The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Gentleness
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”Galatians 5:22-23
If we undervalue gentleness, or meekness, it’s likely because we misunderstand it. Perhaps we think of it as a sort of spinelessness or weakness, as if to be gentle or meek is to lie down and let others treat us “like a doormat.” But a better, more biblical way to think of gentleness is as strength under control.
“As Christians, we often lack the gentleness we desperately need. Indeed, we may hardly even notice its absence.”Pastor George Washington Bethune, 1839
Gentleness Is The Nature Of God
God directs His strength, authority, and sovereignty for the good of His people. He cares for every last one of His sheep—especially the most vulnerable. Those who have particular needs—“the lambs”—He gathers in His arm. It’s a wonderful and a compelling picture: our mighty, majestic God stooping down into our little lives and tending gently to our needs.
“Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,Isaiah40:10-11
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”
Gentleness Flows Through Us, Not From Us
Jesus, the image of the living God, is also the model for everything good. He identified Himself as “gentle and lowly in heart.” Though He “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3), never does He speak words like “useless,” “worthless,” “unlovable,” and others that evoke shame within His children. The one with all power and authority gently cares for those who are His own.
Paul was no weakling. He knew where he stood. He had convictions. He could have subdued believers into obedience, as he had done in his former life. But his gentleness flowed from his experience of God’s grace. Paul exercised his strength for the service of others in obedience to God.
Gentleness Toward God
Do I have a teachable spirit? The fruit of gentleness should be evident in the way we listen to the word of God when it is being taught. James instructs us to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Receiving the word with meekness means putting aside our human strength and understanding, to receive something better.
Do I repent when confronted by the truth of the Bible? We all make mistakes—and often big ones. As John reminds us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Meekness before God means acknowledging the insufficiency of our own strength to save us—in other words, acknowledging our need for the Savior.
Do I trust God with my life? Gentleness is most readily developed through pain and adversity. Many of the things that we don’t want to happen in our lives are the very things that will make me the mature person God wants me to be. In trials, we can trust that He is developing the gentleness of Jesus in us.
Gentleness Toward One Another
Gentleness toward one another means showing the kind of care and consideration that God in Jesus Christ has shown to us.
- Am I considerate, generous, and fair in my dealings with others, or am I rigid, critical, and demanding?
- Am I prepared to be sensitive to the pressures and insecurities of my friends, coworkers, and family?
- Do I show consideration to the people who serve me, like the cashier, the customer service representative, the waiter or waitress?
- Do I tell myself I am standing on principle when I’m merely insisting on getting my own way?
- Am I becoming increasingly compassionate, genial, reasonable, and kind or increasingly narrow-minded, unyielding, and inconsiderate?
Gentleness Develops Over Time
With all of this in view, we must remember that gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit. We could easily become impatient about our lack of gentleness as we find we are not living up to the challenge of the questions above. Some of us would go as far as to manufacture our own version of gentleness – possibly due to a lack of patience, a lack of trust, or even a desire to appear as someone we’re not. We must turn our frustration into a desperate dependence on the Holy Spirit to do the work in us He has promised.
It would be a senseless contradiction to assume we could create gentleness within ourselves through the efforts of our own will
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