28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
As we continue in Galatians 5 looking at cultivating Christ like character we come to the eight virtue in the fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness. Gentleness is something we all want but very few of us give, we want people around us to be understanding, kind, and gentle, but are we? And what really is gentleness? The dictionary defines it as being considerate, mild and soft. As a result, when we think of meek, we often think of weak, but the biblical definition is so much richer. In the Greek, the language in which this passage in Galatians 5 was originally written, words were extremely precise and expressive. When the Greeks developed a word, they not only gave it a careful definition, they almost always illustrated it. By painting a mental picture, people not only understood the meaning of the word but could gauge when they were missing the mark. Their definition of gentleness was “power under control,” The word was used to describe a wild stallion that had been tamed or broken. The tamed stallion still retained all of its power only now it was productive instead of destructive. God cultivated the fruit of gentleness in our lives so that instead of being wild animals who end up hurting and bruising others we can help and bless them. To be gentle does not mean to be weak and wimpy, it means to have strength, but to have it under control. Interestingly, only two people in the Bible are called gentle, Jesus and Moses, and neither of them were weak men. Both were very strong masculine men, but their power was in the hands of the Master. When God “gentles” us, we become powerful under His control. Whose hands are the reigns of your life in, is your strength controlled by self or the Savior? Meek is not weak, after all Jesus in the sermon on the mount said: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”Now the Bible is clear that those who call Christ their master will display gentleness. Philippians 4:5 challenges Christians to, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”As we walk closely with Him, His gentleness will rub off on us. In fact, that’s 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. Sadly, very few Christians make gentleness a priority. Instead of letting Christ cultivating God’s gift of gentleness in our lives we get caught up in being gruff. Then we turn around and blame our insensitivity on others, claiming that they make us angry. So, as we refuse to take responsibility for what is in our heart and the hurt it has caused we create deeper hurt. The truth is other people don’t make us angry, the anger was already in us they just put pressure on us and what was in us came out of us. Like a skunk or a rose, when you put pressure on them they will give of a sent from within them. You don’t make the smell it was in them all along. So what scent is coming out of your heart when the pressure is on, is it the fragrance of God’s gentleness or the stench of self? 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 says: “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. 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 reject gentleness because we don’t want to get used and abused and 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, what about you, do you see gentleness as a gift from God or a gag gift? Is your power under Christ’s control or out of control? Are you helping or hurting those around you?