When I gave birth to my son, Andrew, Elizabeth was only 18 months old so when my parents brought her to the hospital to meet her new brother, she thought he was a baby doll. She sat on the hospital bed beside me while I held my sleeping newborn. We told her to “Be gentle!” as she carefully patted his head. Her idea that he was a baby doll was soon to change. 😉 “Be gentle!” is a phrase you often hear around young children when they are “petting” a dog or “loving” on a new baby. We want them to contain their uninhibited energy.
While growing up, our neighbor had “gentled” one of his bulls – another way we use the word. The red Hereford bull would pull a small sleigh, and the ordinarily untamed animal even let me ride him. (There is a picture somewhere out there for proof, but even if I could have found it, I’m not sure I would have shared it in my nine-year-old-ish dorky glory. 😂) He was far from being without strength, yet he was able to control it.
Gentleness is the fifth fruit of the Spirit in the series as listed in Galatians 4:22-23. All of these character traits which we are told to cultivate and grow were exemplified to perfection by Christ when He walked this earth. He was all gentleness and yet all-powerful (omnipotent) being God incarnate.
This is an internal character trait where some of the fruit of the Spirit (such as longsuffering and goodness) are relational and others (love, joy, peace) are Matthew Henry (1662-1714) summarized gentleness as “such a sweetness of temper, and especially towards our inferiors, as disposes us to be affable and courteous, and easy to be entreated when any have wronged us.” Just being kind.
Gentleness is not weakness just as my story with the domesticated bull illustrated. Much like the fruit of the Spirit, longsuffering, gentleness takes self-control of your thoughts, words, and actions. Don’t be like the world, quick to lash out at others with sarcasm or harsh remarks. Bridle your tongue and reactions.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” (Emphasis is mine.)
1 Peter 2:21-23
When we read the above verses, can we say the same about ourselves? In our day there is so much unkindness. People always seem to be ready to get back at others. It’s hard to find an overabundance of gentleness unless you find believers who are truly striving to obey God’s Word.
Ways Gentleness Shows in Your Life
- Puts others first and 1) don’t act like you mind and 2) don’t act like you’re a hero.
- Extends grace, mercy, and love to others even those “difficult” people – just as Jesus does us.
- Doesn’t attack others with words who may look “wrong” in our eyes.
- Remembers we are ALL sinners (those who are believers are only so by the grace of God | Ephesians 2:8) and some have a harder time in this sinful world.
The Holy Spirit is more powerful than the devil and the flesh, so we *can* have victory in this. As you grow closer to the Lord especially striving to be more spiritually-minded and live an others-centered life instead of always thinking of self, then you will welcome gentleness. Practicing loving others will help us respond with gentleness. It will come naturally. Sarcastic and impatient remarks will be replaced with gentle and kind remarks.
“Be ye kind one to another…even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). It’s not whether they deserve it or not. We do all that we do for the glory of God. We are gentle and kind as Christ has manifested gentleness and kindness to us.
“Every situation in life requires a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.”
If We Lived with Gentleness Every Day
We can use this gentleness to point others to Jesus Christ through our words and actions. We can enjoy a more peaceful life by practicing gentleness. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to help you be gentle. Letting Him cultivate this fruit in our life will help make a difference in our homes, workplace, and overall area of life. Will you respond with gentleness today? 💕