Gentleness: A fruit of God’s Spirit

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Gentleness is Godlike.

It is a special gift of the Holy Spirit and a sign of one’s true faith. A Christian, by definition, is a  gentle person.

Most everyone will agree we live in tempestuous times. We exist in a world filled with anger and strife. Is it any wonder that gentle people are so rare?

In this unhappy age, a gentle person can often be something like a lighthouse in a storm. There is a always a shortage of such beacons to guide us. In fact, this quality of person often seems extinct.

What is gentleness

Gentleness, as with many things, may be difficult to define. But, we all know it when we see it. A good Christian description says it is “based in strength, compelled by love”. Before we make a mistake, we must see one thing. That is, beyond any question, gentleness is not a sign of weakness. Further, true gentleness is an essential part of Christian love.

As we go on, let us examine how gentleness is:

  • rooted in spiritual strength
  • a vital component of every Christian’s life
  • exemplified by Jesus Christ himself.

God’s strength is gentle

Can we understand how the mighty power that created the universe includes a soft, tender, and caring quality? In the sweet words of an epistle, “… we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” 1 Thess 2:7 (Scripture passages from King James Version) As humans, there is nothing we can imagine that represents a gentle touch more than a mother nursing her child.

mother child nurture gentle
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

What more tender and vital example could we ask? This shows the unique and essential care and sustenance of a newborn child by a loving mother. Nursing of children is as old as our existence. But it still brings a special human feeling, and thoughts of a spiritual quality.

As a mother gives the milk of life to her infant, she will speak in quite, sweet tones. She does not yell and scream. There is no cause to lash out; and no need for rough stuff. No, she can accomplish everything necessary with gentle touches, gentle words and gentle love. Not only is loud and abusive behavior unnecessary for a mother (and likewise for any Christian). Such behavior is counter-productive, a poor witness and can even be dangerous.

Whenever believers move forward and deal with others, we represent God. As His ambassadors, He calls us to be “… wise as serpents and harmless ( i.e. safe and gentle) as doves,” Matt. 10:16(b).

Marks of a Christian

Jonathan Edwards the American colonial minister said, gentleness is “the spirit of Christianity.” Evils like violence, anger, and hate are not, and should not be, any part of our faith or us.

In a beloved passage, Paul, the apostle, says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galations 5:22-23

Photo by Bin Thiều on Unsplash

Our spirits should be infused, consumed, and brimming over with everything gentle. Self-indulgent, petty, and rude people have little to offer as witnesses for the faith. We must remember, these folks have always been, and will always be, among us. We are not to judge, but should realize that these are prime candidates to hear the Lord’s message.

What shall we do when we encouter these people?

  • turn the other cheek,
  • do good for evil,
  • and be a light for the world.

In other words, be gentle and meek and; never forget our calling to minister to these poor souls along with all humanity.

So, be careful, do not mistake weakness for gentleness. Weak people may appear benign. However, they do not have the inner power and fortitude essential for true gentleness. Remember, passive-aggressiveness is still aggressive. A docile person, placed under sufficient stress, can be pressed beyond safe limits.

Once again, Christians should be strong. Spiritual strength provides for and strengthens the better angels of gentleness. Soldiers, physicians, and Christians must endure difficult and extreme conditions in order to perform delicate and vital services. In our lives, a person must have a strong hand to be fully gentle.

“A gentle touch is all it takes to tame the wildest of men.”  ― Anthony T. Hincks

The biblical accounts of Elijah describe an encounter between the Almighty and the prophet. God led him to an encounter with mighty winds, earthquakes, and fires. However, none of those represented the Lord. Instead, God’s message was revealed through “a still small voice,” 1 Kings 19:12.

The Almighty could command any of these tremendous forces to accomplish His work. Instead, He chose to use a whisper — perhaps the ultimate example of gentleness — to communicate with the prophet..

Thus, we are instructed: “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth,” Psalm 46:10. It is difficult to hear God’s whisper if we are making a racket, or standing in a noisy place, or hanging out with raucous people.

Gentle Like Jesus

W W J D ?

Remember “What Would Jesus Do? The question was prevalent during the 1990’s. It sprung from the efforts of a Christian youth group leader at a Michigan church. It spread around the world and countless bracelets and other items with the “W W J D” legene seemed to be worn by everyone everywhere.What would Jesus Do

Christians should strive to pattern their lives by the example of Jesus. As He did, so we should. The best example might be the Apostle Paul who has left fror us  such guidance as:

  • Which will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? 1 Corinthians 4:21
  • I … beseech you … walk worthy … with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2
  • Let your moderation (gentleness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5

In their own turn, our great artists rendered impressions of Jesus and His followers. They cast Him and his disciples in gentle contexts, whether with a sinner, or a child, or a lamb. Regardless of the situation, they did (and so should we) recognize the Lord’s gentle character.

In his own words, Jesus Christ is crystal clear in his instructions. Scriptures say:

mercy faith sign
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
  • “Thou shall love your neighbor as thyself.” Matt. 22:39. There is no doubt here, teaching us to share gentleness as a fruit of love.
  • “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt. 10:16(b). Doves are a symbol of peace and gentility. Here, He is commissioning the Apostles to work in a challenging world full of harassment and danger. He rules out anger, hate and violence; and directs them to the paths of gentle behavior.
  • “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek (gentle) and lowly in heart (humble): and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29. He presents a living example of gentleness as a goal and direction for those who would follow Him.

The message is compelling. The other aspects of our faith match up and fit perfectly with gentleness. Think of the joy of the spirit, the promises of salvation, the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice. These make a perfect combination with a soft voice and a gentle touch.

Will you be gentle?

If you haven’t experienced these rich blessings, seek out a believer who has; ask questions; listen to the answers; then follow the example.

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In closing, we hope you see the need and benefits. Will you try a gentle approach for your life, witness, and ministry? What efforts do you need to move closer to a gentle tone? Will you seek to strengthen your spirit to be more like Jesus’ gentle nature?

 

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