In Galatians 5:22-23 we read “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
I hope you noticed as you read these verses that GENTLENESS is a fruit of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is in control of a believer’s life, this fruit will be obvious. Growing up, I had a lot of anger issues. It didn’t take much to ignite that factor in my life. While I was in Bible College, I thought I had the respect of fellow students until one day one of them had the courage to say, “Leonard, you think the other students respect you but the truth is, they are afraid of your temper.” WOW! Was that ever an eye-opener? I took what she said to heart. Daily, for at least six months, I prayed and wept and one day I felt the spirit of anger leave. There are still things that trouble me and that I feel strongly about, but I don’t have to lose my temper and browbeat people. It was so interesting, as the anger moved out, real love took over.
Gentleness reflects the life of Jesus Christ in our relationships with everyone — Christians and non-Christians. I wonder what Paul was like before his encounter with Christ. Several times in his writings he refers to the quality of gentleness. For example, in 1 Timothy 3:3, he wrote “A man who has a good reputation is “not a bully but gentle.” I want to be a gentle man of God.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, some of whom were falsely accusing him, he said “Now I Paul, myself, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:1) If you continue reading in 2 Corinthians 10, you will see that Paul was not afraid to challenge his accusers. But he was gentle in the way he did. He pointed out their sins, defended his apostleship, and urged them to become mature Christians.
When Jesus went into the temple and saw what was taking place in God’s house, He did not hesitate to overturn the tables of the moneychangers, because they were guilty of violating God’s laws. Paul, in Ephesians 4:26 wrote “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” I believe this is the quality Jesus demonstrated when he overturned the money changer’s tables. There are a lot of things going on about us that are wrong, and contrary to God’s Word. We should speak up and stand up against them with a spirit of gentleness.
Paul was a gracious, sensitive, and fair-minded man. But when he was falsely accused as he was by some of the Corinthians, he defended himself without being defensive. In this way, he exhibited the meekness and gentleness of Jesus Christ, who often turned the other cheek and did not hesitate to confront the evils of His day. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul wrote, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” Are you and I becoming more and more like Jesus? The Holy Spirit who indwells us wants us to become more and more like Christ.
In 1 Peter 2:9, the apostle wrote “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, so that you may proclaim (exhibit, manifest, display) the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We are to be light bearers who display the fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes we have to be disciplined and determined with issues in our lives that do not honor our LORD. I had to deal daily for at least six months with my anger issue.
I don’t think it was easy for Paul to change, but he did. He did not want to tolerate any issue in his life that would detract from the likeness of Christ. He wrote to Timothy (3:1-5) “But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for that which is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people. A careful reading of this passage shows that Paul was saying we should manifest a spirit of gentleness, even toward such people. I seem to recall a definition of gentleness or meekness as “strength under control.” Do we make excuses for the weaknesses in our lives that are not Christlike or are we willing to deal with them with the help of the Holy Spirit? It would seem to me that all of us who know the LORD would want to be more and more like Him.
As we read what Paul wrote to Timothy, we see these attitudes or dispositions everywhere. They should not be a part of our lives as Christ’s followers.
I am not sure why I felt led to write this meditation. Maybe I was reflecting on my own life and how to deal with issues that irritate me. I need to remember that I am to bear the light of Jesus to believers and unbelievers alike. I pray that each of us would want to portray gentleness to others so they can see Jesus.
God bless you,