“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” – Philippians 4:5
Last week we discussed one thing most of us deal with in some way during the Christmas season–something that can keep it from being a joyful time and also cause problems in our marriages. That one thing is stress. And we looked at solutions to stress that God provides for us in His Word. Hopefully this will help us handle all the pressures of a busy season and enjoy the celebration.
Well, this week as we draw nearer to Christmas, we want to discuss something else we relate to Christmas–something that can make our marriages and the holiday even more enjoyable and meaningful. That word is gentleness.
The word gentle is often connected to Christmas. Many Christmas hymns, for example, speak about gentleness.
One such hymn is “Gentle Mary Laid Her Child.” It was written in 1859 by Joseph Simpson Cook, a Canadian minister in the United Church of Canada. The music he used for his song dates back to 1582. (The lyrics and a link to the song can be found below. I think you’ll recognize the music, if not the song.)
Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:23 which we all receive as believers in Christ.
Paul also tells us in Philippians 4:5: “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near” (bold mine). Having a gentle spirit demonstrates to the world that we are followers of Christ because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It shows “all men” that “the Lord is near” to us.
Gentleness is a constant theme in Paul’s letters to the churches he cared so much about. He urges us in Ephesians 4:2 to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” And he writes in Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (bold mine).
In the conclusion of his letter to his young protégé in 1 Timothy 6:11, Paul writes: “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” And in his final words to another co-worker he writes in Titus 3:1-2: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” (bold mine)
I’m sure you get the point. Gentleness is very important to Paul…and to God. In fact it is so important that in God’s inspired Word, Jesus Himself is described as being gentle. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” God inspired Paul to write in 2 Corinthians 10:1: “By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you” (bold mine).
Gentleness is not a word in the original Greek language of the New Testament that is used to refer to someone who is weak or a pushover, as it often is in our culture. Paul, the early disciples, and other Christians in the infant church certainly were not those things. The word here means fair, fitting, proper, and appropriate. But it also means able to bear up under difficulties, calmness and strength under God’s control, inward grace, and the acceptance of God’s dealings in our lives, whatever they are, because they enhance our relationship with Him.
The biblical meaning of gentleness can be found in God’s promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When we believe this and live like we believe it, we will be gentle. It means we are calm, full of grace–inward and outward, and we accept what God brings and allows in our lives. We do this because we truly believe that God is in control, wants good for us, and will bring about good in our lives and our marriages.
Here is a key to this: It is not what we want or what we think is best that matters. It is what God knows is best for us. We are finite; He is infinite. We have limited knowledge and understanding; He is omniscient (all knowing). We have very limited power; He is omnipotent (all powerful). When we really believe this, we will be gentle. We will live in complete trust of Him in our lives and our marriages.
That is why Jesus was gentle. His life was completely in the Father’s hands. And so will ours be–if we give our lives to Him. When we truly accept, believe, and live like this, then we can be gentle–like Christ.
Men, do you want to be gentle with your wives? Ladies, do you want to be gentle with your husbands? Do you want to be gentle with your children, other family members, friends, and others? In other words, do you want to be Christ-like? I pray you do. It’s what God says in His Word that He wants us to be.
How do we do this? We go back in God’s Word to Philippians 4:5: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” We tend to hurry through the part that says “the Lord is near.” But that is the key.
Having a gentle spirit is not “normal.” But much of what God calls us to do is not “normal” by the world’s standards. It can only happen when the Lord is near…God with us.
We must follow God’s instruction through James 4:7-10: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
When we draw near to God, give our lives to Him, and live by the truth of His Word, Satan will flee from us, and God will clearly lead us. Then He will make our marriages the beautiful relationship He has designed and we desire. Together as husband and wife, we will be His instruments of gentleness and grace. And this will show the world what the Lord does in our lives and will draw them to Him.
How do we become these instruments of gentleness? It has to start with giving our lives to Him through faith in His Son Jesus. After all, that is what Christmas is really all about.
(If you have never given your life to the Lord Jesus, please learn more by reading Meet Jesus.)
Once Jesus is our Lord, then we must study God’s Word together, pray together, and serve Him together.
Men, I urge you based on God’s Word to lead in this. I guarantee you that you will not be sorry. (If you need some suggestions in doing this, check out this post on Couple Connect or download our free ebook here: Couple Connect – A Simple Weekly Plan to Stay Close for a Lifetime.)
Gentleness. The world needs to see the gentleness of Jesus. He is our prime example–as a baby and as a man. And He leads us to be gentle, as He is.
As we seek to be like Him, God will lead us to have a beautiful marriage. Our Christmas season will be blessed–full of gentleness…both in this season and beyond.
Questions for Discussion
- Read this week’s teaching together. Share what God taught each of you through it. Make sure to concentrate heavily on His Word that is in the teaching.
- Do you see yourself as being gentle the way Scripture describes it? Ask your spouse if she or he views you that way. If not, pray and ask God to help you to be truly gentle. If you are, then pray together and ask God to help you continue to be gentle and grow in your gentleness.
- Which of the things mentioned at the end of this teaching do you need to do this week to become or grow in your gentleness? Share this with each other, and ask your spouse to pray for you to help you follow through on it. Help hold each other accountable, including discussing how you do when you have your next Couple Connect time.
- Close your time with prayer for each other. Share praises and challenges you face in the coming week so they can be part of your prayers.
Next week will be our Christmas teaching. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart with you.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Roger Davies via flickr (CC BY 2.0), cropped/text added.