Gentleness is a character trait that is valued and highlighted in the Bible in many different places and many different ways, the most impactful probably being in Matthew 11:28-30 when Jesus invites us to serve with Him, ”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
During the time of Jesus, farmers would train a young ox to pull a plow or wagon by yoking them up with an older experienced ox. The older one would do most of the work, but the younger one soon learned how to pull and work by walking with and working with the older and more experienced ox.
”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Wow, that is such an attractive invitation. Almost everyone is ”weary and heavy-laden,” and the promise is that Jesus will give rest to those who come to Him. The invitation to ”come to Jesus” is an invitation to be yoked up with Him, to walk with Him, to work with Him, and to learn from Him, then we will find rest for our souls. What do we learn when we spend time with Jesus? We learn to be gentle. Not many people make ”learning to be more gentle” a personal goal in life, especially not many men, but it appears to me that it is the acquisition of gentleness that results in a weary free life of rest that Jesus promises.
There are many very counter-intuitive principles in the Bible which God declares to be the normal when He said, ”My ways are not your ways, nor is your wisdom My wisdom.”
The more we grow in the character trait of gentleness the more restful our souls will be. ”Rest for our souls,” what exactly does that mean? I like to take ”rests” periodically during the day, and the harder I am working the more frequent the rests. The purpose of a rest is to get re-energized. Jesus said, ”I will give you rest”, or another way of saying it, ” I will give you energy, strength, passion, vision, drive.” When?
Gentleness is a relational character trait, that is, you do gentleness with people. Gentleness is being quick to forgive, not answering rudeness with rudeness, not paying back hurt for hurt, working at making people feel special, appreciated, and valued.
So, the simple, counter-intuitive principle is this; ”When we choose to be gentle with another person, God who sees and hears everything rewards us with strength, but if we act grumpy, irritable, return rudeness for rudeness, and are insensitive to those around us we become weary.”