Treating others gently

My friend posted this on Facebook today. I thought it was really good. It’s from Jerry Bridges’ book The Fruitful Life.

The Fruitful Life

Learn from me, for I am gentle.
(Matthew 11:29)

A profile of gentleness as it should appear in our lives will first include actively seeking to make others feel at ease, or “restful,” in our presence. We should not be so strongly opinionated or dogmatic that others are afraid to express their opinions in our presence. Instead, we should be sensitive to others’ opinions and ideas. We should also avoid displaying our commitment to Christian discipleship in such a way as to make others feel guilty, taking care not to break the bruised reed of the hurting Christian or snuff out the smoldering wick of the immature Christian.

Second, gentleness will demonstrate respect for the personal dignity of the other person. Where necessary, it will seek to change a wrong opinion or attitude by persuasion and kindness, not by domination or intimidation. It will studiously avoid coercion by threatening, either directly or indirectly (as Paul, for example, avoided it in his appeal to the Corinthians).

Gentleness will also avoid blunt and abrupt speech, instead seeking to answer everyone with sensitivity and respect, ready to show consideration toward all. Gentle Christians do not feel they have the liberty to “say what I think and let the chips fall where they may.” Instead they’re sensitive to the reactions and feelings of others. When gentle Christians find it necessary to wound with words, they also seek to bind up those wounds with words of consolation and encouragement.

Finally, gentle Christians will not degrade or belittle or gossip about the brother or sister who falls into some sin. Instead they will grieve for him or her and pray for that person’s repentance. If it’s appropriate to become personally involved, they’ll seek to restore the person gently (Galatians 6:1), aware that they too are subject to temptation.

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