Fruit of the Spirit—Gentleness
(Part eight of a series on Galatians 5:22-23)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is…Gentleness…”
Galatians 5:23 (NKJV)
We have come to the penultimate ‘fruit of the Spirit’ as listed by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia—the fruit of gentleness. Although written almost 2000 years ago, this ‘fruit’ is as relevant today as it was to the people to whom it was first written.
Without doubt, gentleness is a beautiful quality for us to possess, and it takes time to develop and mature. Our Saviour and High Priest, Jesus Christ, had this quality in abundance. He set a perfect example during his ministry on earth by showing compassion and gentleness to the marginalized of society—the people who were looked down on by the religious establishment of his day. Lepers in particular were ostracised from society, and anyone found touching one was rendered unclean according to the Mosaic Law. Jesus, however, gently touched a leper and healed him of this dreaded disease (Luke 5:12-13). Jesus also loved children and, although busy, was not averse to gently taking them up in his arms and blessing them. (Mark 10:13-16). This example was a powerful lesson to his disciples to be gentle—not only to little children, but to all people that they would ultimately minister to.
Another account of Jesus’ gentleness and sensitivity is to be found in John’s gospel, chapter eight. Here we read about a woman who is brought to Jesus, having been caught in the act of adultery. The Scribes and Pharisees hoped to trick Jesus into saying something that they might use to accuse him. But Jesus turned the tables on them by writing certain things on the ground, and then asking them to throw the first stone—if they were without sin. All accusers walked away, realising that they also were guilty of sin, and their hypocrisy was exposed. Instead of insulting and humiliating this woman, Jesus was gentle with her and encouraged her to sin no more.
The prophet Isaiah wrote about a time when God will “…feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” (Isaiah 40:10-11). The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Thessalonica wrote, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you…because you had become dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8) Paul informed Timothy that “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all…” (2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Timothy 3:3). Paul also exhorted Titus to “Speak evil of no one, to be peaceful, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:2).
The way to a truly gentle and peaceful life is to be found in Jesus Christ, and in receipt of the gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to be willing to lay aside our selfish motives and desires and be submissive to God’s perfect will. He is patiently waiting for us to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Heavenly Father, help us to lay aside our selfish ways and be renewed in mind and heart by the indwelling of your precious Spirit. Thank you for this beautiful fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, in which we desire to grow. In Jesus’ name.
Study by John Magowan
Grace Communion Lisburn
Ballymacbrennan School Hall
129A Saintfield Road