Time Out: Power under control

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Do you remember the chant from childhood: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” It isn’t true. Everyone has sometimes been hurt by words. We are hurt by lying words. We are hurt by unkind words. We are hurt by angry words. Words can hurt us. That’s why God wants His people to be gentle.

Gentleness is possibly the most misunderstood virtue. Many people think of gentleness as being weak, timid, or passive. This is not the biblical understanding of gentleness. The Greek language in which the N.T. was originally written, was a precise & expressive language. When the Greeks developed a word, they not only gave it a careful definition, but they almost always illustrated it. Their definition of gentleness was “power under control,” and they illustrated it with the picture of a horse that had been tamed. Gentleness to them was a powerful animal with its power completely under control. Have you ever watched a 2000-pound horse pull logs? That big, strong Belgium horse was strength under control.

For example, water that’s under control would be water rushing through a dam turning turbines, generating electricity to light a city. Water out of control would be a flood destroying everything in its path. A disease out of control can devastate the body and kill its victim. But a disease under control can produce vaccines & save thousands of lives. So when you think about gentleness, think about power under control, anger under control, our emotions under God’s control.

The Life Application Bible states concerning gentleness: “Gentleness—Humble, considerate of others, submissive to God and his Word. Even when anger is the appropriate response, as when Jesus cleared the temple, gentleness keeps the expression of anger headed in the right direction. Gentleness applies even force in the correct way.”

The fruit of kindness is showing love and compassion to others. Goodness is an inner spirit of love and holiness that show itself in doing that which benefits others. Gentleness, then, is tenderness but not weakness. It is power, but power under control. Examples would include Jesus’ dealings with the woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8 ) and Zacchaeus the moneychanger (Luke 19).

DeSales once wrote, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness,” and “Nothing is so gentle as real strength.” When you are producing the fruit of the Spirit you will find you are strong enough to be gentle. What a perfect picture of Jesus. What a wonderful goal for us!

1 Timothy 6:4, “…he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions.”

1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”


  • Think of some times when others showed you gentleness. How did it feel? How were you affected?
  • Think of some times God has been gentle with you. Thank Him for it.
  • Who do you know that needs gentleness but doesn’t deserve it? Will you commit to show them gentleness anyway?
  • Who can you show gentleness towards today? Make plans as to who and how you can show gentleness.

Jerry SchmoyerJerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on May 17, 2009

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