Summary: We are all called to continually "Cultivate" the Fruit of the Spirit. Here we focus on Gentleness & Kindness.
Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Today we look at two Fruit of the spirit that truly seem to be forgotten characteristics: Gentleness and Kindness. I know that’s a disparaging remark, but it truly does seem so rare nowadays, that you almost find yourself surprised when someone conveys true, unmotivated, gentleness and kindness towards you. “Wow, what a nice guy!”
Its’ sad, but true, because these Fruit of the Spirit, just like all the others, are not natural human traits.
When you think of kindness, chances are that one of the first names that comes to mind is Mister Rogers. A year or two before Fred Roger’s death someone in Philadelphia where he lived stole his car. The news media got a hold of the story and before long all the local TV stations were broadcasting the story. Thousands of Philadelphia citizens saw the story, including the thief who stole the car. This criminal had dealt with his own share of difficult times, but he knew that when he was small Fred Rogers had been a positive influence on him.
Within 48 hours the car was back in the spot where he left it, along with a note saying "If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it!" (www.sermoncentral.com)
So what does it mean to have the Fruit of Gentleness and Kindness evident in our own lives? Let’s discover together.
1. The Gentle Spirit…
Colossians 3:12 (NLT)
Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Every week we begin by defining the word of the Fruit we are studying, but this week I want to give you a word in place of gentleness:
A. Gentleness can be defined as meekness.
KJV Gal 5:23: Meekness = Gentleness
Do you want to be meek? What image does that conjure up?
Meekness: 1 showing mildness or quietness of nature 2 showing submissiveness and lack of initiative or will
The KJV by translating the word as “meek” has led many people to an unfortunate misunderstanding of this virtue. Paul meant “the fruit of power,” but the English definition of the word “meekness” depicts someone who is weak and wimpy.
Paul’s concept was a person who has strength under control; “meekness” implies a weak person who acts timidly because he cannot help himself. If we switch from “meek” to “gentle” we have improved the situation, but we still have not caught the real force of the word.
The Greeks used this word to describe strong animals that were brought under control.
In fact, in the College Press Commentary:
Aristotle spoke of the “easy-tempered and easily domesticated” elephant; and Plato described a mighty and strong beast which could be tamed and fed by a man who learned how to handle it. Barclay says the best illustration is the watchdog “who is bravely hostile to strangers and gently friendly with familiars whom he knows and loves.”
There is something we need to understand when we speak of gentleness or meekness.
B. “Meekness is not weakness.”
- Robert Harold Schuller
It is not the cowering man, afraid of everything. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
There are two individuals in the Bible who are described as meek:
Numbers 12:3 (KJV)
(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
Matthew 11:29 (NLT)
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.
2 Corinthians 10:1 (NLT)
Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away.
I find it interesting that Paul has to explain himself here, because even then meekness is seen as cowering, and people think he talks bigger when he’s away. But in essence, Paul is saying he is chasing after Jesus’ meekness!
Both display the obedient response to the reins of a good horse, the gentle strength of an elephant, the ferocious courage of a watchdog to guard his master’s property. Their “meekness” was not weakness; it was a heart surrendered to God, a teachable spirit, a gentle strength.
(College Press Commentary)
Gentleness is power under control, it is power under God’s control. The domesticated animal allows the master to control them, we allow God to have control of us.