When you meet someone gentle in spirit, how does it make you feel? There is something compelling about that gentle person that draws us in. Their gentleness tugs at our hearts and minds. The fruit of gentleness doesn’t hurt, rather it is a soothing balm that caresses our souls, minds and hearts. There is also humility to the person that says, I am equal to you, we are no different. A gentle person draws us, includes us in his or her circle of “family”.
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
Is it Meekness or Gentleness?
The Greek word prautes means tame.
We have an 8-month Black Labrador Retriever. He can be mischievous, rebellious, naughty, abounding in energy and excitable. If he had his way, he would chew on everything and jump all over people while excitedly greeting people. Over the months we have had him, we are teaching him good manners; that chewing shoes and jumping on people is not acceptable behaviour. He hasn’t got it all figured out, but he is much calmer and has learned to control his excitable nature. Our pooch knows the pigeons are off-limit and doesn’t go after them. Now for a retriever that is remarkable. But the stray kittens are another matter! His calm and gentle disposition doesn’t mean he isn’t strong. When he races across an open field, his strength is evident. But that energy is now harnessed.
We too are like that animal that needs to be tamed. When we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, He controls our temperament to live in harmony with others, but more than that, to extend the gift of friendship, love and mercy even to those we think are unlovable. We are no longer “roaring lions” but “purring kittens”.
Where Do We Go to Learn Gentleness?
Jesus was the ultimate Gentleman. He harnessed all the energy and power of heaven to come and live among us as a man. He put it on hold for those 30 some years he lived on earth. The “Great I Am” stood before his slaughters and didn’t retaliate and he taught his followers to “turn the other cheek”, “to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us.” (Matthew 5:44). We have the perfect example of meekness in Christ Jesus.
Jesus described himself as gentle, “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.”- Matthew 11:29.
The Holy Spirit works in our lives. Without control of the Holy Spirit, we have the potential to be uncontrolled, destructive, obnoxious human beings. It is the Holy Spirit that produces the fruit of gentleness in our lives.
What does Gentleness Look Like?
Gentleness is calmness, holding our affections and passions in check, in an even balance. It is the external evidence of a mild disposition. Peter had much to learn about gentleness. It was impetuous Peter who drew his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane. Cutting off someone’s ear was not outside his realm. But what did Jesus say? “Put your sword back in its place.” “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26: 52-53) He tells Peter that a milder, meeker disposition is required and to follow his example. Eventually, Peter did learn that meekness was better than the sword for after Christ’s death he shepherded the flock. That takes strength, but also a gentle hand.
What does gentleness look like? It looks like Jesus. Let’s follow in his footsteps and ask the Holy Spirit to mould us into what we ought to be.
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