Fruits of the Spirit: Gentleness
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23.
Those of you who know me will know that ‘gentleness’ is not a word anyone would use to describe me. I have a naturally ‘outside voice’ and I prioritise good banter far above social polish. Whenever I hear the line “the meek will inherit the earth” somewhere in my head says “well good for them, what do the loud people get?”
Gentleness always seemed to me like a personality trait. You know the type: well-spoken, polite, probably shy at school and not the type you’d share a risqué joke with. But this is not the gentleness Jesus speaks of in Galatians 5. How do I know this?
Because God is also described as gentle - “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.” (2 Samuel 22:36) With God’s help, you and I can be gentle in everything we say and do without being a quiet pushover. We can be gentle…
1. In our conversations
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Ephesians 4:2) - If you’re like me, there’s always that banterful remark that I regret immediately when I realise I’ve gone too far. Or perhaps you’re the story-topper, getting lost in a conversational tennis match just firing ‘one-up’ anecdotes back and forth. Perhaps you need to be right or to have the last word. Whatever it is, let’s pray for 2016 that we would never have reason to look back on a conversation with shame.
2, In our friendships
If our friend is caught in a snare of sin, we are commanded to “restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1). That means, not acting self-righteous; not getting angry and telling them off; but gently pointing them back towards the only person who can help with anybody's sin.
3. In our evangelism
I find it so difficult to stay calm and polite when someone is challenging my faith. So much so, that I tend to avoid evangelistic situations for fear of doing more harm than good. So one of my main targets for 2016 is 1 Peter 3:15 - “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." Evangelism is not an argument we’re trying to win. Our words and behaviour is not appealing unless we are showing them Jesus. He draws people in, not us. So let’s model Jesus while we tell our friends about him!
This sounds like a lot, at least it does to me. But we have the greatest example possible to follow. Jesus Christ was the epitome of gentleness: “A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3)
When we are bruised from our suffering, Jesus will not hurt us further and he will not tell us to ‘man up’. He is gentle and comforting to our very souls. When your faith is waning and your flame is about to go out, Jesus will not let you go.
“The faintest spark of spiritual life will glow and grow when it comes into contact with Jesus.” (John Piper)
The Jesus of the bible we know and love, was a gentle man. But he was not quiet and he certainly was not a push over. Why not start 2016 by getting to know Jesus again, looking at the way he behaved and spoke to others and seeing for yourself the boldest example of gentleness.
Abby is from Cambridge and is currently in her final year of Psychology at Sheffield University. She became a Christian at 19 and has loved growing more in her faith at uni. Abby would love to travel the world forever and somehow tie that into clinical psychology and biblical counselling!