Friends came to visit the other day with four children, and I found myself saying “be gentle” a lot around Raphael and my instruments. Most kids don’t ask to play my piano, they just begin banging away. What they don’t know, and likely wouldn’t care, is that my piano is an heirloom. It was custom hand carved in Ontario in 1901, has been fully restored and holds significant value to me because of who gave it to me.
This led to pondering what is really important as far as breakable things, so the next morning I looked up verses that deal with gentleness. The first one was Philippians 4:4
Let you gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.
In our individualistic expressionistic culture, gentleness is not something we hear about often, but it is something that sets a person remarkably apart.
The Bible tells us a gentle answer turns away wrath. It is not human tendency to respond to wrath or anger with a gentle answer. David told me of an incident where he was taking significant verbal abuse from some one who had come to work for him. Rather than returning heated words, he responded, asking;
“What is your name?”
Taken aback, the other stopped and asked; “What?”
“What is your name?” David repeated.
In the midst of the angry tirade, David firmly extended dignity, offering a relationship to work from, rather than simply fighting around a problem and the situation resolved peaceably.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure and peace loving, it is always gentle… (James 4:17)
As I thought about gentleness, Jesus showed me a picture through my heirloom piano of how He feels about His children. Each is custom created and holds significant value to Him – far more value than the rarest instrument and He desires gentleness to mark my dealings with each one.
The broken vessels always seem to have the sharpest edges and must be handled the most gently. I have come to realize it is the same with people. I never cease to be amazed at the gentleness with which Jesus interacts with the broken, outcast and lost, flying in the face of culture’s disregard for those outside the circle.
If we are listening when interacting with people, we would hear Jesus say – “please be gentle – that person holds significant value to me.” He is near, waiting to pour gentle grace into my every encounter others if I will see with His eyes.
To be undergirded with gentleness does not mean to be walked on or to turn a blind eye to wrong, rather, it is an undercurrent, directed by wisdom and strength that sees beneath the surface of the masks we wear and says; “I see you, and I care about the person beneath the mask”
We are to be gentle when gentleness does not come naturally. To be part of mending the brokenness we all carry in a way that reflects accurately, the One who cares the most.