“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow [pursue] after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness [gentleness]…” 1 Timothy 6:11
We live in an angry world. Everywhere you turn, the wrath of man is poured out upon others through venomous speech and harsh tones. Things worsen when that anger becomes an action of physical abuse. Anger happens in the grocery store, at a restaurant, on the highway, at the office, in the classroom, on the sidewalk, in the gym, on social media, and, sadly, at home.
Over the years, meekness and gentleness have been considered a sign of weakness. Was the Lord Jesus Christ a weak man (Matthew 11:29; 21:5)? Was Moses weak (Numbers 12:3)? The obvious answer is no.
How would you characterize a gentle father? Let’s allow the Word of God to explain that one.
A gentle father speaks to his children in non-abrasive language. Proverbs 25:15 makes the point that a soft tongue breaks the bone. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was this: “You can draw more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” Often a father thinks he can command respect and obedience with a loud, punishing voice. Sadly, that fatherly response too often ends up breaking the child’s spirit rather than the child’s will. Indeed, fathers at times need to be firm in their tone, but they never need to be abusive or harsh.
Our speech is to be Spirit-filled (Galatians 5:22), full of grace (Colossians 4:6), not quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24), bridled (James 1:26), and a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4).
A gentle father is known for his sweet reasonableness. James 3:17 tells us that the wisdom that is from above is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
Being a father sometimes requires you to be the judge, prosecuting and defense attorney, jury and bailiff all at the same time in the midst of a sibling squabble. Hence, a gentle father is willing to listen to all involved, be reasonable, be flexible without compromise, and ready to offer biblical counsel that is from above. A meek dad does not act as a know-it-all.
A gentle father is to his children like God the Father is to us. Hosea, in speaking of God’s love and Israel’s restoration, says, “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them” (11:3-4). Here God is shown as a parent teaching His children how to walk, exercising compassionate discipline, removing harsh burdens from them, drawing them to Himself in love, and bending down to meet their greatest needs even in their sin.
Dad, are you an angry father or a gentle father? Ask your wife. Ask your children. Most of all, ask your Heavenly Father. You are never more like Christ than when you are gentle (Matthew 11:29).
To Think and Pray About…
- Anger is all around us; when did you last encounter an incident of anger that might have been managed differently and better?
- You well know how you may be tempted to deal with your family in anger rather than with grace and gentleness. What specific strategies will you employ in future to avoid abrasiveness and to demonstrate sweet reasonableness?
- As a dad, you have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate something of what God the Father is like in His dealings with His people. Think of two or three areas in which you might intentionally demonstrate godliness in real life to your family.
This chapter was written by Pastor Dale Cunningham.
Taken from The Extraordinary Father. CLICK HERE for more information.