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Gentleness vs.Harshness

"Showing consideration and personal concern for others"


GENTLENESS– Character Materials for Children & Families
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed by Trudy Pettibone
Bible Teacher, Cincinnati, Ohio
December 17, 2001

I. Weekly Readings Based on The “I Will” Action Steps
II. An Object Lesson in Gentleness
III. The Bible Story for a Children’s Church Service

    GENTLENESS vs. Harshness
    Showing consideration and personal concern for others.

    I Will:
    • show good manners.
    • reject violence as a solution to my problems.
    • look for ways to ease the pain of others.
    • not annoy or irritate others.
    • be a peacemaker.
    Following are some scriptures for encouraging children in gentleness. Reading can be done by the child, if older, or can be done for the child. Activities should be done together and, as much as possible, should be full-family activities. If the Scripture is given as one block, break it down into small segments to fill the entire week.

    This month we do not have one specific model of gentleness, but should remember that Jesus is the model for all of our character qualities.

    Week One: I will show good manners.

    1 Timothy 6:10-11: Help your child understand that there is nothing wrong with money in itself. It is our attitude toward money that sometimes needs adjustment. The exhibition of greed is not good manners. If we avoid greed, then we have room in our life to show gentleness, kindness and other favorable attitudes toward others.

    Matthew 5:5: Some versions of this passage use the term meek rather than gentle. Help your child learn that meek or gentle does not mean allowing others to be mean to us. We can be gentle but still assertive. Jesus was the premier example of this.

    Philippians 4:4: Gentle attitudes toward others should enhance the joy that comes into our lives through Jesus. When we have the good manner of a gentle spirit toward others, we are showing how much we love Jesus.

    Titus 3:1-2: Respect for those who have authority over us is very good manners and common sense. We are not to make fun of others, but to show consideration to all people, for we are all created by the same God.

    1 Peter 3:3-4: If you have a daughter, this is an especially important verse, although I believe it can apply to males also. The most externally beautiful person will be marred by unseemly behavior. God loves a gentle and quiet spirit.

    Activities for the Week: Guide your child in observing children with good manners and those with bad manners. Usually the well-mannered children will be quieter, gentler. Without valuing the other children’s behavior, discuss with your child which children he or she relates to. List ways that the child might improve their own bad manners that they may become aware of. Develop ways of discreetly pointing out to your child manners that may not be acceptable to others. Good manners always show consideration for others.

    Prayers for the Week: Each day, focus on a behavior of your child that may not be considered as good manners. Pray with the child that God will help them remove this behavior from their life.

    Week Two: I will reject violence as a solution to my problems.

      Colossians 3:12-13: We are to forgive, an attitude that does not allow for revenge. God will seek vengeance on our behalf. Meanwhile, we are to settle differences according to the way Jesus would have dealt with them. We are to be compassionate, kind and gentle, even when we have been wronged.

      2 Timothy 2:24-26: As servants of God, we are to show kindness and compassion to those who differ with us, so that we might be able to win them to Jesus.

      Matthew 21:5: This quote from Zechariah 9:9 demonstrates how Jesus’ moment of victory would be far different than expected. Even Jesus’ followers thought he would come as a conquering ruler. This conquering ruler would have come on a horse, not a donkey. The donkey displays Jesus’ humility and gentleness, and shows that he will not rule by violence, but by love.

      2 Samuel 18:5: Even though Absalom deserved death, David ordered that he not be killed. When Absalom was killed by one of David’s servants, David mourned the loss of his son. This act of gentleness was not well received by David’s servants, but David could not show violence toward his son.

      Psalm 17:4: This Psalm of David supports his behavior. David knew that to walk in the path of God was not to be violent.

      Activities for the Week: Children are surrounded by violence. It is in their TV, movies and video games. Carefully screen what your children watch and participate in. Discuss the violence that they are exposed to. Help them to understand that harming another is not God’s way. Remember that your example is very important in training your children. Can your disciplinary actions be considered violent? Children need boundaries, but these are not gained by violent means.

      Prayers for the week: Help the child identify violence in his life, then pray: (1) that he or she will eliminate this violence from their life; (2) that God will protect them from the consequences of exposure to that violence; (3) that God will given them a gentle spirit when they are inclined toward violence; (4) that the child might be able to positively influence someone who has exhibited violent behavior toward them.

    Week Three: I will look for ways to ease the pain of others.

      Psalm 18:35 There is probably no better example in Scripture of pain being eased than in the Psalms. We can use the Psalms to ease the pain of others.

      1 Kings 19:11 Often the “still, small voice” can bring great comfort to us when we are feeling pain. A kind word, timely spoken, can ease the pain of those close to us.

      Matthew 11:29 Note that Jesus does not say, “let me take your yoke” but “take my yoke.” He is already yoked to whatever is weighing us down. He invites us to share in His burden, thus easing our pain. Jesus offers us rest, and we can use his example to extend rest to others by joining them in their burdens.

      Job 15:11 What Bible personality had more pain than Job, other than Jesus? God consoled him with a gentle word, which we must learn to use in consoling others.

      Isaiah 40:11 Throughout scripture, we never find harshness as a positive example of caring. God’s love is gentle, and so should be our care for others.

      Activities for the Week: Help your child to find examples of personalities who exhibit gentleness in their care for others. Learn about people such as Roberto Clemente (see Achieving True Success: How to Build Character as a Family, IACC, pg. 42) Clara Barton and Abraham Lincoln (as a father). Help your child develop a project that will enable him or her to ease the pain of others. Encourage the child to begin the project in his own home.

      Prayers for the Week: Help your child pray that God will lead them to someone they can help. Encourage the child to pray for the qualities that will make their assistance most beneficial: gentleness; lack of condescension; wisdom; not seeking any praise or reward.

    Week Four and following:

      • I will not annoy or irritate others.
      • I will be a peacemaker.

    Combining these two action phrases should not be difficult. If a child will learn not to annoy or irritate others, they have made a large step toward being a peacemaker.

    Galatians 5:22-23 To incorporate the fruit of the Spirit, of course, the child needs to have the power of the Spirit, which comes through salvation.

    1 Peter 3:15-16 Children who have been taught about Jesus naturally talk about Jesus. Perhaps the need is to encourage them not to talk about Jesus in a way that might make others uncomfortable.

    James 3:13 The good behavior of a child who loves Jesus will have a strong influence on others. Regardless of how cute a child might be, people are often irritated by misbehavior.

    1 Corinthians 4:21 While Paul could have been harsh, he knew that a gentle, loving spirit would have better results. He was gentle and loving, but firm. That is often a hard combination for parents to achieve.

    James 3:16-18 James describes characteristics which will be of value to every child who loves God. Using the wisdom of God will result in being a peacemaker.

    Activities for the Week: Help your child envision a world that is completely at peace. How will people treat each other? What things might be different? Ask your child to talk about what he or she might do to bring about peace in her or his life. Help your child identify habits that might irritate others. Develop ways of eliminating these habits from his life.

    Prayers for the Week: Pray for peace in your household, your church and the individual lives of each family member. Pray that God will show your child ways to bring peace to others. Pray for your child to have victory over habits that might irritate others.


    Theme: Strength in Numbers. Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Teacher materials: Have one or more of the following materials: crepe paper strips, toilet paper, yarn, curling ribbon, narrow fabric strip.

    Introduce the talk:

    God tells us in his Word that He wants us to helpothers,especially those who are weak.

    Present the Talk:

    Choose a volunteer, who will hold their wrists together so that you can wrap one of your materials around them. Wrap one strand – ask the volunteer to break free. Repeat several times, wrapping an increasin number of times.


    A few strands of paper are weak and can be broken; the more strands we have, the stronger they become. (As time permits, use other volunteers and materials.)


    When we try to trust in God by ourselves, we are like the one strand, and might find it hard to do what God says. But if we have others who encourage us and help us, we have more strength to do what God wants us to do. We are stronger together. Read the scripture and ask the children to help you count the ways God says we can help.


    Ask God to help children find ways to help others.

    [Idea taken from The Big Book of Kid Sermons ad Object Talks, Page 105.]

Bible Lesson:

Dorcas. Scripture: Acts 9:36-42. Have several older children read parts of this passage. (This story will be greatly enhanced if you cut a visual as you talk. Fan fold a piece of paper into six 1 and ½ inch sections. Draw half of a robe or dress on the top fold so that you are cutting out the outer edge. Cut slowly so that your cutting ends with your story.) In the city of Joppa, there was a very special woman named Dorcas. Dorcas cared for people in many ways. She loved to help the poor. She had the gift of being able to sew, and so she made clothes for people who could not afford to make their own. People could not just go to a store and buy clothes back then. Only very rich people could buy clothes. And Dorcas had to sew by hand because there were no sewing machines. She worked very hard to ease some of the difficulties others had. Dorcas wanted to help others because she loved Jesus. When we love Jesus, we want to do nice things for others.

One day, Dorcas got very sick, and then she died. The people she had helped were very unhappy. After carrying her to an upstairs room, they called Peter, one of the people who had walked with Jesus when he was alive, and was now a leader in the church. Peter was preaching nearby, and some men went to get him. Peter went with the men to the house where Dorcas lay. Some of the women who were there showed the garments Dorcas had made, and talked about how much they missed her (unfold your cut garment).Peter told everyone to leave the room. Then he knelt beside the body of Dorcas and said Tabitha, rise (her name was Tabitha in Hebrew). (refold your cut garment). Dorcas opened her eyes and sat up. Peter held out his and she took it and stood up. Peter then took Dorcas down to her friends. The people were very happy that Dorcas was alive again. They knew that the God who had healed Dorcas loved them too.

The Bible does not tell us any more about Dorcas. But she probably continued making clothes to help others (unfold your cut garment) and telling others about Jesus. Dorcas used her love for Jesus and her special gift to help ease the pain of others. [Modified from Cut and Tell Bible Stories, Jean Stangl, page 61.]

Questions for discussion:

How did Dorcas show gentleness? (Review the action clauses). Who else in the story showed gentleness? How can you show gentleness for others?

Closing Prayer:

Ask God to help the children be aware of ways in which they can help others.

    This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.