“…have a reputation for gentleness…” (Philippians 4:5)
When Paul writes of gentleness, he does not mean milquetoast weakness. The Greek word for gentleness used here actually means meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Biblical meekness is closer in meaning to tameness. When a powerful stallion finally takes the bit and yields to the control of bridle and rider, it is not weak. That powerful animal could be described as “strength under control.” That is what biblical meekness means.
When Saul of Tarsus met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Jesus asked him “Why are you persecuting Me? It is so hard for you.” The original language actually means, “It is hard for you to pull against the bit. It is tearing up your mouth.” When Paul asked his great question, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” he took the bit of Christ and became meek.
Gentleness is also listed as one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Another way of describing this concept is acceptance and unconditional surrender. The well-known serenity prayer then becomes an expression of this peace condition:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In Romans 8:28, Paul is not suggesting that everything that happens to those who love God is good. There may be nothing good at all about many things that happen to us. His claim simply is that God can fit everything into a pattern of good, if we love God and are called according to His purposes.
Paul teaches us by example that we must accept the will of God until we are so meek we experience gentleness. He says, “I am ready for anything through the strength of the One Who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13) Paul learned that it is safe to surrender unconditionally to our loving God. Therefore, gentleness and meekness prescribe acceptance to the will of God, one circumstance at a time.
Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace