If there is any quality that is conspicuous by its absence today, perhaps it is gentleness. Though this is a precious and beautiful trait, it is sadly rare. I recently read (and highly recommend!) J.R. Miller’s short work A Gentle Heart, and in that book I came across this convicting passage which reminds us of the source and model of our gentleness.
There was gentleness in the world before Jesus came. There was mother love. There was friendship, deep, true, and tender. There were marital lovers who were bound together in sacred union. There were hearts even among heathen people in which there was gentleness almost beautiful enough for heaven. There were holy places where affection ministered with angel tenderness.
Yet the world at large was full of cruelty. The rich oppressed the poor. The strong crushed the weak. Women were slaves and men were tyrants. There was no hand of love reached out to help the sick, the lame, the blind, the old, the deformed, the insane, nor any to care for the widow, the orphan, and the homeless.
Then Jesus came! And for thirty-three years he went about among men—doing kindly things. He had a gentle heart, and gentleness flowed out in his speech. He spoke words which throbbed with tenderness. There was never any uncertainty about the heartbeat in the words which fell from the lips of Jesus. They throbbed with sympathy and tenderness.
The people knew always, that Jesus was their friend. His life was full of rich helpfulness. No wrong or cruelty ever made him ungentle. He scattered kindness wherever he moved.
One day they nailed those gentle hands to a cross! After that the people missed him, for he came no more to their homes. It was a sore loss to the poor and the sad, and there must have been grief in many a household. But while the personal ministry of Jesus was ended by his death, the influence of his life went on. He had set the world a new example of love. He had taught lessons of patience and meekness which no other teacher had ever given. He had imparted new meaning to human affection. He had made love the law of his kingdom.
As one might drop a handful of spices into a pot of brackish water, and therewith sweeten the waters—so these teachings of Jesus fell into the world’s unloving, unkindly life, and at once began to change it into gentleness. Wherever the gospel has gone these saying of the great Teacher have been carried, and have fallen into people’s hearts, leaving there their blessings of gentleness.