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What does the bible say about gentleness?

By Julia Fetherston

Gentleness, or as we might call it, humility and meekness, is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Looking at the Greek, Paul uses the word “prautēs,” which interestingly has the same root as the word Jesus used to describe those who will inherit the earth. It alludes to the balance between strength and control.

What does the Bible say about gentleness?

There’s no better example of gentleness and humility than the life of Jesus. Jesus, fully God, became fully man, exhibiting the highest form of meekness and humility this world has ever seen.

Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV) describes His gentleness: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

He also showed incredible gentleness as He interacted with the surrounding people. Jesus, in all His holiness, could’ve chosen to cast judgment on the sinners He encountered, but, instead, He made special efforts to extend gentleness to those who needed grace and forgiveness the most.

Some examples of this include His interactions with people of lower status in the ancient Jewish culture.

Jesus loved the outcasts

Jesus never shied away from people on the fringes of society. Even though most people hated tax collectors, Jesus embraced them—He even invited a tax collector to be His disciple! He showed ground-breaking compassion towards those with debilitating illnesses, impairments, or disabilities, and those fighting demons—people who’d been forced out of civilization.

He didn’t just stop at outcasts among His own people. He also ministered to a centurion, a Canaanite woman, and Samaritans. Jesus demonstrated the importance of loving and ministering to those not accepted into high society—the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40)—in stark contrast to the religious leaders’ contempt for anyone of lower standing.

Jesus listened to and empowered women

Seen as both socially and spiritually inferior to men, women were often looked down upon, especially if they were unmarried. Jesus was not a respecter of persons—someone who looked down on those of lower standing—but instead exhibited gentleness and compassion in how He treated women.

  • When the woman who’d been bleeding for 12 years touched His garment without consent, Jesus displayed gentleness in His response by teaching her about saving faith instead of casting her out.
  • When the prostitute poured the ointment on Jesus’ feet and washed them with her tears and hair, Jesus chose gentleness by defending her at the Pharisees’ outcry.
  • When the Pharisees brought an adulteress before Jesus and cried for her to be stoned, Jesus didn’t condemn her.
  • When Jesus encountered the woman at the well, Jesus ministered to her instead of casting judgment on her life choices.

Jesus also showed great compassion towards widows throughout His ministry. He taught women and let them serve when society wouldn’t entertain the idea.

Jesus embraced children

Annoyed by their presence, Jesus’ disciples attempted to keep the children away from Jesus. However, moved with love and compassion for them, Jesus instead chose to embrace them and pray over them. Jesus exhibited gentleness with these children, knowing that pushing them away would do more harm than good.

Jesus forgave His executioners

Even at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus continued to show gentleness in how He dealt with His accusers. He was tormented, beaten, scorned, and left to die—and yet His heart remained on the souls of the people inflicting pain on Him. In Luke 23:34 (ESV), Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus even extended forgiveness to the thief who repented on the cross next to Him.

How can we exhibit gentleness in our own lives?

Jesus’ life serves as a great example of how we should conduct our own life, but Paul also had great insights. In Ephesians 4:1-2 (NLT), he wrote, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle.” Even stuck in prison, Paul noted the importance of seeking peace and unity through humility, gentleness, and patience.

But how does that look practically? How do we put on gentleness in all situations, especially in a world that’s filled with so much wickedness and contention?

Romans 12:14-21 commands us to: 

  • bless those who persecute us
  • live in harmony
  • never repay evil for evil
  • live peaceably with all
  • don’t perform acts of vengeance
  • give generously to our enemies.

Much like Jesus, we can minister to people in ways we would’ve never imagined through our gentleness, humility, and meekness.

It sounds counterintuitive, but we’re called to respond to the wickedness around us with gentleness, regardless of how hard it is. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” See the word “tenderhearted” there? It means to be gentle in nature.

This gentle nature extends to how we deal with tension even with those closest to us. 2 Timothy 2:24 (ESV) says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

There’s power in gentleness. Much like Jesus, we can minister to people in ways we would’ve never imagined with this fruit of the Spirit. Today, make a conscious choice to respond with meekness, humility, and a gentle nature.

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Just like you make sure to eat a balanced diet, make sure you learn to grow the “good fruit” of the Holy Spirit. 

Julia Fetherston
Julia is a writer and storyteller with a passion to inspire others to live out the truths of the gospel. Her out-of-the-box thinking provides a unique perspective on biblical truth, and her mission is to relate those truths back to others.