Mildness Is Wisdom
HOW pleasant is a mild breeze, a mild winter or a mild spring! And even more so is a mild answer, a mild disposition or a mild manner of handling a difficult situation. Yes, while mildness is said to be best defined by telling what it is not—not harsh, not sharp, not caustic, not irritating, and so forth—mildness also is “that which induces a feeling of quiet measured beauty or serenity.”
Mildness is wisdom. Why? First of all, because Jehovah God sets great store by it, it is of great value in his eyes, even as his Word shows. Mildness is shown to be a “fruitage of the spirit,” even as are love, faith and self-control. Christians are commanded to pursue “mildness of temper,” along with righteousness, godly devotion, faith and love. And Christian women in particular are counseled to put on “the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Tim. 6:11; 1 Pet. 3:4.
Mildness manifests wisdom also because it benefits others. It is an expression of empathy, of the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, as it were. It shows consideration, love. It is a quality that was manifested by the ancient patriarchs, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by Moses and, in particular, by Jesus Christ. Most fittingly Jesus called: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” In the same vein the apostle Paul wrote: “I . . . entreat you by the mildness and kindness of the Christ.”—Matt. 11:28-30; 2 Cor. 10:1.
Further, mildness is wisdom in that it benefits us ourselves. Are we not told, “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth”? (Matt. 5:5) But mildness is rewarding even before God rewards it. We reap what we sow; others repay us in kind. If we are mild with them, they are mild with us. There is wisdom in making the very tone of our voice mild. A mild voice attracts, a harsh voice repels. Persons often are judged by their voices, especially over the telephone. The wise man tells us: “By patience a commander is induced, and a mild tongue itself can break a bone.”—Prov. 25:15.
Why, mildness is even good for our physical health! It keeps us from having “nerves,” ulcers, as well as saving us from many an embarrassing situation that could cause us to lose sleep.
Mildness, however, is not the easy way. It requires self-control; it takes thoughtfulness and consideration, unselfishness, thinking about others and not just ourselves. It also takes humility. Frequently the Scriptures associate mildness with lowliness of mind. The proud are not likely to be mild.
Especially does it show wisdom to exercise mildness when meeting up with those who are not mild. “An answer, when mild, turns away rage.” When others demand of the Christian a reason for his hope, he may not respond in kind but must do so “with a mild temper and deep respect.”—Prov. 15:1; 1 Pet. 3:15.
When it is necessary to give reproof it is easy to overlook mildness. But even here mildness is wisdom. That is why the counsel is given: “Even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to restore such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.” Yes, “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, keeping himself restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed.” How easy to be harsh with erring ones, with those not favorably disposed! What understanding of human nature, what divine wisdom such counsel shows!—Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:24, 25.
Not that we are always to be mild. There is a time for everything, and so also a time to be severe and administer a stinging rebuke, as Jesus did when repeatedly calling the religious leaders of his day, “Hypocrites!” That mildness is not suited for just every occasion the apostle Paul also shows by his words to the materialistic Christians at Corinth: “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and mildness of spirit?” But the times not to be mild should be the exception, should be carefully weighed, and based on principle. Jesus even manifested mildness in dealing with Peter after he had denied his Master three times.—Matt. 23:13, 29; 1 Cor. 4:21; John 21:15-19.
If we were unduly harsh and it turns out that we were mistaken, how much more difficult to retract our statement than it would be if we had been mild! Besides, undue harshness may cause the erring one to become bitter and hard, worsening him. That was not the purpose of our rebuke, was it? By tempering the rebuke with mildness, by understatement, it is more likely to benefit the erring one than if we administered “all he had coming to him.” Besides, with such harshness goes the tendency to play havoc with the truth, to exaggerate. Mildness helps one to remain calm, think clearly, give due regard for the truth.
Truly, not without good reason does the Word of God so highly and so frequently recommend mildness to us. “Walk . . . with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love.” “Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering.”—Eph. 4:1, 2; Col. 3:12.
We cannot escape it. Mildness is wisdom. By both precept and example God’s Word recommends mildness to us. Jehovah God requires it. It makes things easier, more pleasant for others. It does the same for us. So, “who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a meekness [or mildness] that belongs to wisdom.”—Jas. 3:13.