The Fruit of the Spirit

By Matt Ferreira

…the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Fruit of the Spirit is a biblical phrase that summarises the nine characteristics of a person who lives with the Holy Spirit. This week we are looking at gentleness.

You may consider yourself to be extroverted, loud, always joking and wanting to have a lot of fun, which doesn’t sound very gentle! Often, we describe those who are gentle as quiet and serious. However, gentleness is not so much about our natural personality traits as it is about our attitude and how we approach others.

The kind of gentleness that we are interested in involves showing humility and thankfulness towards God, as well as polite, restrained and compassionate behaviour towards everyone else. It is a gift of the Spirit, and it is produced when we soften our hearts and follow Jesus, but true gentleness also requires something on our parts: intention. We have to be intentionally kind, compassionate and humble towards others, especially when they are facing struggle or difficulty. This attitude flows from a spirit of real love for an individual — having true concern for their well-being. We demonstrate this attitude through the way we think about others, how we treat them and what we say to them. Gentleness means adopting a position where we effectively place ourselves third: putting God and other people before ourselves.

What does gentleness look like in practice? As written, gentleness puts others first. It does not hate or insult those who are doing things that we perceive as wrong. It calls to mind that we are all sinful and that we have all been given grace by God the Father. It is a soft answer, even when our words may hurt or confront the recipient (Galatians 6:1). When we receive or give a difficult message in a gentle way, it is much easier to see the truth in it.

Ask God to bring circumstances into your life that allow you to practice gentleness. When Jesus presented Himself as the promised Messiah, many were disappointed because they were expecting a mighty warrior who would rule a physical kingdom. They did not understand that this gentle man, who was born in a stable, was in fact much greater than they could ever imagine. Jesus never held back the truth, yet He brought life and not hurt. We demonstrate gentleness when we have a gentle manner and gentle words (Proverbs 15:4). Behaving this way can make all the difference in your own life and to those around you.

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