Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Today we come to the fruit of the Spirit identified by Paul as gentleness. It “is the character that will show calmness, personal care, tenderness and the Love of Christ in meeting the needs of others.” It is the opposite of roughness and violence, endeavoring to force others to comply with one’s own wishes.
Since gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, it is quite obviously a characteristic of God Himself. Jesus assures us, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus is gentle and displays this gentleness throughout his earthly ministry.
Following in the footsteps of our Master, we are to be gentle in our dealings with believer and unbeliever alike. Paul writes to the Thessalonians that when he and his companions were among them, they did not “seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 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.” Paul’s love for the Thessalonians moved him to treat them with gentleness.
This same gentleness is to shape not only our conduct toward our fellow believers but to unbelievers as well. Paul writes to Timothy, “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…” God has treated us gently, not holding our sin over us but forgiving us freely in Christ. So we are to be gentle in turn.
Often, however, like Moses we grow angry and frustrated with others and fail to treat them with gentleness. When God told Moses to speak to the rock and provide water for the people, Moses was too consumed with anger to follow the Lord’s will. Instead of speaking to the rock he spoke to the people in anger, rebuking and chastising them. Then he struck the rock and water gushed forth – but Moses lost the privilege of leading the people of Israel into the promised land.
So how are we doing with those who make demands of us, irritate us, frustrate us, annoy us, and disappoint us? Are we showing gentleness, reflecting the character of Christ, or have we been rough and violent. I fear that it is often the latter – so let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.
We will have a time of silent confession following which I will pray on behalf of the congregation.
Our God and Father,
You have been gentle with us – showered your grace upon us time and again despite our sin and rebellion. But we have been harsh – unforgiving to our friends and enemies, cruel to those who have harmed us, short with those who have irritated us. So too our culture. Forgive us for the sake of Christ and restore us into the image of a perfected humanity, full of gentleness and restrain. For the glory of Christ our Lord,