Fruit of the Spirit — Gentleness
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In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit, saying, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
These traits are not gifts from God but rather characteristics cultivated within the believer as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, only believers can genuinely embody these traits through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we ask the Father for His help, He will give us the strength and ability to do all things that align with His will—and it is always God’s will that we demonstrate the fruit of His Spirit because they represent His power working in us.
That’s not to say that a non-believer cannot demonstrate these traits at times; however, their motives are self-serving, whereas the believer is motivated by the power within them from the Holy Spirit, focused on serving God’s kingdom and doing His will.
Gentleness is soothing, welcoming, and a sign of humility. We see the greatest example of this in Scripture from Jesus. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 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.”
It’s in Jesus’ character to be gentle and humble to everyone. He tells us that’s who He is. Jesus tells us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet because His gentle nature creates peace in the believer’s soul that helps us be teachable and at ease with God’s plan and purpose.
For many, it’s easy to be gentle toward people who are kind or already showing you gentleness, but what about those who are challenging to get along with, hold opposing views/opinions, or are unkind? In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul addresses how to respond to those situations. “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change their hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.”
When the believer demonstrates gentleness in the face of adversity, they humbly set aside their own agenda and self-preservation to put the needs of others above their own. The goal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for those separated from God to be reconciled with Him through a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The believer’s job is to share the Gospel and, through these interactions, mirror the gentle nature of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit must change the heart of a non-believer, while the believer must actively demonstrate Christ's love.
Jesus gives us an example of how to live out 2 Timothy 2:24-26 with his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. He gently rebuked her sin, never shamed her or spoke harshly to her. He never affirmed her sin or made excuses for her, yet through His gentle words, He redirected her heart and showed her the truth. As a result, she was transformed by Jesus and told the people of her town what had happened. They too, came to see Jesus and were also brought to a saving faith in Jesus.
With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the believer can demonstrate godly gentleness just as Father God does with His children. God’s gentle Spirit is freely given through the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ, so we must keep our attention and focus on Jesus and His instruction and example. The Holy Spirit provides direction and discernment when dealing with difficult people or situations, and it is only through His transformation within the believer that one can demonstrate the gentleness of the Lord.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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