“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Which do you choose? Should I come to you with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit?” (1 Corinthians 4:21)
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness—these are seven fruits most of us admittedly need and want in our lives. Who doesn’t need a little more patience? Who doesn’t want perfect peace?
But gentleness? Among the list of the fruits of the spirit, gentleness seems…well, a little less important. It may conjure up ideas of a sweet gentle grandmother or someone who is weak and timid. We sometimes overlook gentleness as a second-string fruit.
That’s because our idea of what gentleness looks like in our lives is often skewed.
The word translated as “gentleness” in Galatians 5:23 is from the original Greek word, “prautes.” It is also translated as meekness or humility. It describes a condition of the heart, an internal attitude of tenderness and concern for the feelings and wellbeing of others. For example, a crying child could be picked up with roughness, and caused further distress, and or with gentleness that soothes and calms them. If a co-worker made a mistake, we could speak to them harshly, and hurt their spirit, or gently, with concern for their feelings and wellbeing.
Gentleness is often translated as “meekness.” In modern English, “meekness” carries a connotation of weakness and cowardliness. It is used to describe someone who is too afraid to stick up for themselves. This couldn’t be farther from the real meaning of gentleness or meekness. Christian gentleness comes from a place of power and strength. Jesus is described as gentle, but he carried within him the greatest power in the universe. Gentleness isn’t weakness. It is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is power that is controlled and used with tenderness.
“Gentleness is strength that is harnessed, channeled, and controlled to produce the good that God wants in your life” (www.lifeequip.com). God’s strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. Yes, he makes us strong and gives us power, but he expects us to control our strength and treat others with lavish gentleness. Gentleness is essential to accomplishing God’s purpose in our life. It’s a fruit of the spirit worth seeking.
Unquestionably, the wind has great power. It can be a destructive hurricane, or it can be a gentle, cooling breeze. Strive to be the breeze, not the hurricane.
Dear God, thank you for your Holy Spirit at work in my life to produce fruit that reflects your character. Thank you for loving me enough to transform me into your image. I pray today for your help in being gentle, rather than harsh or rough. Help me treat people with tenderness and care. People are fragile, and I want to be gentle in pointing people toward your love. Show me areas of my life that need changed in order for me to produce the gentleness you want in my life. In Jesus’s name, amen.