Gentleness or meekness does not mean being weak or a doormat like so many seem to think! Rather it’s a humble strength that comes from learning to lean on God and acknowledging that you need Him. It’s the opposite of pride. I’m excited to share this article by Kris Hage on gentleness with you today and pray God will help us all develop this amazing fruit of the Spirit.
The following article on gentleness is reprinted with permission of Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators and the author, Kris Hage. It originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of The Paper MACHE (now called Homeschool Now Minnesota). Visit MACHE.org.
GENTLENESS ~ also known as MEEKNESS
By Kris Hage
In past issues of the Character Corner, we have been focusing on one fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 each time we are together, and we have come to the next to the last one—gentleness. What a vivid contrast we have in Minnesota to the gentle and meek Spirit of God, when all around us we have seen hatred and violence! These are uncertain days when our children need more than ever to know Almighty God. That is why it is vital for us to learn about his character together!
Do I have to be Weak to be Meek?
Gentleness—can you picture a mother with her new baby or a ewe with her new lamb? How about a gentleman (a gentle man) opening the door for his wife, or a heart surgeon finishing his work on a patient? If you have more than one child, you have probably said, “Please be gentle with your baby sister (or brother)!” Most of us have some experience that shows us what gentleness means, but what on earth is meekness? Being gentle in our treatment of others is one part of meekness, but meekness in the Bible is a whole lot more.
Here’s what Webster’s Dictionary from 1828 says (back in the 1800s they often used the Bible in definitions):
MEE’KNESS, noun Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations.
1. In an evangelical sense, humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness; opposed to pride, arrogance and refractoriness. Galatians 5:23. “I beseech you by the meekness of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:1.
“Meekness is a grace which Jesus alone inculcated, and which no ancient philosopher seems to have understood or recommended.”
(Here’s Webster’s definition of “inculcated” since that is not in most of our everyday vocabularies: “To impress by frequent admonitions; to teach and enforce by frequent repetitions; to urge on the mind. Our Savior inculcates on his followers humility and forgiveness of injuries.”)
Noah Webster was the man who wrote Webster’s Dictionary and he loved God and knew the Scriptures. Jesus is gentle and meek. That, of course, is why the fruit of his Spirit is meekness and he often urged his followers to be meek. This is the opposite of what the world tells us to be. No philosophers—the world’s “wisest” men— recommend meekness. We are supposed to believe in ourselves, be self-confident, self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-everything! But God wants us to have our confidence in him—GOD is our sufficiency! Meekness is not weakness—it’s relying on God instead of ourselves. Isn’t that a great help for homeschooling parents?
Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.2 Corinthians 3:5
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
Exploring God’s Word
Of course, Jesus Christ is our ultimate example of gentleness or meekness. Here are a few scripture verses to discuss with your family, praying together that he will work the same attitude that Jesus had in all of you: Philippians 2:3-8, Matthew 11:28-30, 2 Corinthians 10:1.
As followers of Christ, we are commanded to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” showing the fruit of his Spirit in what we say and do. Read Romans 13:14 and Colossians 3:12-13. Let any of your readers also find the commands in Ephesians 4:1-3, Titus 3:1-2, James 1:19-22, and 1 Peter 3:3-4.
Another example of meekness we can learn from is found in Numbers 12:1-8 where God says that Moses was the meekest man on the earth! Since any study of Moses’ life shows us that he displayed great power as he trusted in God, meekness is certainly not weakness.
David also practiced the gentleness of Christ. God calls him a man after his own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14. One of the places we see this is in his encounter with Nabal and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:2-35. Abigail displayed great meekness and spoke gently to David, even being willing to take the blame for her husband’s wicked actions toward David and his men. Nabal had a very proud and unloving heart—the exact opposite of a meek and gentle spirit.
When Jesus was on this earth, he taught his disciples about this meekness—gentleness—humility of heart that is good soil for his word to grow in. They were together on a mountainside in Israel, so we call it “the Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus sat down, like the rabbis who taught the Scriptures in those days; the students stood. Quite the opposite of most of our teaching situations today!
At the beginning of this teaching, Jesus listed eight blessings we can have when we follow his ways (Matthew 5:3-10). In Greek, the word “blessed” is makarios (mah-kah’-ree-os) and it was a common saying in Hebrew and Aramaic. Literally, they would say, “Oh, the blessedness!” or “Oh, how happy!”
Blessed—oh, how happy—are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.Matthew 5:5
Putting It Into Practice
Be-attitudes instead of Me-attitudes
Use your favorite Pinterest craft ideas to help instill God’s unselfish attitudes in your family. These crafts make a great tool to help us learn, memorize, and put into action the beatitudes from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:3-10.
Running with Meekness Not Pride
Eric Liddell, missionary to China and 1924 Olympic gold medalist, lived out meekness even though he had much to be proud of. Share three short stories with your family from Eric’s life in Hero Tales (see Resources below). Eric is a great hero to emulate as he put Philippians 2:3-8 into action! For some great summer phy-ed, you can even put together your own family Olympics with contests and prizes of your choice. Older children may also enjoy the movie made of Eric’s Olympic fame, Chariots of Fire (1981).
Behold, the Lamb of God
In the animal world, the lamb is often seen as having very gentle and meek characteristics. Jesus is called the Lamb of God, since he offered himself as the sacrifice that satisfied God’s righteous demand for the payment for your sin and mine. Pop some of your favorite popcorn and while you enjoy a treat together, let your children glue some pieces on to the “wool” of a simple outline of a lamb that you draw or print off the computer. Share insights together about the gentleness of lambs and Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away our sin and becomes our Good Shepherd (read John 10:1-18).
Finding Your Way Around in God’s Big Book
Use our study of Moses as a springboard to learn the books of the Old Testament (and the New Testament, too). Moses wrote the first 5 books, Genesis through Deuteronomy. Wee Sing Bible Songs (weesing.com) has the books set to music or you can use handwriting or computer keyboarding practice to aid in memorizing the order of the 66 books.
Download a free lesson from the Gentleness chapter in Growing the Fruit of the Spirit
Please share any ideas you have for helping your child grow in gentleness in the comment section!