‘…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.’ 1 Timothy 6.11
It is sometimes easier to define a word by mulling over what it does not mean or by considering the opposites! Gentleness is the opposite of forcing our views on others; it is not shouting at people or manipulating them in any way. There is something about gentleness that respects other people and treats them in the way that we would like to be treated ourselves. This is what we are told to pursue.
This is, of course, a picture of how Jesus interacts with us. We are probably all too aware of the things we think Jesus might say to us as he pulls a long list of our sins out from the folds of his robes and begins to lecture us about them one by one. Then he might go on to all the things we haven’t done that we probably should have done, and so it could go on. This might also describe what you would like to do to some people you know!
However, this is a long way from the truth and what Jesus says to all of us is recorded in Matthew 11.28, “Come to me . . . for I am gentle”. He does not invite us to come to him so that he can make us feel worse than we do already, nor so that he can clobber us for our sins and failings; but rather so that he can embrace us with the love of God, and love us to the place where he wants us to be.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission