Not the powerful, strong word you would expect to choose for your word of the year.
As I determined my one word for 2021, gentleness was the word that seemed to be continually calling from the list of words I was using. (1) Usually, a word for the year has encouraging and inspiring connotations, like purpose, change, or even forgiveness.
Yet, as I pondered and prayed, gentleness was the word that kept coming to my mind. How would “gentleness” work as a Word of the Year??
You may be familiar with a well-known verse in the Bible, (2) seen on many wall hangings and gifts, which lists the godly characteristics we are to show in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Many of these attributes are self-explanatory, but about gentleness? One Bible website explains that gentleness is the “quality or characteristic of being kind, tender, mild-mannered, compassionate, and considerate. It is to show love and care for others in the way you act and speak. To have a gentle spirit or nature about you.”
And for more definition, there are many synonyms for gentleness: agreeability, amiable, good-natured, good-tempered, gracious, personable, pleasant, sweet, benevolent, warm, patient, tolerant, flexible, merciful, understanding, generous, and courteous.
While many people pair gentleness with weakness, nothing is further from the truth. Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch, just as it is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. (3) As you read through the Gospels, Jesus portrays gentleness again and again as he healed the sick, helped the oppressed, and taught his disciples. There is no greater example of gentleness than Jesus, who said that he was gentle and humble in heart (4) yet also showed gentleness with strength and self-control.
Gentleness is also an important characteristic when it comes to our words. Strength and self-control are needed to speak words with gentleness: those words that are affirming, encouraging, and life-giving. Gentleness can often diffuse anger. Proverbs 15:1 says that a “gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Gentleness is needed to speak the truth, even painful truth, with love and empathy.
Do I want to be more like Jesus? Yes. And as He was gentle, so I want to be the same. What better word to focus on in 2021 than gentleness!
7 more verses about Gentleness:
“… walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love. (HCSB)
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (HCSB)
“You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (GNT)
1 Timothy 6:11
“Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (NLT)
1 Peter 3:15
“Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect. (GNT)
“To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”
“But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy.” (GNT)
1..I used the One Word exercise, a free download in 2018 from Christian writer Margaret Feinberg’s website
2. Galatians 5:22-23
3. The Strength of Gentleness – Focus on the Family
4. Matthew 11:29
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