Most Christians assume gentleness, or gentility, describes a person who’s calm, kind, tender, sweet, meek, and nice. You know, like a horse who’s been “broken”—who’s been trained to accept a rider, usually by breaking the horse’s will. After centuries of descibing the horsebreaking process as “gentling” them, that definition has subtly crept into our definition, and too many Christians now assume a “gentle Christian” is nothing more than a doormat.

The original word is pra’ýtis. (In some dictionaries, pra’ótis.) It refers to emotionally stable behavior. You know, the sort of temperament we want to see in a tame animal. They’re not passive and quiet one minute, then tearing through your throat the next. Unlike some humans. And some Christians.

Gentleness is a form of self-control. Specifically, it’s self-control over our emotions. We won’t let our zeal, our excitement, our anger, our sadness, anything, take over our lives. We might feel all sorts of things, but we get ahold of ourselves and do what’s right, not what feels right at the time.

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