5. Gentleness and Self-control
Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! (Philippians 4:5)
Gentleness is controlled strength which may best be understood in contrast with what it is not.
Read the following verses and list the things the Bible says are not congruent with gentleness.
· Colossians 3:19
· 1 Timothy 3:3
Is your boyfriend free from bitterness or harshness toward you or others?
What evidence do you see of this?
Consider Proverbs 13:2. Then think about the things your boyfriend reads and watches in movies and on television.
Does he delight in, crave, or exhibit fascination with excessive violence?
What evidence do you see of this?
The things that go into a man’s mind will eventually be reflected in his speech and actions.
Have you observed violence in any of his speech or behavior?
Explain your answer.
Men, as a rule, tend to be naturally more aggressive than women. This is not a bad thing—it propels them to be good providers and protectors for their families and helps them to be competitive in the work force. But when their aggression becomes a craving for excessive violence or brutality, that is a warning signal that it has gotten out of balance and could at some point put you or your children in danger.
Do not be deceived into thinking that a man who is harsh or violent in his treatment of other people will not eventually treat you in the same way. Being “in love” is only a temporary cushion from established negative behavior patterns. Do not marry a man who treats other people in a way that would be offensive or hurtful if it were you—in time, it will be you.
Gentleness will be evident in both the actions and the speech of a godly man. In the following verses, list what can be accomplished by gentle speech.
· Proverbs 15:1
· Proverbs 25:15
· 1 Peter 3:15-16
Then answer these questions:
· How does the man in whom you are interested respond to someone who is angry?
· Does he use gentle words to persuade others (particularly those in authority over him) to think or act in agreement with his desires or opinions, or is he bossy and demanding?
· Is his Christian testimony gentle and respectful?
Jude 14-16 describes judgment that will come to men who speak harshly instead of gently.
What are the characteristics of what God defines in these verses as unacceptable speech?
Which of these characteristics have you heard in your boyfriend’s speech?
Read Ephesians 4:2.
What character qualities are close companions with gentleness?
If you see evidence of humility and patience in a man, it is very likely that gentleness will continue to grow in his life, as well. If these qualities are markedly absent in his nature, do not expect him to develop gentleness.
Jesus is a perfect example of the blending of humility and gentleness. Read His words in Matthew 11:29.
What is the outcome for a man who aligns himself with Jesus and learns from His example?
For the grace of God . . . trains us to reject godless ways
and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright
and godly lives in the present age . . . . (Titus 2:11-12)
Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. In this passage, the apostle Peter lists self-control (not complying with evil urges) as one of three things that enable us to walk in holiness.
What are the other two (verse 13)?
Peter defines how “obedient children” exercise self-control. What does he say (verses 14-15)?
This is similar to the apostle Paul’s admonition in Titus 2:11-12 to “reject godless ways and worldly desires.” Let’s take a look at some of the godless ways and worldly desires that can tug at a man.
Each of the following passages from Proverbs defines an area in which Christian men are urged to maintain self-control. Write them next to the Scripture references.
· Proverbs 6:23-24
· Proverbs 29:11
· Proverbs 17:14
· Proverbs 18:13
· Proverbs 23:4
· Proverbs 18:2
· Proverbs 10:19
· Proverbs 9:13
· Proverbs 23:20-21
· Proverbs 25:17
· Proverbs 14:16
· Proverbs 11:12
Now answer these questions about your boyfriend:
· Does he agree with the Bible’s teachings about restraint from sexual immorality?
· When have you observed him restraining his anger?
When have you observed him giving full vent to his anger?
· Can he let a quarrel die, or must he always have the last word?
Can he ever let someone be “wrong” for the sake of peace, or must he argue every issue?
· Does he hear you out fully when you are trying to tell him something?
· Is he obsessed with getting rich?
How do you know?
· Must he always give his opinion?
· Does he talk too much, monopolizing most conversations?
· Does he say things that are inappropriate?
· Does he sometimes embarrass you by being too loud or brash?
· Does he frequently drink enough alcohol to have a hangover the next day?
Does he consistently overeat?
· Does he have the good judgment to not “wear out his welcome” with people he knows?
· Does he turn from evil, or does he play at its fringes?
Does he endanger himself or you by doing reckless things?
· How often does he demean or ridicule other people?
We all have need for improvement in one or more of these areas. Self-control is neither easily developed nor effortlessly maintained, but it is a character quality that a Christian should be willing to strive for and become better at. Think about whether or not you see evidence in your boyfriend of growth—or at least an awareness of his need to improve—in each of the above areas, as well as in other areas that you have observed.