“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
When I look around, I often see an intolerance for gentleness. In both the church and the world today, I see a lot of pride and bravado. There’s a lot of debating and convincing, but there’s not a lot of humility and listening. In a year where all of us are stressed and struggling, we need gentleness more than ever, yet it seems to be in short supply.
Gentleness is another characteristic that we can try and fake, but it never lasts for very long when we do. If the Holy Spirit isn’t growing this within us, we can come off looking dismissive or become a doormat for others to stomp all over. Jesus was gentle, but he wasn’t passive. He was meek, but he wasn’t weak. And, through the Holy Spirit, we can follow in his footsteps.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV)
Lately, I’ve been asking myself questions to try and better understand stories better. I also have been doing this with the Bible to try and put myself in someone’s shoes.
For example, in the scenario mentioned in the verse above, I ask myself how I would want to be restored if I had been caught in sin. I know that we all sin, but being found actively in the midst of sin and being confronted by someone about it is not pleasant. That’s a really touchy subject. There have been times when I have been confronted brutally and it was crushing. Other times, friends have lovingly walked me through the restoration process—I’m so grateful for the gentleness they displayed.
This year has been filled with a lot of division, but we as the church can choose a different way. Many people are grieving so much and our gentleness could potentially go a long way in helping restore and revitalize them. The world is known for its pride and bravado, but we can choose the way of meekness, just like Jesus did.
Gentleness is a characteristic I know comes from God because I’m not generally prone to be gentle with myself or others. My first response tends to be one of harshness, caring more about being “right” or being “truthful” instead of caring how my words are received by another. But that’s not at all how God is. May we be more like him today!
How have you experienced the gentleness of God? The gentleness of others?
What does gentleness practically look like for you?
To go Deeper: Read The Fruit of the Spirit isn’t in the Produce Aisle,
Check out A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls for how to answer others gently in this divisive time.
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