As we all look at the upside-down world we live in…we tend to wonder what would God have us do today. 1 Corinthians 10:31…Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Many people have asked me “what can I do to help with the racial tension that has struck in many cities?” Obviously, we all need to pray in faith that God will bring good out of every situation, that His Peace will prevail. But I challenge you to… be who God created you to be… in the places He has placed you to be… to every person you have an opportunity to be the Light of Christ to. What I mean by that is to treat everyone that you come in contact with as if they were Jesus. Just as the pandemic gets transferred thru contact person to person…. God’s Love can do the same. If “each one reaches one” and that person does the same…before long, we will all treat each other with respect… and as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
For the last few days, we have been looking at the FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. We have been focusing on Galatians 5:22…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We’re not speaking of spiritual apples, grapes, pears, or peaches here. We’re talking about what’s going on in the orchard of your life. If the goal of the Christian life may be stated as Christlikeness, then surely every trait developed in us that reflects His character must be fruit that is very pleasing to Him. Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in nine terms. I am going to take each of these characteristics one per day. So far, we have looked at LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, FAITHFULNESS.
Today we will look at GENTLENESS.
The dictionary defines gentleness as the quality of being kind and careful. Your gentleness with a frightened stray dog will eventually convince her to let you feed and pet her. The noun gentleness is perfect for describing the way someone acts when they are soft and calm and sweet to other people.
What is the difference between kindness and gentleness?
It would seem that kindness is more of a singular action, whereas gentleness is more of a “way of life” or method. I do believe that gentleness embodies kindness – that a gentle person is almost certainly going to be kind to others. (Note: both are included in the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.)
I read about a guy who took his kids to a fair where they (unfortunately for dad) won 4 goldfish. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on a tank for the fish, he got an old one from the garage. He spent a few hours cleaning it and put the fish in. All is well! The next day one fish died, then the next, and soon all 4 were dead. It didn’t take him long to discover the problem: He had washed the tank with soap, an absolute no-no. His efforts had destroyed the very lives he was trying to protect. Sometimes in our zeal to clean up our own lives or the lives of others we, unfortunately, use “killer soaps” like condemnation, criticism, nagging, fits of temper. We try to force our ideas…using a loud voice and abusive words. We think we’re doing right, but our harsh, self-righteous treatment is more than they can bear.
That’s where gentleness comes in. The Biblical definition of Gentleness is Sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.
What does the Bible say about gentleness?
- We are to be gentle like Jesus! Matthew 11:29…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.
- Paul was gentle to believers! 2 Corinthians 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!
- We are to be identified by our gentleness…even when dealing with others. Ephesians 4:2…Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
- We are to treat others gently! Galatians 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.
According to Bill Farmer’s newspaper column J:
Upton Dickson was a fun-loving fellow who said he was writing a book entitled Cower Power. He also founded a group of submissive people. It was called DOORMATS. That stands for “Dependent Organization of Really Meek And Timid Souls…if there are no objections.” Their motto was: “The meek shall inherit the earth if that’s okay with everybody else.” Their symbol was the yellow traffic light.
The devotional called “daily Bread” said, Mr. Dickson sounds like he’d be a lot of fun, doesn’t he? What is disturbing about all of this, though, is that many people assume that the ridiculous ideas behind DOORMATS and Cower Power represent the quality of meekness outlined in Matthew 5:5…Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Many think that to be meek (gentle) is to be weak. But the opposite is true. What the Bible is talking about is a powerful virtue. The slogan “strong enough to be gentle” comes close to defining it. True meekness (humble and gentle) is best seen in Christ. He was submissive, never resisting or disputing the will of God. His absolute trust in the Father enabled Him to show compassion, courage, and self-sacrifice even in the most hostile situation.
Now let’s apply this to ourselves. When we are meek (gentle), we will bear insults without lashing out in proud resentment or retaliation. We’ll thank God in every circumstance, while using every circumstance, good or bad, as an occasion to submit to Him. Meekness would be a weakness if it meant yielding to sin. But because it stems from goodness and godliness, it is a great strength.
The need for gentleness (a gentle spirit) shows up most when dealing with people who disagree with us. A book called “God’s Power to Change Your Life” looks at 6 points:
- Being understanding…not demanding. Philippians 2:4 (lb)don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. Try to understand their motive and situation. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Being gracious…not judgmental. Galatians 6:1 (NIV)… 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. Wait for the right time, place…and for you to have the right purpose and attitude before approaching them. Don’t have a “holier than thou” attitude. Accept those who have a weak faith without passing judgment. Pray for God to mend their hearts.
- To be tender without surrender. Proverbs 15:1 (GMT)… A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up. One of the best tests of spiritual maturity is how you handle people who disagree with you or are harsh with you. Maintain your right to an opinion but respect their right as well. Remember that yelling and arguing never accomplishes anything good…nor displays gentleness!
- To be teachable…not unreachable. James 1:19-20 (Phillips)… In view of what he has made us then, dear brothers, let every man be quick to listen but slow to use his tongue, and slow to lose his temper. For man’s temper is never the means of achieving God’s true goodness. It’s a great recipe to gentleness…Be quick to listen…slow to answer…then you will have control of your temper!
- Be an actor…not a reactor. Romans 12:17,21 (NIV)…17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone…..21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Strength is found in gentleness. Jesus would call it “turning the other cheek.” No knee jerk reactions to others’ bad behavior. Don’t let others control your emotions!
- Be respectful. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)… But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to answer everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. Share what God is doing in your life (especially with those who do not know Jesus as Savior) …do it gently and respectfully…Let the Holy Spirit work through you!
So now what?
- Spend time going over the verses above. Assess how you do with gentleness…at home…at work…with neighbors…with those with different values and lifestyles.
- How do others see you based on the verse in Philippians 4:5…Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do others see Jesus in you by the way you respond to issues?
- Stay rooted in God’s Word and Pray for the Holy Spirit to produce gentleness in you.