Gentleness

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

 

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:14-16

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

 

I have used the words, “I am just speaking the truth in love” quite often, and you may have done the same. These words are almost always used in a way to tell someone some ‘truth’ they don’t know, or are uncomfortable with (you think!). It pretty much always comes in a condescending way, and the sad thing is, we know it. I think we have these verses in Ephesians incomplete in emphasis and meaning.

 

Having taught us that we are not to be tossed about by teachings which are cunning, crafty, deceitful, and scheming, the next words are “instead, speaking the truth in love we will become the mature body of Christ”. It follows that this is a call for believers NOT to be like, or copy the others, but to be more like Jesus. Paul takes the theme further in Galatians, and says gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. We need to let that sink in! And long before Paul’s epistles, Solomon reminds us that “A gentle answer turns away wrath”. The theme throughout Scripture is clear and unambiguous.

 

This verse may be better rendered as “speaking the truth OF love” as this gives a clearer indication that our speech should be more like our Master, Jesus. We know that “God is Love”, and Jesus is “the Truth”, so in speaking truth OF love to others, it should always be God-loving, and Jesus-truthful. Even then sadly, for some Christians, that may be too difficult!

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