A Quiet and Gentle Spirit

1 Peter 3:4, “rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God“. (NKJV)

Peter here is giving words of instruction to women in the context of their apparel and how they are to present themselves to others.  Peter taught them to focus more on their inward adornment than their outward.  He taught them that what is on the inside is more valuable to God than what can be seen on the outside.  While it was to women that Peter was addressing these things, the value that God places on a gentle and quiet spirit is applicable to all Christians of both genders.  The purpose of this lesson is to examine those biblical qualities that collectively make up a quiet and gentle spirit.

What does it mean to have a gentle and quiet spirit?  Some people mistakenly think that a gentle and quiet spirit is displayed when one never speaks.  Certainly sometimes a quiet spirit will be exhibited by silence, but not always. A quiet person can be all worked up on the inside while being perfectly composed on the outside.  A Christian that is secure in the confidence of their faith in God is gentle and quiet.  They are not overcome with worry and anxiety. This gentle and quiet spirit is a calm, peaceful spirit. It is a tamed spirit, a gentled spirit which has been brought under the control of the one who is responsible for it.

A quiet spirit does not engage in idle talk.

Jesus taught regarding this in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  The Greek word for idle in this verse means inactive, lazy and useless.  Jesus says that when we stand before the judgment seat, one of the things we are going to give an account of will be the useless things we have said in this life.  Jesus says here that someone can be condemned for saying things which are useless, of no worth; of no purpose, or as the word is translated; “idle“.

Idle words cover a broad range of application.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:3-7, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.”  Among the things Paul condemns here are filthiness, foolish talking and course jesting.  Notice that people who engage in these qualities are among those who have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.  Paul is saying here that Christians are not to engage in this type of behavior and those who do will not be living in the kingdom of God.  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  A quiet and gentle spirited Christian does not engage in foolish talking, course jesting and filthiness.

A Quiet Spirit refrains from reviling speech. 

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:9, “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling“, The KJV translates this as “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing

The word in the Greek language for reviling or railing means abusive language, verbal abuse or castigation; violent denunciation or condemnation.  In common terms, this means abusive hollering and screaming.  Peter says not to holler and scream back and those who holler and scream at us.  In Jude 9 in the context of speaking evil to others, we learn that even Michael the archangel dared not “bring against him a railing accusation“, or holler and scream abusively at Satan for trying to take the body of Moses.  The application we can make from that is that God does not approve of loud, abusive speech from His children.  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  A quiet spirited and gentle person does not holler and scream at others, not even when they are being hollered and screamed at.

A quiet and gentle person does not speak deceitfully to others. 

After Peter’s warning on railing in 1 Peter 3:9, he went on to write in v10, “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit.”  The KJV translates this as “guile“.  The original language carries the meaning of deceiving with trickery or craftiness.  insidious cunning in attaining a goal; crafty or artful deception.  Modern day examples of this would be con-men, instigators or people who obtain things they want through sneakiness.  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  A gentle and quiet person is not deceptive or crafty or sneaky.

A quiet and gentle person controls their temper

In Galatians 5:20 Paul gives a whole list of behaviors that will keep one out of the kingdom of God.  The one we are going to focus on with this lesson is “outburst of wrath“.  Wrath, when used of man, is the exhibition of an enraged sinful nature and is always inexcusable. In Colossians 3:8, Paul wrote, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Ephesians 4:29-32, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

Gentle and quiet Christians have their anger under control.  They are not prone to sudden vengeful outbursts which manifest themselves in filthy language or enraged behavior.  Ephesians 4:26 teaches us to, “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath“.  The sin is not in the anger, rather it is in how we manifest that anger through our behavior.  Let’s keep in mind what Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  A gentle and quiet person does not display an angry spirit through sudden outbursts of wrath.

A gentle and quiet spirit does not speak evil of one another.

James 4:11, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law.” (NKJV)  The original Greek carries the meaning of saying something that may hurt or injure another, also known as slander.  Notice James use of the word “brethren” in the context of how they deal with one another.  James is telling his Christian brethren not to slander one another.  To do so is to assume the position of a brother’s judge and also slanders the law of God which forbids such activity.  Not only do we set ourselves up as the judge of our brethren, we also set ourselves up as the judge of God’s law.  When we disregard or fail to obey God’s law, James says it is the same thing as judging it as unnecessary or irrelevant.  Our job is not to judge the law of God, rather it is to obey it.

We must not speak evil things of others, even if it may be true, unless there be some necessary occasion for it.  We must report evil things when necessary but we must not, dare not, do so in a slanderous or hurtful manner toward one another.  Our intent must not be to hurt, rather to edify or to correct one another in a spirit of concern.  Since Christians are brethren, they should not defile nor defame one another. It is required of us that we be tender of the good name of our brethren.  Where we cannot speak well, we had better say nothing rather than to speak evil of them.  We must never take pleasure in making known the faults of others, divulging things that are secret, merely to expose them.  And least of all, in making false stories, and spreading things concerning them of which they are altogether innocent.  Such behavior raises the hatred and encourages the persecutions of the world against fellow Christians who are engaged in the common goal of a home in heaven. We have all heard the old saying, if you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all.  That is good, biblical advice.

In 1 Peter 2:1-3, we read these words, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”  Peter expands on this to include malice (a desire to inflict injury or harm), guile, hypocrisy (claiming a virtuous character, moral or religious principle that one does not really possess.), envy (spiteful jealousy with regard to another’s advantages, success or possessions), and all other forms of evil speaking.  Concerning our fellow brethren Peter went on to say that we are to be to one another as newborn babes who are seeking the truth of God together.  Let’s remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  A gentle and quiet person does not use his words to maliciously slander others, especially those of the common faith.

A quiet and gentile spirit avoids foolish and ignorant disputes.

When writing to Timothy in Ephesus, Paul had this to say in 2 Timothy 2:22-26, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”  Strife within the brotherhood is sometimes the result of foolish and ignorant disputes.  James condemns strife in his epistle in chapter 3:14-16, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”  The NKJV translates “strife” as “self seeking” Other translations render the original language as “factions” and “self ambition“.  The thought here is that engaging in foolish and ignorant disputes creates factions or divisions because of those who seek themselves above their love of one another and of their love of the truth.   Christians are not to strive with one another over foolish disputes.  Certainly we are not to condone error where error exists, but we must not cause division and strife over foolish things.  Christians are supposed to be working together toward a common goal which is to seek God’s will in all things and serve Him obediently.

A quiet and gentle spirit exhibits gentleness, patience and humility.

Paul had more to say to Timothy regarding how we are to handle those who are in disputes.  Going back to 2 Timothy 2 and continuing in V24 we read, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (NKJV)

Gentleness, meekness and patience are earmarks of the Christian who would exhibit a quiet and gentle spirit.  There are going to be disagreements wherever people come together.  It is an inescapable occurrence.  However the Christian seeking after God’s will in this matter does not cause unnecessary strife and goes about the discharge of his or her responses to others gently, patiently and with an humble attitude and not with a self haughty, proud and know-it-all demeanor.  Certainly there are times when a sharp response is called for and a stand for the truth must be made (Titus 1:13; 3:10).  It is not in the scope of this lesson to deny such things rather it is to set guidelines for how they are to be done.  The necessity of a stand for the truth or a sharp response does not excuse a Christian from their responsibility for exhibiting a quiet and gentle spirit.  One can make a stand for the truth and not revile one another.  One can make a stand for the truth without injuring or hurting others.  One can make a stand for the truth and still maintain a quiet and gentle spirit.  On the other other side of the issue, maintaining a quiet and gentle spirit does not excuse one from making a stand for the truth if it becomes necessary.  God’s will is not to be abused in such a way that one command is an excuse to disobey another.  We must order our lives so that we are living in obedience to all of God’s will and not just what is convenient or easy at the moment.

Paul wrote concerning this in Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (NKJV)

Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit as Paul wrote in Galatians leading up to the verse we just read, chapter 5:22-26, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (NKJV).  When we live according to the teachings as revealed by the Holy Spirit in scripture, the fruits of that teaching when we obey it are the things mentioned here by Paul.  A gentle and quiet spirit loves others, is joyful, seeks peace, is patient, full of kindness, generosity and goodness.  It exhibits gentleness and self control under all possible circumstances.  The gentle and quiet spirit that God says He values so greatly is a product of the word of God actively working in our lives.  We as faithful children of God see those qualities that God desires in His disciples and we work to make those qualities a part of our lives.

Believers living in Christ have crucified, meaning put to death, the passions and desires of the flesh.  This includes putting to death those passions and desires which work directly against a quiet and gentle spirit.  Inspiration used the word “crucified” in regards to the putting to death of one’s passions and desires for a reason.  Disciples of Jesus Christ recognize the term “crucify” as being representative of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  We, like Jesus, are going to have to make a sacrifice of ourselves to accomplish the death of our worldly passions and desires.  It’s not easy, it’s difficult and sometimes very painful to do so.  The death of our fleshly passions is not something that comes quickly or effortlessly.  There is pain and suffering associated with it.  It is a practice of self denial which lasts a lifetime.  We are to crucify our fleshly desires.

Putting to death our passions means much more than controlling one’s sexual appetite.  We have to put to death those passions which manifest themselves in explosive outbursts of wrath, speaking deceitfully to others, tricking and conning others, getting our way through the avenue of sneakiness, lying to get what we want, indulging in hurtful conversations about others, verbally abusing others, filthy talking, jesting, profanity, and all evil speaking.  All of these things come about as a result of our fleshly passions and desires.  We must crucify these things within ourselves whatever they may be.

How important is this?  Paul tells us in Romans 8:13-14, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (NKJV)  Paul is writing to Christians here.  If living according to the desires of the body will cause a Christian to die then the stakes are high.  Paul is not talking about dying physically here.  We’re all going to die physically whether we obey God or not.  Paul is talking about spiritual death which is eternal condemnation.  Paul uses the conditional word “If” in this verse.  What this means is that if we want to live, meaning live with God in heaven, then we must put to death the deeds of the body.  The consequences for failing to meet the conditions set forth for life is to suffer eternal separation from God in heaven and to spend eternity in Hell.

So how important is this?  It has eternal consequences.  Not only does God value a gentle and quiet spirit, God expects it of us.  Because if we are living our lives according to God’s will according to the scriptures we have considered today and a host of others which we did not have the time to look at, we will have that gentle and quiet spirit which God values.  One cannot order their lives according to God’s will on this subject and not have a gentle and quiet spirit.

I got the idea for this lesson from a poem that was published online.  The publisher lives in Queensland, Australia and contributes poetry from time to time.  I know her only as Rose Christian, a sister in Christ.  I am assuming she wrote this poem.  When I read it, I could not help but take a look at my own life and examine it as it compared to this poem.  I realized as I read it that this is something we have to work for.  Not only that, it is also something desirable and good.  It is a worthy endeavor for Christians to engage in and an admirable quality in anybody.  It is also necessary if we want to live our lives pleasing in the sight of God and of mankind.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
I am working to be,
for this pleases God,
and I want Him,
to be pleased with me.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is one who obeys,
one devoted to God,
they are not divided,
constant their heart stays.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is one born again,
one renewed by God,
no longer His enemy,
but now His friend.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
practices daily to be,
one living for God
in a world dark and lost,
a shining light to see.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
returns no harm for wrong,
one fearing God,
who turns sorrow and weeping,
into prayers and praise of song.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is one who is at peace,
one hopes in God,
He is faithful,
from fears released.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is one who knows,
one seeking God,
He will find them,
Himself He shows.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is one who is humble,
one submitted to God,
knows His will,
and so does not stumble.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is one who trusts,
one dependant on God,
their needs fulfilled,
after nothing worldly lusts.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
is not proud,
not against God,
not boastful, unloving, stubborn,
does not argue, is not loud.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
can stand against wrong,
one strengthened by God,
taught by Christ’s example,
quiet trust makes one strong.

A gentle and quiet spirit,
changes I continue to see,
pleasing to God,
is what I want,
for His love saved me.

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