Reminder #6: Be Gentle
Remind them . . . to be gentle (Titus 3:1-2)
The leading New Testament dictionary of Greek words tells us that the word translated gentle means "not insisting on every right of letter of law or custom, yielding, gentle, kind, courteous, tolerant."*
Someone who modeled this well was a pastor by the name of John Newton. You may not recognize the name, but you will recognize him as the author of the West's most beloved song, Amazing Grace. The grace of God transformed Newton from a hardened and profane slave trader into a compassionate and tender pastor, first in Olney, England and then, later, in London. He once said, "[The Christian] believes and feels his own weakness and unworthiness, and lives upon the grace and pardoning love of his Lord. This gives him an habitual tenderness and gentleness of spirit."**
When God's life-changing power began to pulse through Newton's veins, the old sailor became meek and compassionate. This was most obvious in his life in the way that he cared for the people in his church, particularly his good friend William Cowper. Cowper, a well-known hymn writer, suffered from crippling depression much of his life. Much of what he was able to write was owing to his good friend and pastor, John Newton.
Newton's own transformation and attitude about gentleness serves us as a fine example. We should guard against the error that sees this virtue as reserved only for mothers or people who are soft. Gentleness is a manly virtue as well for it was modeled by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29, ESV)
He didn't simply claim to be gentle, he lived it. It can be seen in him as he tenderly lifts a child to his knee or when he lovingly confronts a Samaritan adulteress who has come to draw water. Each and every day, he deals with us gently and asks that we do the same with our fellow man. May we seek, along with Newton, to model a habitual gentleness of spirit.
* William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 371.
** The Works of the Rev. John Newton, Vol. 1, p. 170