Love – Part 3
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Looking at the quality of love that only God manufactures and that is essential to building relationships we need to understand what it means to be “gentle in love.”
The word for ‘gentle’ here is not something that consists only in a person’s outward behavior nor in our relationship to other people. It is something referring more to an inner work of grace in our soul. It is the type of spirit that accepts God’s dealings with us. It recognizes that what the Lord is doing is for our good.
It is what Paul said in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
It is through hardship, trouble and persecution that our good character is developed that is then conducive to building good and lasting relationships. It is the love of God and His working through our suffering that molds a character that can build relationships.
We all have seen and been around people whose personality grates upon us and we want to depart from such a person, but it is those that have a gentle meekness about them (self under control) that we can enjoy being around.
Colossians 3:12 says that we should “clothe ourselves with gentleness.” Although this is a meekness or gentleness towards God first and foremost – it is also an attitude towards other people and our relationship to them.
This word for gentle in the NIV and meekness in the KJV is hard to translate into English. The words have a sense of weakness to them, but in reality it is just the opposite. Vines says: “The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was ‘meek’ in that he knew he had the infinite resources of God at His command.” We do too!
Moses was the meekest man on earth, but when he came down the mountain with God’s Ten Commandments and saw the debauchery taking place among God’s people – he was anything but weak in confronting it and condemning their evil behavior.
The word used for gentle here is the opposite of being self-assertive or self-interested. The problems we have in relationships is that of being self-assertive and self-absorbed.
We see then in developing relationships how important this quality of love’s gentleness is. What steps are we to take? Perhaps I can suggest several.
- When God brings things our way that we do not like let us not argue and complain, but embrace and ask God for wisdom to show us what He is doing and wanting to accomplish in us through it.
- Recognizing that gentleness or meekness is not at all weakness, but really strength under control.
- Always keeping in mind the importance of good strong relationships.
May God continue to mold us in His image!