Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
When you think of someone who is gentle, what comes to mind. The first thing that comes to my mind is a gentleman. My recollection of what a gentleman should be includes opening doors for people, being kind and courteous at all times, soft-spoken and looking after the cares of others before himself. He would be humble and not boast of his accomplishments. He would consider helping anyone who has a need. He would take care of his family and their needs, finding ways to discipline that were not demeaning or hard to follow. He would be a friend to all and would have few enemies. He would always take the high road and stay away from disputes or arguments unless he felt he could bring peace into the situation. Just an all-around nice guy!
The man described above seems to be lost in our world today. Now we see everyone out for their own gain, arguments and harsh words abounding, and no one able to make peace. People are looking to improve themselves first and will roll over anything in their way. They boast of what they have done, even if it has hurt others. Their families are torn apart or are ruled with an iron fist. The gentleman is lost – so is the fruit of gentleness.
I came across the following definition of gentleness back when I did this original study in 1990 and would like to share it with you. Gentleness is a disposition to be gentle, soft-spoken, kind, even-tempered, cultured and refined in character and conduct. Gentleness has humility as a trademark (I bet you knew humility had to come in as a part of the Spirit’s fruit somewhere!). Isn’t that a beautiful definition?
The person who is full of this fruit is living in Philippians 4:8, always thinking on those things that are lovely, pure, honest, true, just, virtuous, praiseworthy and of good report. As a result, those are the things that come out of him. I did an extensive study on this particular verse. You can find that study HERE if you’d like. This verse is perfect to describe the thought process of the one who is gentle.
The Greek word used here is chréstotés. It is translated goodness, good, kindness or gentleness. This word is derived from a word that means useful or profitable. It speaks of someone who is fit for the Masters use, profitable to God. This is someone who meets real needs without being harsh. Isn’t it beautiful how we can pull so much meaning out of the Greek when we take the time. Now let’s take a look at some of the scriptures when this particular Greek word is used to pull get a better picture on what this fruit of the spirit provides for us.
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
“The riches of His goodness.” That goodness is what led you to repent of your sins and be saved! God’s goodness is the opposite of our wickedness. Remember what Isaiah said? My righteousness is as filthy rags (Is 64:6). I was not good – God’s goodness is what drew me to want to be good. His goodness showed me there was another way to live – a good way. His goodness attracted me until I decided to get rid of my sin – my filthy rags – and take on His goodness, His righteousness.
The fruit of goodness is what people see in us that makes them wonder why we are different. When we display this fruit, the unsaved see something different, something good in us. They see humility instead of pride, politeness instead of rude, even-tempered instead of a hothead. They compare that to the rest of the world, and they want that goodness for themselves. The Holy Spirit draws them and they come to repentance. Do you now see how valuable this fruit of the spirit is?
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Remember, this word gentleness is translated goodness most of the time. We look at passages with goodness in them to get a picture of what this gentleness entails. This verse tells us that goodness is the opposite of severity. God’s severity is what cuts off those who fall away from God. His goodness is what keeps us! But Paul says here that we must remain in His goodness or His severity will cut us off as well.
For those of you who may believe in eternal security, here is a verse that you must come to terms with. There is no second guessing what Paul is saying here. We must continue in His goodness! What does that mean? To me, it means we must continue to do the good things that God has asked us to do. In another place, Jesus says only those who do His commands, or the will of the Father, will see the kingdom of God. We all have to make sure that we continue to do those things God asks us to do until the day He comes to take us home. There is no retiring from God’s workforce!
2 Timothy 2:24-26
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
We must not strive but be gentle. Strive means to devote serious effort or energy, or to struggle in opposition. Both of these definitions oppose gentleness. The gentle person will give serious energy to something, but it will be done behind the scenes so as not to attract attention. The gentle person will not struggle if they are opposed to something. They will do everything they can to maintain peace while looking for a compromise or an alternative.
Notice once again that gentleness is tied to repentance. This can be no coincidence.
God’s gentleness, as we have seen, is a key to our repentance. He is kind, good and
gentle with us until we come to the decision to confess our sins and turn away from
them. Our gentleness with those who are not saved will be a beacon of light to them. It
will show them that we are not judgmental. We will be kind to them and draw them
with love. The fruit of gentleness once again will lead a soul to Christ.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
God’s wisdom is gentle. He imparts wisdom to us, and that wisdom should always be
gentle to others. We should never allow the wisdom from above to give us a superior
feeling, or a feeling that we can do anything but good with it. This wisdom is given to
edify and exhort fellow believers. We should always do this with the gentleness of God.
He does not come down with an iron fist or withhold His tender mercy from us! Why
should we ever do anything out of strife or contempt? All that we do should be with this
fruit of gentleness, doing what is right and just to all, with a spirit of humility.
5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
These last three portions of scripture show us what gentleness looks like in real life. It
helps the person who hates us, it feeds our enemy and it loves and blesses those that
curse and persecute you. When we look at these scriptures, we can see God’s
gentleness toward us displayed. He helped us when we were His enemy, when we ran
from Him, when we were saying all kinds of things against Him. He provided us food
and drink when we hated Him, when we were determined to live our own way and do
our own thing. He was always there, providing for our daily needs. He never said
anything harmful to us, but only did good.
God loves us despite how we feel toward Him. He is gentle with us whether we love Him
or not. That is because it is this very gentleness that will draw people in. It is the good
that is done that will show others that God is for the, not against them. He draws them
by sending blessings on them even though they have not come to Him. He sent His
Son, Jesus, to die for our sins while we were yet sinners. Jesus was gentle and mild, as
a lamb gone to slaughter. He gave His life in gentleness so we could be saved.
Have you responded the gentleness of God? Have you given Him your all and taken on
this fruit of Gentleness? Are you displaying this fruit for all the world to see so that God
can use it to draw men to repentance? It’s time to rise up as the church and show the
world the gentle nature of God. It is this very gentleness that will win the lost! Isn’t
that our mission?