Mildness Has Power
A TRUCK driver stopped a car that had come from the opposite direction. Its operator had blinded him somewhat by neglecting to dim the lights of the car. The trucker took an iron bar in hand and smashed both headlights of his unfortunate fellow road user’s auto. Then he continued on his way, leaving the poor car driver behind with a vehicle he could no longer drive. Does such an incident sound familiar to you?
For millions of people violence is the response to anything that goes contrary to their inclination. They resort to either a verbal attack or the use of physical force. Lack of mildness is spreading like a contagious disease. More and more people are concluding that it is useless to be mild, because asserting oneself seems to be much more effective. But is this true?
An Example From History
The man was under heavy pressure. A great crowd with swords and clubs had come to take him into custody. At that, a close companion drew a sword and cut off an ear of a person in the unfriendly crowd. The atmosphere was full of tension. What would the apprehended man do at this crucial time?
The man was Jesus Christ. Notice his reaction. To the one who had tried to come to his rescue, Jesus said: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:47-53) Rather than manifesting a lack of mildness, Jesus “touched the ear and healed” the wounded man.—Luke 22:51.
Is Mildness a Sign of Weakness?
Surely, the mildness Jesus displayed could not be attributed to a weak personality. Jesus was a forceful man with the power of his heavenly Father behind him, and he stood firm for what is right. Do you recall what he did at the beginning of his ministry? He entered into the temple at Jerusalem and, on seeing “those selling cattle and sheep and doves and the money brokers in their seats,” he made a whip of ropes and “drove all those with the sheep and cattle out of the temple.” (John 2:14, 15; see also Matthew 23:13-36.) No sign of weakness there!
By his example Jesus showed that mildness is not just an outward display of calmness but is a reflection of God’s strong though mild personality. Jehovah is strong in not tolerating sin. He hates it thoroughly and is very outspoken about it. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Yet, in his mildness, God has provided a way for fallen man to be reconciled to him through the ransom sacrifice and priestly services of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:10; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6; Hebrews 4:14-16) Jehovah’s mildness therefore leads to a full cleansing from sin. (1 John 1:9) So mildness has power, even saving power.
How to Acquire Mildness
Imperfect Christians know that within themselves mildness is not a strong force. Having been born in sin as part of Adam’s family, we all have fallen fleshly tendencies and were alienated from the life that belongs to God. (Ephesians 2:3; 4:17, 18) We lacked faith and hope, probably also feeling frustrated and insecure. It is easy to see how this state of mind could be a breeding ground for lack of mildness. (Compare Proverbs 25:28.) But upon learning about God’s ways and receiving his forgiveness of sins, what happened? We grew stronger in faith and made progress in cultivating the fruits of God’s spirit, which include mildness.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
So it is not due to exercising our own willpower that any of us are able to acquire this fine trait. Rather, mildness results from drawing close to God as our source of strength. Our honest desire to copy Jesus’ example further helps us to act with mildness.
As pointed out at 1 Peter 3:3, 4, mildness is associated with the “secret person of the heart,” being an inward trait. It is not primarily one that is naturally inherited, but it is acquired as a fruit of God’s spirit and through accurate knowledge and application of his Word. Mildness is part of the “new personality” that is patterned after Jehovah God. (Colossians 3:10) But is godly mildness acquired easily?
Others Have Succeeded
“No, it does not come easy,” is the answer of one tall, husky man. “I used to be a prizefighter. But outside the ring, in my own town, I was called ‘the terror of the neighborhood.’ My physical power gave me feelings of superiority, and I took pleasure in street fighting. Also, at home I greatly lacked self-control. I remember that one time when my wife irritated me I smashed the basement door and the refrigerator with two kicks. Sometimes I was ashamed of myself, especially when I lay drunk in the front garden, in the midst of my own vomit. At those moments I prayed to God for help. Then my contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses intensified. Eight years ago I drank my last glass of beer.
“I had a hard time trying to get the mastery over my temper. But when I now preach from house to house, I can reason with people instead of getting mad at them. Seeing the love among my spiritual brothers has helped me to develop a mild spirit, although I have to keep fighting old tendencies. As a Christian elder, I can understand others who have the same fight, but I know it is possible to succeed.”
Or, consider the case of a certain Amboinese woman. She used to be very hot-tempered and carried a knife under her blouse. In her fits of anger she had injured several people. Then Bible truth was introduced into her life. And what does she say now, after being a Christian witness of Jehovah for twenty years? “I realized that I could not worship Jehovah with such a bad temper. So with his help I changed, although I still have to fight with myself to keep calm.”
These examples show that a person who wants to develop mildness must stay away from the wrong thinking and acting that are so common in the world around us. It is as the apostle Paul said when writing to the Roman Christians: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think.” (Romans 12:2, 3) When we do not think more of ourselves than necessary, considering others superior, this helps us to be mild in dealing with them.—Philippians 2:3.
Wherein Lies Its Power?
In human relations, mildness is far more powerful than harshness. When someone has to deal with a difficult situation or with an angry, disturbed or deeply grieved person, mildness will achieve results because it is most likely to elicit a response that will open the way to overcome the difficulty. The Bible says: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage.” Yes, “a mild tongue itself can break a bone.”—Proverbs 15:1; 25:15.
What power mildness has! It really makes the difference between restoring peaceful relations and creating hurt feelings, disunity and damage beyond repair. Now let us see how this is true in various areas of human relations, and how rewarding it is.
In the Family Circle
It is God’s purpose that the family circle be a warm, loving arrangement of mutual understanding. But, alas, we now see that tension and lack of self-control make many families miserable! Doubtless, this is so partly because family members know one another so well, and due to human imperfection everyone in the family is bound to make mistakes. These can either be magnified or be covered by love.
Imagine hardworking John coming home after a nerve-racking day at work. He looks forward to a cheery “welcome home” from his wife. Instead, she remarks: “I specially phoned to ask you to pick up groceries on your way home. Why haven’t you done it?” How will John react? He knows that reacting with mildness is God’s way, but at such a moment it may be very difficult to give a mild answer. Happily, in this case, he puts his arm around his wife’s shoulder and says: “I forgot, darling. I am so sorry. I will go to the store now and will be back in a few minutes.” A pleasant evening is his reward.
The same holds true in parents’ relations with their children. Mildness will make parents approachable. Remember Jesus. Children loved to approach him. (Matthew 19:14, 15) Why? Because, as he himself said, he was “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) As a parent, are you mild-tempered, just as Jesus was?
What about the family relationship when the husband is not a Christian and his wife is a disciple of Jesus Christ? It is good for the believing wife to maintain a positive attitude because in time her husband may be won over to the truth. In this, however, notice the importance of mildness on the wife’s part. The apostle Peter wrote: “Be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, . . . let [your adornment] be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Peter 3:1-4.
In the Congregation
The Christian congregation is like a large family. (Compare 1 Timothy 3:15.) With a real family spirit prevailing, a spirit of mildness in which mistakes are not magnified but are covered over in love, all in the congregation will do their utmost to be kind to one another. This will work for peace and unity. Especially should those having spiritual oversight have a mild, loving family spirit in dealing with fellow members of the congregation, for the apostle Paul wrote: “Do not severely criticize an older man. To the contrary, entreat him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all chasteness.”—1 Timothy 5:1, 2.
This splendid counsel emphasizes the need for overseers to display Christlike mildness. If, before being aware of it, a member of the congregation makes a mistake, it would not be proper to give the erring person a harsh reprimand. Why? Because harshness is likely to cause hurt feelings and possibly anger. Moreover, it repels. Therefore, overseers should take heed to the inspired counsel: “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.”—Galatians 6:1.
When we act in a spirit of mildness, we imitate God’s own way of dealing with us. Paul counseled the Christian overseer Titus to exhibit “all mildness toward all men.” Why? “For even we were once senseless, disobedient, being misled, being slaves to various desires and pleasures, carrying on in badness and envy, abhorrent, hating one another.” However, Jehovah came to our rescue and saved us “according to his mercy.”—Titus 3:2-7.
Jesus commanded his followers to ‘let their light shine before men.’ (Matthew 5:16) By what are people in general attracted most? By harshness, or by kindness and mildness? What has been your own experience? Likely, we will all agree with Jesus’ words: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) Does this not call for mildness on our part?
In Contacts With Our Neighbors
We may meet with opposition from our neighbors, perhaps when calling to share the good news with them. Surely, under such circumstances it is essential that we display mildness, even as Christian overseers need to do so within the congregation. (Compare 2 Timothy 2:23-26.) Because of our mildness, former opposers may eventually respond favorably to the kingdom message.
Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the earth have accepted the good news. In association with anointed Christians, they are now part of a loving worldwide brotherhood. Thus a “great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” today ascribe salvation to Jehovah God and to the Lamb, Jesus Christ. (Revelation 7:9, 10; 14:1) These dedicated Christians are living proof that Jehovah’s mildness has saving power. In appreciative response, they endeavor to exhibit Godlike mildness, and they find this to be very rewarding. May you also be found among the mild-tempered ones who enjoy divine blessing.—Compare Matthew 5:5.
[Picture on page 10]
“I forgot, darling. I am so sorry”