“I am a timid person by nature,” explains Sara, * “and I don’t have a lot of self-confidence. So I feel uncomfortable when I am with people who have a strong, aggressive personality. But I feel relaxed when I am with someone who is mild and humble. I can open up to that sort of person, share my feelings, and discuss my problems. My best friends are like this.”
Sara’s comments reveal that mildness endears us to fellow humans. Mildness also pleases Jehovah. His Word exhorts us: “Clothe yourselves with . . . mildness.” (Col. 3:12) What is mildness? How did Jesus show mildness? And how can this quality make our lives happier?
WHAT IS MILDNESS?
Mildness is an inner, peaceful disposition. A mild person deals with others in a gentle, kind way and is able to face life’s irritations with calmness and self-control.
Mildness is a sign of inner strength. The Greek word for “mildness” was used to describe a wild horse that had been tamed. The strength of the horse remains, but patient training has bridled its raw power. Likewise, when we display mildness, we tame our unruly nature and deal peaceably with others.
‘I am not a mild person by nature,’ we may think. We do live in a world where aggression and impatience are common, so we may find it a challenge to display a mild spirit. (Rom. 7:19) Clearly, it requires effort to cultivate mildness, but Jehovah’s holy spirit will help us to strengthen our resolve to reach our goal. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Why should we make the effort to cultivate mildness?
Mildness is a quality that attracts people. As Sara, quoted above, observed, we feel relaxed in the company of a mild-tempered person. Jesus is an outstanding example of a mild and kind person. (2 Cor. 10:1) Even children who hardly knew him wanted to be close to him.—Mark 10:13-16.
Mildness protects us as well as those around us. If we are mild, we do not quickly get frustrated or react angrily. (Prov. 16:32) We thus avoid feelings of guilt that arise after we hurt someone—especially a person whom we love. And mildness protects those around us from suffering because of our unrestrained spirit.
THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF MILDNESS
Despite his heavy responsibilities and busy schedule, Jesus was mild-tempered toward all. Many in his day were struggling and loaded down, and they needed refreshment. How comforted they must have felt when Jesus said to them: “Come to me, . . . for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart”!—Matt. 11:28, 29.
How can we cultivate the mildness that Jesus displayed? We study God’s Word to learn how Jesus interacted with people and handled difficult situations. Then, when we face situations that test our mildness, we strive to act like Jesus. (1 Pet. 2:21) Consider three factors that helped Jesus to be mild.
Jesus was humble at heart. Jesus said that he was both “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) The Bible mentions these two qualities together because mildness is closely connected with humility. (Eph. 4:1-3) Why is that so?
Humility helps us to avoid taking ourselves too seriously or becoming overly sensitive. How did Jesus respond to those who unjustly criticized him for being “a glutton” and “given to drinking wine”? He let his example stifle the criticism, and he mildly pointed out that “wisdom is proved righteous by its works.”—Matt. 11:19.
If someone makes a thoughtless comment about your race, sex, or background, why not make the effort to respond mildly? Peter, a Christian elder in South Africa, says: “When I find myself irritated by what someone says, I ask myself, ‘How would Jesus react?’” He adds: “I have learned not to take myself too seriously.”
Jesus understood human weakness. Jesus’ disciples had good intentions, but sometimes their imperfect nature hindered them from carrying out their intentions. For example, the night before Jesus died, Peter, James, and John failed to give him the emotional support he requested. Jesus recognized that “the spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:40, 41) Thanks to this insight, Jesus did not get irritated with his apostles.
Mandy is a sister who used to be very demanding, but now she tries hard to imitate Jesus’ example of mildness. She says, “I try to accept human imperfection in all its facets and to see the positive in others, something that Jehovah certainly sees.” Could Jesus’ compassionate view of human weakness also help you to deal mildly with others?
Jesus left matters in God’s hands. Jesus accepted unjust treatment while he was on earth. He was misunderstood, despised, and tortured. Even so, he remained mild-tempered because he “entrusted himself to the One who judges righteously.” (1 Pet. 2:23) Jesus knew that his heavenly Father would care for him and deal with injustices at the right time.
If we get angry and try to fight a personal injustice, we could easily overreact and make things worse. That is why the Scriptures remind us: “Man’s anger does not bring about God’s righteousness.” (Jas. 1:20) Even if our anger is justified, imperfection may lead us to react in a wrong way.
A sister in Germany named Cathy used to think, ‘If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will.’ But when she learned to trust in Jehovah, her attitude changed. “I no longer need to be on the defensive,” she says. “I feel free to act mildly, knowing that Jehovah has everything under perfect control.” If you have ever been a victim of injustice, following Jesus’ example of trusting in God will also help you to maintain a mild spirit.
“HAPPY ARE THE MILD-TEMPERED”
Jesus pointed out that mildness plays a significant role in our happiness. “Happy are the mild-tempered,” he said. (Matt. 5:5) Note how mildness helps in the following situations.
Mildness defuses tension in marriage. “I have said a lot of hurtful things to my wife that I didn’t mean,” admits Robert, a brother from Australia. “But rash words spoken in anger cannot be withdrawn. I felt so bad when I saw how much I had hurt her.”
Robert worked hard to develop calmness and self-control. What has been the result? “Nowadays, whenever a disagreement arises, I make a conscious effort to listen carefully, to speak mildly, and not to allow myself to get upset,” he says. “My relationship with my wife is so much better.”
Mildness helps us to get along better with others. Those who are quick to take offense end up with few friends. Mildness, however, helps us “to maintain . . . the uniting bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:2, 3) Cathy, quoted earlier, says, “Mildness has given me the power to make every encounter with another person a bit more pleasant, even though some people are difficult to deal with.”
Mildness brings inner peace. The Bible associates “the wisdom from above” with mildness and peace. (Jas. 3:13, 17) A mild person has “a calm heart.” (Prov. 14:30) Martin, who has worked hard to develop the quality of mildness, observes, “I am now more flexible and less aggressive, and I enjoy more inner peace and happiness.”
True, we may have to struggle to develop a mild spirit. “To be honest,” says one brother, “even to this day, I boil inside with anger on some occasions.” But Jehovah, who encourages us to pursue mildness, will help us in this struggle. (Isa. 41:10; 1 Tim. 6:11) He can ‘finish our training’; he can ‘make us strong.’ (1 Pet. 5:10) In time, like the apostle Paul, we can reflect “the mildness and kindness of the Christ.”—2 Cor. 10:1.
^ par. 2 Some names have been changed.