But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
We continue our series by examining Gentleness.
The word that we read as “gentleness” is also rendered as “meekness” on occasion. I think this is a bit of a problem, because it sometimes makes us think of weakness.
Meekness/Gentleness however is characterised by power, under perfect control.
Think for a minute about a wild and dangerous horse, which is tamed. It is still powerful, but now it has learned to use its power under control and without hurting anyone. (The technical term for taming a horse is actually “gentling” I believe.)
Gentleness as a Fruit of the Spirit means that we are controlled by God’s Spirit, and lead in the way of love and kindness. It does not mean we need to be weak, or quiet. It means we need to be controlled, and not hurt others.
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:24-26
In this verse, we see that the follower does not ignore or accept the sin, but he does not lash out or condemn the sinner either. He is gentle in his instruction, and loving in bringing the opponent back to God.
Jesus was gentle. He was loving to the woman caught in adultery, and the woman at the well. In both cases he told them what they needed to do, and taught them the error of their ways. However he did not punish them or lose his temper with them. He was controlled.
He was also controlled when he turned over the tables in the temple, and when he spoke very harshly against the Pharisees, and condemned them for their hypocrisy. He was controlled in his anger, and his hatred for sin. He was gentle with the sinner.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” - Isaiah 40:11
God is infinitely gentle in his love and dealings with us, and we need to learn to take on that gentleness, and not condemn or judge those around us. We are not to be doormats, but use the power and authority we have been given in a loving and gentle way.