22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the Holy Spirit wants to work in and through us to cultivating Christ like character in our lives. One of the nine virtues of the fruit of the Spirit that He wants to cultivate in our lives is that of gentleness. Unfortunately, gentleness is something that is severely lacking in our current culture. The reality is that gentleness is something we all want but very few of us give. We want and even expect other people around us to be understanding, kind, and gentle but rarely do we lead with gentleness and reciprocate it in our relationships. So what is gentleness? The dictionary defines it as being considerate, mild and soft. As a result, when we think of gentleness we often associate it with weakness, seeing it as being a push over or a door mate. But growing in gentleness does not mean becoming weak but rather walking in wisdom as we walk in obedience to God’s Word. Sadly so often we live our lives based on fear instead of faith. In this case, we fear being a doormat so instead of leading with love and gentleness we are gruff and rough with people. And while we initially think it will protect us from the fear of being used or controlled, what it actually does is hurt the hearts of others and lead to the loss of relationship, lowliness, and isolation. The very thing we were afraid of happening is what we actually create. Letting your fears control and dictate how you live leads to creating and cultivating those very fears. As I have already stated in a previous devotion when it came to language the Greeks were extremely precise and expressive. When they developed a word, they not only gave it a careful definition, they almost always illustrated it. Their definition for gentleness was “strength under control,” was used to describe a wild stallion that had been tamed or broken. The tamed stallion still has the same power only now it was productive power instead of destructive. God wants to cultivate gentleness in our lives so that instead of being wild animals who end up hurting and bruising others we can help and bless them. Being gentle does not mean being weak and wimpy, it means to have strength but to have it under control. Now the Bible is clear that those who call Christ their master will display gentleness. Philippians 4:5 challenges Christians too, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” As we walk closely with Him, His gentleness should rub off on us. In fact spending time walking and talking to God is the only way that we can be gentle. When it comes to gentleness the Bible gives us two tasks:
- Pursue it.
We can’t just sit back and hope that we’ll become gentle. 1 Timothy 6:11 says, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” The word, “Pursue” means to chase after it, to make gentleness a priority worth pursuing. So let me ask you, what are you pursuing? Sadly many of us in our pursuit of happiness are pursuing destructive things instead of constructive things because we are pursuing our agenda instead of the Almighty’s agenda. We end up pursuing poison instead of that which is profitable and productive. Not only are we called to pursue gentleness but second we are called to:
- Put it on.
Once we find gentleness, we’re to clothe ourselves with it. Through an act of the will we decide to put it on, much like we put on our clothes. Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” The problem is that many of us view the garments of gentleness as outdated and old fashioned. Today Christians we want to be hip and cool because we care more about how we look than how we live. That is why when it comes to Gentleness today we could call this the forgotten or the forsaken fruit because gentleness is something we see as a weakness instead of a strength. When we look at Gentleness through a worldly lens instead of the Word’s we will see it as a burden instead of a blessing. That’s because a worldly lens views life from the perspective of self instead of service. We end up reject gentleness because we don’t want to get used and abused, but instead of us getting walked on we end up stepping on and hurting others, instead of helping and serving them. That’s why today there are more hurtful horses than humble ones. So let me ask you are you looking at life through the lens of the world or the Word? Is your life built around self or serving? Is your primary focus me or ministering to others. Where would you say that you spend the majority of your time talents and treasures, on self or serving the Savior? Gentleness is not just a principle but something we should put into practice in our lives. Too many of us have become content with preaching Biblical principles instead of practicing them. As a result, our kids have become disillusioned with Christianity and are walking away from Christ’s church in droves because as parents what we are projecting are principles on paper instead of practices in person. Look Christianity is practical it should show up in our personal relationships. What if today you chose to give God’s gift of gentleness? Who do you know that needs a gentle word or a gentle hug? Don’t let the culture cultivate and conform your heart and cause it to become hard, instead let Christ be in charge and let Him grow you in gentleness. For it is the gentle saints that are the true giants because they are not just strong, they use their strength to serve, building up others instead of bruising them.