Summary: If you learn anything about gentleness, please understand that real gentleness requires supernatural strength. In fact, the way to be gentle is to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Orange you glad you came to church today? Fruit is the outward expression of an inner nature. When you see an orange hanging on a tree, you can safely assume, that’s an orange tree. The reason you can identify the tree is because of its fruit. Jesus said the same thing about people. He said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16) When you see these nine personality characteristics in someone, you can safely assume that they are a Jesus tree…I mean a Jesus-person.
Let’s look at our list again. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Today we’re going to talk about the fruit of gentleness; it is also translated “meekness” in some Bibles. So, in this message, I will be using both words interchangeably to describe the same fruit. To better understand a word, it’s helpful to know what the opposite meaning is. What would you consider to be the opposite of gentleness? The opposite of gentleness is roughness and violence. Our hearts go out to the victims of the terrible shooting rampage in Aurora, Colorado. I received an email yesterday that the brother of a friend of mine was in the theater with his two teenage daughters. They survived, but my friend’s brother died in the shooting. If there was ever a time when our nation needs to be filled with people who are filled with the Fruit of the Spirit, it is now. The moral fiber of our nation continues to unravel, and we need to seek the face of God for a national spiritual awakening.
That kind of mass violence is the opposite of kindness, goodness, and gentleness. The world without Christ considers gentle people to be weak people, losers, doormats. A few years ago, Robert Ringer wrote two best-selling books that even encouraged people to be aggressive in the dog-eat-dog business world. He wrote Winning Through Intimidation and then he followed it with Looking Out for #1. But what the world needs desperately is more gentleness. People are fragile: They must be handled with care.
As we think about gentleness, I want you to ask yourself two important questions.
I. AM I STRONG ENOUGH TO BE GENTLE?
If you learn anything about gentleness today, please understand that real gentleness requires supernatural strength. In fact, the way to be gentle is to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Let me clear up two misunderstandings about gentleness or meekness.
A. Gentleness isn’t weakness—It’s strength under control
The Greek word for meekness and gentleness is praus. It’s the word Jesus used in the Beatitudes when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5). The best way to understand the meaning of this word is to know how it was used in the Greek language. It didn’t mean “weak;” in fact it was used to describe a wild, powerful horse that had been trained to be ridden. We call it “breaking” a horse. A trainer has to break the stubborn, unbridled nature of the horse in order to get it to a place where it will submit to a bridle and a saddle. When the Greeks referred to a horse that had been trained, they used a verb to say the horse had been “meeked.” They used the exact word, praus, the same word used for the fruit of the Spirit of gentleness.
Corbin Preifert, is a member of our church and a great guy who is still sharing his faith at 92 years young. A couple of years ago, he invited me to drive him up to Mt. Pleasant to visit the Preifert factory. They make farm equipment that is sold all around the world. It was an interesting trip and I got to meet Corbin’s nephew, Bill, who now runs the company. I also got to meet Radar, a Belgian draft horse, who, for a few years held the Guinness World record for being the tallest horse in the world. They measure horses to their shoulders, and Radar’s shoulders tower at 6’ 7 ½ inches, and he weighs around 2,400 pounds. When he lifts his head, he could bump it on a basketball rim. As I walked up to this massive horse, I was amazed by his gentleness. Even though that horse had the strength to hurt me, or even kill me, fortunately, he had been “meeked.” He walked over to me and let me rub his huge nose and pat him on his massive neck. His hoofs were seemed to be as big around my head; he could have crushed my feet if he had stepped on me. But he was completely gentle—a gentle giant.