgive readily, because any offense toward us is nothing compared to our offenses against God—offenses He’s already forgiven.
- Competition and sectarianism will disappear, as the goal becomes less about ourselves and more about preaching the gospel.
- John the Baptist was a fiery preacher, yet he evinced true gentleness when he said, “[Jesus] must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).
Gentleness also means giving up the right to judge what is best for ourselves and others. God is not as concerned with our comfort as He is concerned with our spiritual growth, and He knows how to grow us far better than we do. Gentleness means that we accept that the rain falls on the evil and the just and that God may use methods we don’t like to reach our hearts and the hearts of others.
Finally, to live in a spirit of gentleness toward God is to accept His judgment on people and issues. We tend to think it is gentle to go easy on people and try to justify actions that God has called sin. Or to let someone continue in sin without speaking the truth. But Paul says, “If anyone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). This doesn’t mean to be so soft that the sinner doesn’t realize he’s sinned. It means to confront the brother in a manner that is in line with Scripture—to be mild, loving, encouraging, and clear about the holiness that God calls us to.
- Galatians 6:1 — 1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
- 2 Timothy 2:24–25 — 24 The Master’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
How about in reasoning with unbelievers?
- 1 Peter 3:15–16 — 15 but sanctify the Messiah as Master in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in the Messiah will be put to shame.
And in nurturing new believers?
- 1 Thessalonians 2:7 — 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.