I have a lot of bruised fruit and some days they’re plain old rotten. In fact, I am amazed how The Lord will use my own writing to minister to me throughout the week. I go back and reread it and am further convicted or encouraged (while noticing errors!). I praise Him for where He has taken me and praise Him more for where He is going to take me. Let’s take one last bite out of the fruit of gentleness this week.
There are many men in the Bible who have shown gentleness—only One is the perfect example of gentleness.
In Luke 10:2-3 we see Christ sending the apostles out and calling them to meekness, “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’” They were being warned that they would meet those in opposition. We, as Christians, are not to face those who are hostile with aggression. Then we become just like them. We are to “kill them with kindness” using love and gentleness.
God is often pictured as a shepherd, gently caring for and guiding his flock. He is powerful, yet careful and gentle. He is called a shepherd (Psalm 23); the good shepherd (John 10:11); the great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20) and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). He cares for the most defenseless members of society.
We see The Lord being gentle with children by touching them and blessing them (Luke 18:15). They brought to Him infants that He would touch. His disciples saw this and rebuked Him because they thought the young children were not worthy of the Master’s time. But Jesus welcomed them. He knew that young children have a kind of faith and trust needed and necessary to enter God’s Kingdom. God desires for us to have childlike attitudes of acceptance. God wants to lead us tenderly and carefully. He gently leads His flock. Isaiah 40:11 is a beautiful image of the tender attention the Shepherd gives to His flock, “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.”
We see David praising God for his gentleness in Samuel 22:36, “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.”
Ivor Rosser speaks in The Fruit of the Spirit, “True meekness is moral power to resist evil, having no confidence in the flesh but in the ‘Meek and lowly One,’ Who has said, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee’ (Heb. 13:5).”
Dwight L. Moody says, “God has nothing to say to the self-righteous. Unless you humble yourself before him in the dust, and confess before him your iniquities and sins, the gate of heaven which is open only for sinners saved by grace, must be shut against you forever.”
Estelle Smith from Christian Woman says, “Humility is strong—not bold; quiet—not speechless; sure—not arrogant.”
Max Lucado in When God Whispers Your Name says, “Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”
May we all learn how to be gentle giants who are empowered by God’s strength, but gentle and mild in nature and in delivery. May we learn how to properly balance being bold and being gentle—that means sensitively speaking the Truth for Christ. That means we have to care about stepping on other people’s toes and being perceived as rude and insensitive. There is a balance. We are called to be courageous and bold and say what needs to be said. However, the Bible says that we should become all things to all people so that we help them to see the Truth. We have to pray for discernment. We need to be Spirit-led. I have been in relationships for months and sometimes years before God gave me the green light to speak about certain things.
Jesus knew how to behave perfectly in every situation. He just knew. The more we get to know Him and strengthen His Spirit within us we too will know more and be more sensitive OR practice more discipline so our flesh does not determine our behavior.
In April, we will continue through the fruit onto patience. Probably my second fruit (next to gentleness) that needs the most ripening. I always joke that I don’t have enough time to be patient. It’s not really a funny joke to those on the receiving end of my impatience.
My favorite John Piper quote, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”