A Gentle Answer

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


A Gentle Answer


Scott Sauls


Thomas Nelson

Publication Date:

June 2, 2020




224 pages


The Bible instructs believers to love their enemies. Perhaps especially in today’s political climate, those are tough words to live by. Scott Sauls argues that one key to living the gentle life outlined in Scripture is to look at how Jesus interacted with people. He develops this idea in two sections. In the book’s first section, “The Gentleness Jesus Has for Us,” Sauls considers three results of Jesus’ gentle attitude to people:

  • He Befriends the Sinner in Us
  • He Reforms the Pharisee in Us
  • He Disarms the Cynic in Us

In the second section, “How His Gentleness Changes Us,” Sauls looks at five ways that emulating Jesus’ gentleness helps people navigate a harsh world:

  • We Grow Thicker Skin
  • We Do Anger Well
  • We Receive Criticism Graciously
  • We Forgive All the Way
  • We Bless Our Own Betrayers

Discussions about Jesus’ gentleness have gone back and forth over the years. People concerned about churches that made Jesus sound passive have leaned away from “Gentle Jesus” and focused on his shocking statements to hypocritical leaders. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film The Gospel According to St. Matthew may be the most famous depiction of Jesus’ shocking side, showing a “revolutionary Jesus” who rejects establishments to support the oppressed. Other people who grew up with a cruel, judgmental image of God prefer to focus on Jesus’ love and gentleness. Therefore, the problem for any writer trying to talk about Jesus’ gentleness is how to reconcile the sections in the Gospels that talk about these two sides of him.

Sauls gets into this debate in his chapter on doing anger well, describing the Bible’s ideas of righteous anger that aims at protecting people and refuses to fall into resentment. He argues that in his harshest moments Jesu was still only showing this kind of anger, which helps Christians see how to be gentle without being passive, loving without having to always “seem nice.” Some of Sauls’ ideas in this chapter echo Ed Stetzer’s explanation of righteous anger in Christians in the Age of Outrage, which works like a bookend to Sauls’ discussion here.

Beyond this one chapter about anger, Sauls focuses on making Jesus’ gentle side seem topical. In each chapter, he considers a Gospel passage about Jesus and then spends the rest of the chapter talking about that story’s basic principle (with references to current events or ministry anecdotes). Since Sauls isn’t trying to write a whole book about reconciling those two sides of Jesus, this approach works. He finds his particular niche in the “Christians and anger” discussion, broader than Stetzer while still making precise arguments. Ultimately readers looking for a detailed discussion of these two sides of Jesus should look elsewhere, but those interested in Sauls’ particular focus will find this book very helpful.

From a stylistic perspective, Sauls avoids the problems so many pastors writing books fall into. He communicates his ideas very effectively, without ever relying on techniques that work in public speaking but fall flat on the written page. He goes back and forth between explanations and sources with ease. When he uses anecdotes or current events, he picks ones which clearly connect to the points he’s making. Perhaps most helpfully, he talks about his own failings to be gentle, presenting himself as a fallible human being taking readers on a mutual journey to become more like Christ.

A highly topical and well-argued book about a very important topic.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4.5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians trying to develop a sense of gentleness based on Jesus’ behavior.

Christian Impact

The author calls readers to humility, gentleness and grace, showing how those traits create space to be a better representative of Jesus.

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