This past Sunday I had the honor of teaching on ‘Gentleness’ during our Pathway to Growth series. As I started the message I asked the following:
Think about a time when someone was gentle to you when they could have responded differently – how did that feel?
Recall a time when God was gentle to you and He could have responded with other than love and grace and mercy? – how did you live differently because of God’s gentleness?
Of all the fruit of the Spirit (or the unpacking and manifestation of love), Gentleness stands out as a key to better relationships, deeper and true worship and a growing heart for God. As time goes on, it is apparent to me that our hearts can become more and more calloused towards others. This impacts our relationships and our connection with God.
- When was the last time you fought being hard or harsh and went for gentleness?
- When was the last time you were open, real and raw before God in your prayer, bible reaching and worship?
- When was the last time you were deeply gentle?
Gentleness as a fruit of the Spirit is the result as the Holy Spirit filling and impacting you. It is not a ‘fruit of the flesh.’ The flesh is harsh, abrasive, vindictive and calloused. The Holy Spirit invites us to develop His fruits in our lives. Note the invitation to us at the end of this passage:
Galatians 5: 22 – 25
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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)
What do you hear God saying to you about your flesh and how you should live?
- Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV)
A heart that responds to people in a calm and mild way defuses difficult situations, much like a fan keeps a motor from overheating. Gentleness creates room for wise and thoughtful response to conflict and aggression.
- James 3:17 & 18
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (NIV)
I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle, If I raise my voice may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. – Max Lucado in ‘God Whispers your Name’
Gentleness is a humble and meek attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, and at the same time being free of any desire for revenge. We all need to grow in our demonstration of an attitude and heart of gentleness and meekness. Gentleness is something worth striving for. We think of climbing ladders to success, financial advancement, educational pathways, but how about growing deeper in being gentle and kind? Instead of losing, the gentle gain. Instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, the gentle come out ahead.
We struggle with gentleness if we do not understand what it is.
In our rough and rugged individualism, we think of gentleness as weakness—being soft and virtually spineless. Not so. Gentleness includes such enviable qualities as having strength under control, being calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere, emitting a soothing effect on those who may be angry or otherwise beside themselves, and possessing tact and gracious courtesy that causes others to retain their self-esteem and dignity. Instead of losing, the gentle gain; instead of being ripped off and taken advantage of, they come out ahead.
– Chuck Swindoll
Definition: Gentleness is power under control
The Greek word for gentleness comes from two words—prautēs and epieikēs. prautēs means humility, to consider others, meekness. It usually refers to things, objects, or people—words that are gentle, soothing medicine, soothing actions, soothing feelings.
This word might refer to tame animals (lion, horses) or charitable and generous people. prautēs is something you expect from your friends.
epieikēs is a word used to express a balanced, intelligent, decent outlook on life—a good citizen, an admired person, a trusted individual—these all fall under the heading of epieikēs.
Plato called this the cement of society. So the Greeks defined gentleness as power under control, and their word picture was that of a horse that had been tamed. You see, gentleness was to them a powerful animal whose passion and power was fully and completely under control.
A disease out of control can destroy the body and even kill the individual. The same disease under control, however, can produce a vaccine that saves lives. Power under control.
- The Greatest Example of Gentleness: Christ’s Example: Power under control.
True gentleness and meekness 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.
The spirit of gentleness and meekness is the Spirit of Christ, who defended the glory of His Father, but gave Himself in sacrifice for others. Leaving us an example to follow,
- I Peter 2: 21 – 23
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (NIV)
Jesus did not raise a finger or give a single reply in His own defense, though at any time He could have called legions of angels to His side.
Indeed force and harshness may bring short term gains, but ultimately destroy relationships. Gentleness, however earns respect and builds trust. If others know you are gentle, they will be freer to relate to you honestly and openly. They will feel safe in trusting you…..and the Holy Spirit will be able to empower you all the more and use you in more meaningful ways.
Grateful for you,