The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness November 22, 2009
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
What is Gentleness?
Mild and gentle friendliness
“Meekness” – gets a bad rap because it rhymes with weakness – meekness is almost the exact opposite of weakness.
Nicky Gumbel defines it as “Harnessed strength”
Images of gentleness – harnessed Clydesdale
Man holding infant
Matthew 5: 5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
– Jesus before Pilate: the creator of the universe is standing before the governor of a backwater province of an empire that “controlled” a small part of a little planet for a few years. And Pilate thinks he is in charge!
"Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"
Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.
Jesus at the resurrection – has just defeated death & sin – rose victorious – He simply says Mary’s name.
This Harnessed Strength is not the dipolomacy of Theodore Roosevelt who said “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
The strength that we have is not the threat of violent action. It is an inner strength of having nothing to prove. We have a confidence that is unshakable, therefore we do not have to yell and scream and force our way. We know that in the end, God with have his way, so we can be gentle.
If Gentleness is harnessed strength, the opposite would be unharnessed strength – or the proverbial bull in a china shop.
Do we believe in gentleness? – often times we think that what truly needs to happen to see some change is a big stick wielded loudly. Whether we think it “works” or not, we are called to gentleness – to be gentle is to trust God.
Call to gentleness:
1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Need for gentleness: we are more fragile than we appear – there are times that we think that people are impervious, so we are rough with them to break through their tough exterior.
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Gentle in Evangelism
1 peter 3: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
Gentle when instructing
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, (gentle) submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Gentle when a friend is Sinning
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Gentle in arguments
2 Timothy 2: 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
Sting: “History will teach us nothing”
Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing
Jesus: "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. - Matthew 5:25
God’s Gentleness –
When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he has to straighten out some bad behavior and some bad theology – they are none too pleased – they say, “Paul is pretty timid when he’s with us, but then he gets bold in his letters, when he’s far away!”
Paul hears about this and writes back to them, calling them back into righteousness and right belief in 2 Corinthians 10:1 “By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.”
“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you”
Is Jesus Gentle? Is God Gentle?
Jesus dealings with his disciples – sheer gentleness.
He enters Jerusalem on a donkey, not a warhorse.
John White: Missionary Doctor in Bolivia – having to sew up his young son’s lip with no freezing – sometimes God’s healing, his gentleness feels like violence to us – it is no less gentle or healing.
How Does the Spirit Grow Gentleness Within Us?
Strength – Ephesians 3: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
When we understand our strength in God, we have the power to be gentle.
How do we help cultivate gentleness?
Pray to know the love of Christ
Meditate on your position with Jesus
Remember the Gentleness that God has for you.
Practice Gentleness – try it!