Summary: A look at the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness
Gal. 5.22-23 Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness
1. [Read text]. I’ve been thinking about this list we have been reading, these fruit of the spirit. And I’ve been wondering about the way they appear, the order they appear. And an image to capture the author’s intention. Is it a fruit bowl as we have here before us? All of these fruit are together. Love, joy, peace, etc. Or is it more like a staircase that you continue to climb? Or is the best image a tree where the first fruit are near the lower branches and the others get more and more to the top? In other words, I have wondered this week, if those listed at the front end of this text are the easiest to get, those at the back half, harder or are they all equally the same level?
2. Today we are talking about gentleness. At least that’s the word used in this translation. Looking at several other translations is the word “meekness”. Jesus, if you remember, called His followers to be meek. But meekness has often been misunderstood. Meekness has been seen as a “wimpy” characteristic, meaning that if a person is meek, they must be a door mat that people walk over. A businessman once had this understanding. After a sermon on Jesus’ statement, “the meek shall inherit the earth, “ he told his wife in the parking lot, “All I can say, is if the meek are going to inherit the earth, they are going to have to get a lot more aggressive.” You see, if there is any fruit of the Spirit that our male egos wrestle with, it’s this idea of being meek. I too wrestle with this ideal. Just recently, actually, I had opportunity to be gentle, and I missed it. If I was graded on meekness, I would have gotten an F. But Jesus, the most perfect human was meek and He called those of us who are His disciples to be the same. And Galatians tells us that the Spirit produces this kind of fruit.
3. But we need to understand that being meek doesn’t mean we lack power, rather, it is power under control, that is, under God’s control. Jesus lived His entire life that way. And we have His words recorded in Matthew 11.29, “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.” Once again, though, we don’t find this attribute very easy because it means we give up control. It means we allow someone else to control the events and actions of our life and if there is one thing we don’t want to give away, it’s control. Think about this fact, there are only two people in the whole of scripture that are called meek. Moses, in Numbers 12.3, “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)” (KJV) and Jesus in Matthew 21.5, ““Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”(NIV) Jesus did more than just call us to live a life of meekness, He also demonstrated how we could live it out.
4. So let’s look at that now. How do we live a life of meekness or gentleness? The answer is found in these words, “Living life under God’s control.” In every aspect of your life. And there are five areas that will help us practically live this out.
5. First, in our personality . . . we are to live under God’s control. A guy had troubles getting along with others. Finally, he turned for advice to a counselor friend. He asked, “Why doesn’t anybody get along with me?” “You have heard of the gift of hospitality?” . . . . “Yes” . . . . “Well, you have the antidote!” God doesn’t change our personality… he just brings it under his control.
6. That’s what He did with James and John, known as the sons of thunder. James and John wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans to destroy them because they did not receive Jesus (Luke 9:54). On another occasion they wanted to insure that they would could be properly enthroned in Jesus’ Kingdom . . . one on his right and the other at his left (Matthew 20:21). There were arguments amongst them as to who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46).
7. It’s John who writes the Revelation and calls himself a servant, a brother and a companion. No longer does he think of himself as fighting for top position, rather, he now has a gentleness and humility that did not exist prior to the filling of the Holy Spirit. God didn’t change his personality, God just brought it under His control.