Are you a water coconut or an avocado pear? A water coconut has a rather hard exterior. Chop off the top with a cutlass and inside is soft tasty meat and delicious nutritious water. The outside of an avocado is soft and squashy. Within is a heart of stone. Which are you?
We are told the secret of why David was a man after God’s own heart. In the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hand of Saul, he sang this song: God is my strength and power: and he makes my way perfect. You have also given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness has made me great.1
What was true of David was even truer of his greater Son. Truly happy are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth, is the teaching of Jesus Christ.2
Tenderness in men is a quality that the world despises. I know so many men that are afraid to be gentle and to show tenderness. Their ego and macho image get dented and they are ashamed to be thought of as sissy and effeminate. So they over-react by being domineering and bullying. It is so sad when this is seen in a brother of Christ.
When I was a young woman in the city of Kingston, Jamaica, I never saw couples showing tenderness to each other, even at home. It was just not the thing to do. Those who dared to show a little gentleness, like my husband and I did sometimes, were gaped at in amazement. Attitudes are a lot healthier now, but even so there’s an awful lot of boastiness, and women especially get roughly treated by menfolk.
For men who feel that tenderness is a form of weakness to be avoided and suppressed, here is a short list of men who are specially identified in the Bible as gentle and who showed tenderness to others, including their womenfolk: Shechem, Hosea, Paul, David, Jeremiah, Job, and above all, Jesus. You could make a much longer list if you wanted to make the effort.
I know of fourteen passages in the gospels and epistles where tenderness and gentleness are explicitly commanded. See if you can find these, and there are almost certainly more. It is hard to be tough and feisty after we have read all these.
Jesus’ love for women was always tender. They could trust him always to be gentle, never to go too far and breach propriety. They may have done so, but he was always tender yet firm in his reactions and responses. I just love the story where we read that Jesus went into the bedroom where the young girl Talitha was lying in a deathly sleep. He took her by the hand and said to her, Young miss, I am telling you, get up! Immediately the girl stood up and walked.3
Many women nowadays want to be tough, not tender and gentle. ‘I’m not going to be treated as a doormat,’ is the cry. Of course, you should never be treated as a doormat, at any time or for any reason, that is for sure. But the Scriptures encourage gentleness and tenderness in women. The apostle Peter wrote of the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.4 I believe he was right. I know some women with that kind of beauty. It’s just marvellous to behold.
In her passion of love, the wife in the Song of Songs begs the wine of her husband’s love to flow gently.5 So it should always be.
Mary Eyre [asleep in Jesus]. [From her forthcoming book, “Love in the Bible]
1 2 Samuel 22:33,36.
2 Matthew 5:5.
3 Mark 5:41.
4 I Peter 3:4.
5 Song of Songs 7:9