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The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

“Now I, Paul, who am lowly in presence among you but bold toward you while absent, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1, MEV).


Part of the Fruit of the Spirit series by Jim Linzey

Gentleness, one part of the fruit of the Spirit, needs a place in our everyday lives. Often translated humility or meekness, the word gentleness is preferred by more modern versions of the Bible because it has a more positive connotation than the other two words. Many think of the meek or humble person as weak and ineffective, even applying gentleness only to those who are weak and effeminate. But this concept is contrary to the gentleness and meekness we see in the Scriptures. Gentleness is not the result of weak backbone. It is really power under perfect control. No one is more gentle than God, yet He is almighty, omnipotent. His glory is so terrible that no one can gaze upon it and live. Yet we read that he pities His children. Every day we experience His gentleness. He tenderly cares for us, supplies our needs, and guides us through life.

The opposite of gentleness would be hardness of heart. We must not let hardness of heart creep into our attitudes. Unless we keep our spirits broken to keep in touch with God, hard hearts will separate us from God. When we see the greatness of God’s love, we break down and weep—we become tender. Looking at His greatness breaks all the hardness the world would want to put in us.

The opposite of gentleness would be hardness of heart.

Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper because He knew that as long as we remembered Calvary, we would be gentle in spirit. It is impossible for us to remain spiritually gentle without the abiding presence of Christ within us.

Gentleness is not merely a sympathetic feeling. We may see a little baby and get a tender feeling toward it, but even unredeemed people do that. The gentleness that comes as a fruit of the Spirit comes through our relationship with the Lord Jesus. The love of God will make us humble, and, therefore, gentle. Humility is a disappearing Christian virtue. Many Christians want to go their own way; not many want to follow the difficult path of service. But it is the humble vessel, willing to follow, that God can use in any way He wants to. The Christian who is willing for God to have the glory is the one God can use. Christian humility or gentleness is impossible without God. It is contrary to human nature and the way we have learned to live. We like to have the upper hand, to be in charge. We like to say the last word, have people applaud us. The meek, humble person will work for the glory of God’s kingdom, even if it means being a fool for Christ’s sake. This attitude shows true humility. There will never be hard feelings where there is real Christian humility. A completely crucified self cannot be offended.

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Category: Spirit, Winter 2018

About the Author: James F. Linzey studied church growth under C. Pete Wagner and signs and wonders under John Wimber at Fuller Theological Seminary. He served on the large ministry team at the Anaheim Vineyard and is the chief editor of the Modern English Version Bible. He has a BA degree in Biblical Studies from Southern California College, and an MDiv degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous articles and books, speaker, and recording artist.

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