Gentleness is Strength
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).
I am blessed to have so many good friends. I enjoy talking with them and spending time with them, but I probably learn the most by watching them. I have seen many of them go through rough patches, but through it all they remain calm. Some people foolishly interpret their gentleness as weakness. These men are gentlemen. They are gentle, men, and very strong. There is no truer form of strength than gentleness.
A common theme throughout Scripture is the need to surround yourself with good people. This is important because we tend to pick up habits and attitudes from those that we are with. Just as “iron sharpens iron” so can dirt dull iron. The Apostle Paul warns us of such “dirt” in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (emphasis added), “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
When we are with argumentative and rude people, there is a good chance that we will take on those characteristics. For instance, if somebody gets angry with you, you get angry back. If somebody is really miserable and you hang around that person long enough, you get miserable too.
The Bible offers a different way to respond: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). A sign of true strength is when another person raises their voice is to lower yours. When you do that, you’re demonstrating strength under control.
Another word for strength under control is gentleness. Gentleness defuses conflict. It de-escalates anger. A gentle person does not overreact and is not driven by their emotions. A gentle person is showing one of the precious and beautiful Fruits of the Spirit.
The Greek word in the Bible for “gentleness” is the word prautes. Some older English translations of the Bible translate prautes as “meek.” The word “meek” isn’t used much anymore because meek has become a synonym for weak. But gentleness—or prautes—is anything but weak.
In fact, the word prautes was used to refer to a wild stallion that had been tamed. Think about that image. A wild stallion has tremendous brute strength but can be dangerous and unpredictable. But if you tame that stallion, it’s still just as strong, but the strength is brought under control. The strength is bottled up for the master’s use.
When you learn true gentleness, you don’t become weak. You just bring your strength under God’s control and use it for His purposes.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the teaching of Proverbs 15:1. Help us to tap into the strength of your Spirit to respond to rudeness with kindness. Amen.
Meet the Author
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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