< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Gentleness

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It’s a medical fact that people who have friends live longer. It’s also pretty much a given that in order to have friends one must be friendly.

We have to be likeable. One of the most likeable qualities the Bible says there is, is “gentleness”. Two people in the Bible are called gentle; Jesus and Moses. The Greek word used for gentleness in the New Testament means “strength under control.” Gentleness is controlling your reactions to people. Another choice. We choose our response to people rather then simply responding.

The author says there are six types of people we all come in contact with and we can practice gentleness with each.

Type 1 – The people who serve you.
Restaurant workers, clerks, employees, bank tellers… are we indifferent and impersonal? Rude? Or do we get to know their name and maybe even their story? Do we understand they may have had a hard day too?

Type 2 - The people who disappoint us.
Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted”

The temptation Paul refers to is the temptation to be judgmental. To be “holier then thou.” And that’s the wrong response for a Christian toward a brother or sister in Christ who is struggling with sin. We set ourselves up for Satan’s attack in our own areas of weakness the moment we beginning to judge others. Why should we work at not being judgmental? Because that’s the way Christ has treated us. Romans 15:7 tells us, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

God puts up with a lot from us! The more we recognize His grace to us, the more gracious we can be to others.

Type 3 – The people we disagree with.
Some people will argue with us or contradict us in everything we say. How should we respond? We can retreat in fear, react in anger, or respond in gentleness. Gentleness requires a fine balance between maintaining our right to an opinion while equally respecting another’s right to one. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Type 4 – People who correct you.
James 1:19 tells us what to do. It says we should be teachable. People can always learn. Nobody has all the answers and we shouldn’t get defensive if someone makes a suggestion. We should also admit when we’re wrong.

Type 5 – People who hurt you.
Again we should choose our action. Gentleness is the ability to handle hurt without retaliating. Jesus called it turning the other cheek. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. We just need God’s power to live this way and He gives it to us in the fruit of gentleness.

Don’t let other people control your emotional state. The person who has control of his moods is strong.

Type 6 – Unbelievers
Respect them, don’t reject them, our attitude when we share the Good News has a lot to do with whether people accept it or not. Start with loving the person.

One of the most positive benefits of being gentler is a more relaxed lifestyle. One reason many people experience burn out is they always demand their rights. They judge others. They have to prove their point. They are unwilling to learn from others. They react to situations with fear and anger. They don’t treat others with respect or dignity. God can help us be more gentle.


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