Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
No doubt there is much confusion in our society about what a man really is. On the one hand a real man is supposed to be the testosterone-filled, steroid-enhanced, all brawn and little brained brute that is a lean, mean fighting machine. On the other hand, a real man is characterized as the emaciated, emasculated, flaccid and weak male who lives out of his inner woman. To say that a real man is gentle is to conjure up pictures of the latter, never the former. Yet Jesus was and is the embodiment of a real man; and Jesus was gentle. Jesus was neither the brute nor the wimp. In fact, many, if not most, definitions and pictures of Jesus fail to describe him as he truly is described in Scripture. He was and is the real man, and he is gentle.
That might be hard to chomp our mental teeth into because we tend to think of Christ in our image and imaginations. Yet when we consider that Jesus is also the God-Man, Creator of the universe, commander-in-chief of the extraterrestrial beings, a mighty warrior, emperor over all rulers, Savior of mankind, and then think in terms of him being gentle, the exercise is enough to sprain our brains!
What does it mean to be gentle? The idea of gentleness, a very important quality in a Christ-like man, is that of being gracious, kind, considerate, mild, patient, and reasonable. Gentleness, according to what God says, is akin to meekness. To be meek is to be endowed with humility and to have a self-controlled power and strength. God, the Omnipotent One is gentle (2 Sam. 22:36; Psa. 18:35; Isa. 40:11; 42:3; 2 Cor. 10:1), and Christ is meek (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 11:29; 21:5; 26:52). In fact, Jesus Christ is both (2 Cor. 10:1).
If you are in Christ as a true believer, then the real man is being formed in you. That means you are becoming quite the gentle man! The reason for this is that you are learning to think more like God, which makes you wise; and the wisdom God bestows is, among other things, gentle (James 3:17). The other reason for this is that you have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in you and the fruit of God’s Spirit is gentleness (Gal. 5:23; Phil. 4:5).
What does a Christ-like gentleman look like? First of all, whether you have been blessed with brains or brawn or both, as a real man you will display this essential and important quality. It means that as a gentleman you are caring, considerate and have the ability to sympathize. You are kind, which is not the same as being nice. Niceness is passive, but kindness is active. Kindness actively pursues positive good for others, just like Jesus (Matt. 11:29; Acts 24:4; 1 Thess. 2:7). You reflect care like a nurturing mother (1 Thess. 2:7). Further, you unquestionably demonstrate affection and good will toward others (Eph. 4:2).
Gentleness bears upon the way you communicate and relate with others. You show carefulness in choosing words and expressions so as not to unnecessarily offend (Gal. 6:1). Like Jesus, you reply to humble people with gentleness (1 Pet. 3:15). The quality of gentleness also means you are not abrupt or critical in your communications. You are approachable, and you are firm but diplomatic even when you confront your opponents (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:23-25). Therefore, you are not one who is harsh with words. You don’t vengefully lash out when you feel you’ve been hurt, or unjustly treated. Neither do you incite arguments, or alienate people through an attacking manner. You are not inclined to follow through with an angry temper (Prov. 3:30; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; 25:8; 26:17; Phil. 2:3).
Being gentle allows no room for abuse of any sort; particularly of the physical type. The Bible calls this being pugnacious (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7). To be pugnacious is to physically strike or slap someone else, and is often so because that person is a contentious and angry person.
Gentleness is a quality the godly leader is to pursue (1 Tim. 6:11) and to model (1 Tim. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:24; Ti. 3:2). Yet this characteristic of a real man is not merely for God’s leaders or men. Godly leaders and men are commanded to chase down and capture the gentle spirit (1 Tim. 6:11), but all who name the name of Christ are to wear it in our lives (Col. 3:12), and live life (1 Pet. 3:4) in such a way that it is obvious to all others that we are indeed a gentle people (Phil. 4:5).