Growing Gentleness - Minding the Kings
Bible/ Devotion

Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness

A guest post on Gentleness by Melissa McLaughlin

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Gentleness – Divinely-Balanced Strength

When you hear the word “gentleness” what comes to mind?

One example that comes to my mind is that of my own children handling our beloved cats using a soft, steady, slow stroke to cuddle, nestle and shower them with affection. From kittenhood through the aged years, these memories of tenderness speak of their deep love for our treasured pets. Another picture of gentleness is that of an accomplished pianist who uses just the right touch on the keys of the piano to express the most intimate and deep emotions through the subtle shading of delicate notes creating an inexpressibly stirring mood through music.

If my children roughly grabbed the kittens or the pianist banged on the piano keys with a hammer, this would create a completely different scene and an averse response in my mind and heart. In fact, I would feel compelled to intervene as quickly as possible to stop my children from hurting another living creature and I would immediately cease watching or listening to the pianist who used a beautiful instrument for something so destructive.

The Power of Gentleness

In both cases, the gentle person actually wields remarkable power, but chooses to hold back out of love, grace and honor. Though the world often dismisses gentleness as weakness, true Biblical gentleness is actually strength in control.

God has given us many gifts and choices, including various types of power and the choice for how to exercise that power.

We have power in our words.

We have power in the way we wait.

We have power in the way we drive.

We have power in the way we express our emotions.

We have power in the way we complete our daily work.

We have power in the way we touch people and objects.

We have power in the way we respond to correction or hurtful circumstances.

Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness - Galatians 5:22-23

Godly Character

We see gentleness listed among the Godly characteristics defined as the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness ,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

When we display gentleness to others, our power is harnessed by God’s love, grace and honor, allowing His kindness to leave its imprint of mercy in our harsh, self-seeking world.

When considering the Fruit of the Spirit, we recognize gentleness, also known as meekness, as a high calling indeed. Gentleness is a critical quality for Christians because we know God has shown gentleness toward us.

We see in Isaiah 40:11 the gentleness of God described here as a shepherd cradling His lambs near His chest and lovingly leading those with young ones.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young.

Certainly, Jesus’ demonstration of gentleness as strength under control is most clearly seen as He hung on the cross to die for our sins. Jesus could have chosen to avoid this humiliating, painful, tortuous ending, but yet He yielded His will to the Father’s will.

Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness - Isaiah 40:11

We know that Jesus’ harnessed power is also revealed through His righteous anger as He cleared the temple by overturning tables of those who were wrongfully selling overpriced sacrificial animals to unsuspecting worshipers. Without a doubt, Jesus shows that gentleness is not weakness, but power in restraint, used in the right time, in the right way, according to God’s Word, the Bible, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Gentleness is most assuredly a God-quality, for through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, He has spared us the punishment we rightfully deserved as a sinful people in rebellion against His laws of righteousness. If God desired, He could use His mighty power to bring us to a quick and pitiful end and yet instead, He chose to send His own Son to save us.

Therefore, as followers of Christ, we desire to cultivate a lifestyle of gentleness out of gratitude for the gentle touch God has used in our lives and an eagerness to become more and more like Jesus, our powerful, gentle Savior.

We also know that the opposite of this quality is violence, abuse and destruction, so pursuing a life of gentleness is not just an ideal, but truly a necessity, for a lack of gentleness leads to a brutal and bitter end.

But how do we cultivate a spirit and lifestyle of gentleness?

Defining Gentleness

Interestingly, the definition of gentleness or meekness includes an element of surrender.

Both words, “gentleness” and “meekness”, originate with the Greek word prautés, meaning power with strength. In Merriam-Webster’s dictionary gentleness includes the phrases: kind, amiable / free from harshness, sternness, or violence / tractable or docile.

While meekness is defined as: enduring injury with patience and without resentment.

The HELPS Word study includes this final comment: For the believer, meekness (“gentle-force”) begins with the Lord’s inspiration and finishes by His direction and empowerment. It is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith.

Clearly gentleness is not a quality we can just drum up by trying harder or wishing it to be so.

Growing in Gentleness

Here are some suggestions for developing a spirit and lifestyle of gentleness:

1.Humble ourselves fully before a powerful, holy, sovereign God who has been merciful, gracious and gentle with us.

2. Ask the Lord to help us recognize and repent of any harshness, arrogance or pride.

3. Spend time reading the Bible, God’s Word, to help more of His Word anchor our thoughts, reactions and reflexes.

5. Spend time in prayer asking the Lord to decrease our natural selfish impulses so that He may increase in everything we say, do and think.

6. Ask the Holy Spirit to flood every thought, every action and reaction, every word, every touch, every moment with gentleness, a divinely-balanced virtue, showing a Godlike gentle-force with power in control. Power in His control.

Prayer

Please join me in prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We praise You for Your great and mighty power! As we see the greatness of Your hand in the heavens and earth that declare Your glory, we acknowledge that You alone are the Living God and You alone are worthy of all our praise! We thank you for the gentleness You have shown us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Though we didn’t deserve such mercy and grace, yet You hung there for us on the cross, oh Jesus, taking our place, dying for our sins, that we may be made righteous through faith in You and Your finished work on the cross. Give us a humble heart, a teachable spirit, willing to be corrected, willing to take the lower seat, willing to surrender to Your ways and Your will. May we grow in the gentleness of Jesus, a divinely-balanced strength, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, that we may look, talk and think more like Jesus, day by day. For Your glory! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness - 1 Timothy 6:11

What are your images of gentleness? Have any favorite scriptures that help you meditate upon this beautiful and Godly characteristic? Please share your thoughts and insights.

1 Tim 6:11 –  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Melissa - Growing in Gentleness

I am a wife of 28 years and a mother of three, residing in Pennsylvania.  At our church, I serve as a worship leader, worship musician and singer, help lead the prayer ministry, help lead mission work and have taught classes on prayer and missions. 

During desperate times in my life, when I felt I had no voice left to pray, I wrote my book and prayer guide titled:

In Dark of Night When Words Fail, Voice of Jesus Pray For Me

I pray it will be a blessing to you, as you seek to develop an ever-deepening scripture-based life of prayer!

Please join me on my blog for inspiration, Biblical teaching and prayer, as we seek to keep the fire of our faith blazing strong for Christ! https://melissamclaughlinheartsong.com

Additional Resources for this post:

Jesus Turns the Tables By Desiring God- https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/jesus-turns-the-tables

Bible Word Study- https://biblehub.com/greek/4240.htm

Bible Dictionary- https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/gentleness/

Gentleness By Ligonier Ministries- https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/gentleness/

Fruit of Gentleness and Self-Control By Yvonne Morgan- https://turningmountainsintomolehills.org/page/17/

Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness - Minding the Kings

8 thoughts on “Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness

  1. Great thoughts on gentleness! Come to think of it, Jesus, even coming to earth as a man was the biggest expression of gentleness! Philippians 2 summarizes it so well. He was in very nature God, yet he took on the nature of a servant, obedient unto death, instead of using His equality with God for His own gain/benefit. He emptied Himself, and made His strength nothing! What a compelling example! Praise God for His Word and work on our behalf! I pray I can grow in imaging Him, especially with my children.

  2. Wow, Melissa! This is great! I will never look at gentleness the same again! It’s always been so hard for Christians to attempt defining. You do such a beautiful job giving us the full picture of gentleness. I love all your points for growing in gentleness. And also the idea of harnessing…holding back the power we have…a type of restraint AND balance. It most certainly is found in humbling ourselves before God, asking for it, prayer and the Word. Thanks for sharing this Jennifer!

    1. Stephanie, what an excellent scripture connection to these thoughts on gentleness! Truly Jesus epitomizes the power and beauty of gentleness like no other. I pray with you that we may grow in His image!

  3. Karen, you are right, gentleness has always been difficult for Christians to define in a way that honors the power and loving restraint shown by our Lord. It is definitely a divine balance. Truly beautiful, truly rare and not easily displayed well. We need the Holy Spirit living, breathing and moving through us in order to demonstrate true Biblical gentleness. Help us Lord Jesus, be more like you, offering a gentle touch to the world around us in order to point others back to You, our Savior and King, who offers eternal gentleness and grace!

  4. From the opening paragraphs, you capture here the picture of true gentleness. The kitten and the piano stick in my mind, a vivid word picture. I love how you worded this definition of meekness: “True Biblical gentleness is actually strength in control.” The many examples you then listed provided depth of insight into all the places we might exercise gentleness – even in our driving. You pinpointed the specific prayers needed and meditations sought. Thank you for this tender guide into a subject that is most Christlike, for we can apply gentleness in ways we never considered. I hadn’t thought of courteous driving as gentleness in action on the highway, for instance, and since I live in an enormous city with notorious traffic, this is a significant word picture for me. Thank you, Melissa!

  5. Melinda, thank you for sharing your insights and reflections! I think we crave gentleness more than we realize. When we imagine simple scenarios in our lives carried out with no regard to gentleness, it is crushing. Like the image of the kittens or the piano. May we recognize more and more clearly the power we actually possess (even in the little things like driving), that it may be harnessed by the Holy Spirit and displayed with that divine balance of strength under control. Even if we feel no one else notices our gentleness, the Lord sees. May we honor our gentle Savior with lives lived with a Spirit-led gentleness that only comes from Him!

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