Summary: A gentle spirit gives the world a taste of the presence of Jesus. As we become as gentle as Jesus, we will treat others like He does.
Rev. Brian Bill
Pastors are not always known for their gentleness because many of us talk too long or preach too loud. On the other hand, people are not always real gentle with pastors either.
I heard about a minister who received a note from an 11-year-old boy that said, “I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished!”
A little girl became restless as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “If we give him the money now, will he let us go?”
Another pastor stood up to preach his first sermon. He was so frightened that he could hardly speak, but he had prepared a good, long message, so he just kept plodding through it. After a few minutes a man yelled from the back of the church, “We can’t HEAR you back here!” The pastor tried to preach louder, but a couple minutes later, the man called out again, “We can’t HEAR you!” The young preacher tried a little harder but now he was really nervous. Finally, the man at the back stood up and shouted, “We can’t hear a thing you’re saying!”
Just then another man in the front row stood up, turned around and said, “What are you COMPLAINING about? Just sit down and be thankful, or at least let me change places with you!”
As we come to the 8th defining characteristic of the Christ-life, we have to admit that gentleness is another description that is not very common among believers. It’s more like an exotic fruit that’s hard to find. We’ve heard about it, but don’t see much of it. But when we do, it emits an attractive fragrance that points people to Jesus.
Before we focus on the fruit of gentleness, let’s review some of the things we’ve been learning in our “Developing Your Character” series.
1. We cannot create fruit on our own. Galatians 5:17 reminds us that the sinful nature and the Spirit desire contrary things. The Fruit of the Spirit can only come from the Spirit of God. Fruit is not something we do; it’s what we display. Our responsibility is clear from Galatians 5:25: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” I hope you haven’t left here each Sunday thinking that you just need to “try harder.” The key is not to work but to worship, not to try more but to trust more.
2. The Fruit of the Spirit is a package deal. Galatians 5:22 uses the singular “fruit” and not “fruits.” It’s not a ‘pick and choose’ list like a buffet table to browse through. It’s a full-meal deal.
3. The focus is on Christian character. As we’ve said before, it’s important to distinguish between the gift of the Spirit which happens at salvation; the gifts of the Spirit, which have to do with service; and the graces of the Spirit, which relate to Christian character. Building Christian character must take precedence over displaying special abilities.
4. The fruit must be displayed both individually and collectively. We’re not given the Fruit of the Spirit just so some individuals can be more faithful or more gentle. If the church is to be the community God desires it to be, then these nine virtues should also work in our lives corporately as the body of Christ.
5. Not all fruit ripens at the same time. As we submit and surrender to the Spirit, keeping in step with Him, He will bring to maturity each of these Christ-like qualities, but some may take a little longer to become fully grown.
6. The Fruit of the Spirit should be the result of living the normal Christian life. These character traits are not meant to be the exception for believers but rather the norm!
7. Bearing fruit is a both a gift and a task. There’s a paradox in living for Christ, isn’t there? Fruit is always a gift, but it still requires some work on our part. We’ve been given the Fruit of the Spirit and yet we’re reminded in Galatians 5:16 to “live by the Spirit.” It’s ours, but we have to appropriate that which He has given us.
As has been our practice each week, let’s read Galatians 5:22-23 together: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
Most of us think that we understand what gentleness is all about. The dictionary defines it as being considerate, mild and soft. When we think of meek, we often think of weak. The biblical definition is much richer.
The Greek language, in which the New Testament was originally written, was extremely precise and expressive. When the Greeks developed a word, they not only gave it a careful definition, they almost always illustrated it. Their definition of gentleness was “power under control,” and they described it with a picture of a very powerful horse that had been tamed. Gentleness is like a wild animal with its power in check.