The English word “soft” does not appear often in the Bible.

In the Book of Proverbs, written possibly around 100 years before Lao Tzu, the biblical wisdom writer used the word “soft” twice and like Lao Tzu connected it with strength.

To be soft, according to the wisdom writer of Proverbs, is to have the power to overcome anger:

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

And, softness can break the power of tyranny and oppression:

With patience a ruler may be persuaded,
and a soft tongue can break bones. (Proverbs 25:15)

Although the word “soft” may not appear often in the Bible, the concept of “soft” is common, carried in the Bible by the word “gentle.”

The biblical writers identify gentleness first of all, and perhaps surprisingly to some people, as a characteristic of God:

The prophet Isaiah says it is with gentleness that God leads the people of Israel:

He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
   he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
   and gently lead the mother sheep. (Isaiah 40:11)

God’s leading comes “gently” which may be why at times it is difficult to discern. But, even though it may be hard to clearly sense God’s gentle hand guiding, the Psalmist suggests that it is “gentleness” that makes us “great”:

You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.(Psalm 18:35 ESV)

This greatness depends upon us coming into an open, spacious place.

You gave me a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.(Psalm 18:36)

Gentleness does not come with loud thunder and flashing lights. It emerges quietly, subtly, from deep in the hidden inner recesses of the human heart. If I am going to live responsively to the gentle leading of God, I am going to need to put aside some of the distractions and preoccupations that take up so much room in my life. Gentleness is nurtured in the rich soil of quiet and stillness. It manifests when I put aside for a moment the aggressive agendas, needs, wants, and demands that so often drive my life.

To be gentle, is to be present and open to what is.

Richard Rohr says, “When you learn to be present, you will know what you need to know.” Gentleness is connected to God’s leading, because when I am gentle, I am open to what is. Truth emerges from within the realities of my circumstance.

So gentleness must not become one more agenda, another make-work project, added to the list of achievements I seek to accomplish. Gentleness, as understood in the Bible, is not a quality I can generate myself. I do not have the capacity to create gentleness. It is a gift:

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness. (Galatians 5:22,23)

Paul sees that gentleness is a quality of Christ:

I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:1)

This Spirit of dwells in us:

you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. (Romans 8:9)

As people in whom God’s gentle Spirit dwells, we we will naturally manifest the Spirit of gentleness when our lives are open and responsive to this Spirit. Our task is to open the space for our true nature to emerge. Gentleness is simply present when I stop trying to assert myself over life. Gentleness is found in the land of trust. The Spirit of gentleness manifests in and through my life when I am surrendered to the truth and beauty that are my true and gentle nature.

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More gentleness texts:

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:1,2)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5)

Gentleness is my true nature as a being created in the image of God who is gentle. The more I am conscious of the Presence of the divine, the more the gentleness that is within me will be “known to everyone.”

be ready for every good work, speak evil of no one, avoid quarrelling, be gentle, and show every courtesy to everyone. (Titus 3:1,2)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. (James 3:13)

Gentleness is connected to wisdom. Wisdom comes from my awareness that I am not the author of my own life. I am not the source of understanding, guidance and life-giving direction. Wisdom has the humility to know that all my life is a gift. When I understand that life is all gift, I am more present to the reality of what is and gentleness comes forth in my life.