“Gentleness today may be the single most misunderstood Spirit-produced virtue of the nine listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Two millennia later, gentleness is often used as a positive spin on weakness. But gentleness in the Bible is emphatically not a lack of strength, but rather the godly exercise of power. Gentleness does not signal a lack of ability but the added ability to steward one’s strength so that it serves good, life-giving ends rather than bad, life-taking ends” (David Mathis, “The Strongest Men are Gentle”).
Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow and our guest speaker Sam Acho, NFL player, writer, public speaker, and humanitarian, brought us an in-depth look at the meaning of gentleness as it appears in Galatians 5:22-25.
Galatians 5:22-25 NIV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
No one has ever accused me of being gentle. Born the third of four children, and the only girl, it was mandatory that I develop grit and take no prisoners in encounters with my brothers and their pals. It helped that our dad was a former boxer and shared his skill set with me. As an adult, I have been described as demanding and outspoken. And when I demanded our 16-year-old son be home by 10 p.m. on school nights, I was accused of being downright cruel. My son threw in “heartless” as he watched me rolling on the floor laughing at his dramatic response.
Thankfully, Josh unwrapped the meaning of gentleness by starting with what it is not. It is not violent … and I would add, nor is it mean-spirited nor being cruel at the expense of another. It is, however, something we should seek to model as it is becoming as rare as hen’s teeth in modern society.
Fortunately for us all, gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit that is graciously gifted to every Christ follower and modeled for us by the Holy Spirit.
Gentleness is listed second to last on that list in Galatians 5:22-25 … right before self-control. I do not believe this is a coincidence because self-control is mandatory for us to exercise any and all of the first eight fruit named there—but especially gentleness—as any parent or younger sister will enthusiastically attest to.
Ephesians 4:2 NIV
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t have to be violent, mean-spirited, or cruel toward others. You already possess the nine fruit of the Spirit and are equipped to live a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Are you sheathing your strength in kindness, humility, and gentleness, or is your pride loudly and harshly insisting you must be recognized as “right” and demanding compliance in the encounters you have with others?
First and foremost, become a child of God by acknowledging and accepting there is only ONE God—it’s not you and it’s not about what you want. Tell God you are sorry for your unbelief and your sins. Thank him for sending Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, to pay the necessary price for our sins (because the wages of sin is death and separation from God for eternity), and then ask him to accept you
as his own child, sending the Holy Spirit and the aforementioned gifts to live within you.
Second, tell your campus pastor about your decision and ask him to guide you as you begin your walk with God through Christ.
Lord, thank you for your love and for providing the one and only way for me to have fellowship with you from now through eternity. Please help me to live out the fruit of the Spirit all the days of my life and to lean into you through your Word, the Holy Bible, because it promises: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Teach me how to live my life for you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.
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