By Diane Caston
We have been studying the various fruits of the Spirit. These are the evidences of the Holy Spirit working in our lives producing fruit inside of us, conforming us into His image. We cannot have these godly fruits in our lives apart from the Holy Spirit. How does fruit grow? The seed or plant is planted, then it is cultivated – watered, fertilized and pruned. The vinedresser Jesus cultivates His garden, and if we yield to Him and co-operate, the fruit of the Spirit will appear more and more in our lives, and we will have so much fruit we need to share it with others. Just like our little shopping cart outside!
Fruit isn’t achieved by working but is birthed by abiding.
- Fruit is fragile.
- Fruit reproduces itself.
- Fruit is attractive.
- Fruit nourishes.
The fruit of the Spirit is we are speaking about today is ... gentleness :
The word is correctly translated as meekness. When you look at the root word of all of the uses of gentleness in the Word, praýtēs is translated as "gentle-force".
As one author says meekness begins with the Lord's inspiration andfinishes by His direction and empowerment. It is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate properly through faith.
It is gentle-strength, or power with reserve. We need God’s wisdom to rightly discern the balance of using the strength and authority we have in the Lord in a controlled manner.
The word has the idea of being teachable, not having a superior attitude, not demanding one’s rights. It isn’t timidity or passiveness.
“It is the quality of the man who is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time.” (Barclay)
Morris says on gentleness: “It is important for the Christian to see that the self-assertiveness that is so much part of the twentieth-century life should not be valued highly. It is much better that each of us curtails the desire to be pre-eminent and exercises a proper meekness (or gentleness).”
It is sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.
The supreme example of gentleness is Israel's God. So patient! Waiting for repentance, warning of judgement, forgiving the repentant heart. He is God Almighty, Creator of the universe, who has the power to destroy with a word, yet He cares tenderly for the flock under his care.
Is. 40:11 “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.
He discloses himself not just in wind and earthquake and fire, but in "a gentle whisper", a still small voice to those who are listening.
He sent His Son to earth to humbly demonstrate in person what He is like. In obedience Jesus came in gentleness to display to us a willingness to yield, a willingness to become a lamb led to slaughter.
His exhortation to us is to Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt 11 :29
We are to learn to be like Him, and in learning to be gentle and humble, we find rest.
How many times do we think we need to fight our own battles? To make things right?
To solve every injustice? Be gentle and humble, let it wash over you, and you will find rest! Isn’t that what we long for?
Is. 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
He submitted to the plan of God for Him. He could have called down the armies of heaven to rescue Him. He could have stood up to those godless men who were orchestrating His death. He was silent, because it was part of the God ordained plan that had been prepared before the beginning of time.
Jesus is our example .
Col. 3:12-14 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
It was Paul the apostle’s manner to treat his new converts this way:
1 Thess. 2:7-8 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.
The Corinthian church we know was a carnal church, and Paul had much correction for them, but he tried to save it for his letters, and to be kind to them when he was with them. The criticized him for it.
2 Cor. 10:1 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away!
1 Cor 4:21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
The way we respond to correction determines the greeting we receive from the Lord.
You remember how Jesus had tenderness and gentleness for the crowds, the sheep without a shepherd. Then conversely how He treated the hypocritical religious leaders of the day calling them a brood of vipers and sons of the devil. Where is gentle Jesus here?
Ray Comfort uses this tactic in sharing the gospel. For those who listen and admit to their need, grace is awarded, tenderness, gentleness kindness. To those who scoff and mock, the law is presented and the warning of judgement to come.
But even this is done in gentleness and respect.
1 Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
A witness to Christian truth is the more effective for being made "with gentleness and respect, " especially toward a hostile or an unbelieving listener. How many times have we been frustrated in our conversation with the cults? We end up being led into an argument. This has no benefit. But if we speak the truth in love we can sometimes break through to an honest heart.
The advantages of gentleness:
Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. NIV
Prov 25:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
How many times have you diffused a situation by just being kind and gentle. It’s so easy to stir up strife, but a gentle word can change the situation.
Thank the Lord for the instruction He has left us.
1 Tim 6:11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, (greediness) and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Pursing riches and the things of this world is not going to make us happy. Pursue the things of God. Let it be your goal to have these qualities fill your life.
Eph. 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
These are God’s instructions to those who would lead the church, but they are what we are should strive for as followers of Christ.
2 Tim 2:24-25 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient in humility, correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
1 Tim 3:3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Our leaders, like us, knowing themselves to be subject to weakness, can more readily deal gently with the ignorant and the erring. Believers ensnared by sin must be restored gently.
Gal 6: 1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
Have you ever noticed that someone else’s sin leads us to sin, especially if their sin is against us? We end up getting angry. We end up judging and gossiping about them. Be careful to restore a brother or sister, not judge them.
What gentleness is not .
Finally, the exhortation to gentleness is not a license to let people use you. It does not mean that you become anyone’s door mat.
I read an article recently about the Southern Baptist Convention repenting from the damage that’s been done by some who have taken the complementary roles of men and woman in the church and used them as an excuse for abuse.
We should always be communicating with the people we are in relationship with about what is appropriate and what is not. Being gentle does not mean that we have to let people talk to us anyway that they like. We can gently remind them that we are made in the image of God and do not deserve to be treated that way. If we cannot come to an agreement about this and the abuse, verbal or physical, continues then we need to have someone intervene on our behalf, an elder, a pastor or a friend. I have seen way too many women who think that it is godly to sacrifice and allow someone to belittle and misuse them.
Gentleness isn’t passiveness, like Diane’s exhortation on goodness, gentleness looks for those who have need of a tender touch.
Meekness doesn’t cower, it can be bold with restraint in the proper situation. Gentleness is not being quiet to keep the peace. Actually, gentleness will often address an issue to the benefit of the one with the poor behavior, for their help and growth. It just needs to be done with the Godly balance of love and authority.
2 Tim. 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.