We have been looking at the nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit in the past two and a half months. We have covered love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and today, ‘gentleness’.
What is gentleness?
Galatians 5:22-23 says that the Holy Spirit works in us to be more like Christ (Ephesians 4:14-16), and part of the fruit, or results, of that work is gentleness. Gentleness also translated “meekness,” does not mean weakness. This is very important to remember. Gentleness requires a lot of strength and self-control. It takes a strong person to be truly gentle. The best example of gentleness is Jesus Himself.
Much of the prophecies foretelling Jesus’ life on earth and much of His actual ministry demonstrated humility, a focus on others to the sacrifice of Himself, and patient endurance of wrongs inflicted on Him.
In Isaiah, we read that Jesus will come with might and also that he will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11, ESV)
Turn to the Gospels and watch Jesus eat with the outcasts, heal the sick, touch the leprous, and weep at his friend Lazarus’s death. He lets women anoint him with expensive perfume; He ties a towel around his waist and washes his disciples’ feet.
Listen to Jesus inviting us into His ministry of meekness, of gentleness:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NLT)
The key words here are: “I am humble and gentle at heart”.
What are some examples of Jesus’ humble & gentle heart?
Telling the disciples off for forbidding the children Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.””
(Matt. 19:14-15; NKJV)
Watch a mother with her newborn baby and you get Jesus’ heart for little children. His loving, caring heart comes through His gentleness: “He (Jesus) took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:16, NKJV)
The scribes and the Pharisees wanted to stone the woman who was caught in adultery. Jesus challenged them to only throw a stone if any of never had never ever sinned. Not a single stone was thrown. So, Jesus lovingly looked at the woman and asked, ‘Has no one condemned you?’ The woman replied, ‘No one, Lord.’ To which Jesus, the Judge of the world, gave this verdict: ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11, NKJV) Wow! That is a powerful verdict! That is God showing His gentleness, mercy, and goodness to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Someone like you and me.
Gentleness means giving up the right to judge what is best for ourselves and others. Gentleness means that we accept that the rain falls on the evil and the just and that God may use methods we don’t like to reach our hearts and the hearts of others.
Jesus gave us the perfect picture of gentleness: “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5), and now He offers us His gentleness as a gift. If we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we will be filled with fruit of gentleness.