As parents, we diligently teach out small children to be gentle. Whether to their siblings or a new baby, we want them to learn this valuable skill early on in life. But how often do we leave out this skill in our own lives as adults?
In the list of the fruits of the Spirit, gentleness follows longsuffering, which is so fitting because if we applying longsuffering in our lives we will find it much easier to be gentle towards others. They go hand in hand.
How would you describe gentleness? Does it only mean to be gentle with our physical strength? Is that what Paul is talking about when he lists it in the fruits? After you take a closer look at the biblical definition of the word then you’ll begin to see it goes much deeper than that. Yes, we should be careful with our physical strength but so often the Bible gets to our heart.
The biblical definition:
Gentleness is softness in manners.
Manners are the way we act. Whether in roles as wives, mothers, homeschoolers or ministry leaders our behavior, demeanor and the way we conduct ourselves is either gentle or not. Softness can also be interpreted as mild. Gentleness in layman’s terms simply means mild mannered.
Before we can take a closer look at how we can yield to this fruit, we need to get familiar with the opposite behavior. Harshness.
Harshness is roughness in manners, temper, or words.
If your temperament is one that impulsively reacts before thinking or gets angry quickly then you probably are closer to harshness than you are to gentleness.
When we treat others with gentleness we are creating a testimony that influences others to live for Christ or to get closer to Him. When we have a soft spirit we are allowing ourselves to be more controlled by the Holy Spirit. Yet when we are quick-tempered we are often treating people harshness. Which typically pushes them away from God.
Can you remember a time when someone treated you harshly? Maybe your husband snapped at you. Maybe a friend put up a nasty Facebook status that attacked you. Maybe you’ve had people flat out tell you to your face some harsh words in the heat of the moment or just because it’s “just who they are”. We all have crazy people in our lives, amen? Did their actions feel good? Probably not. Their words probably cut you pretty deep. Maybe you return their heated words with a few of your own. Or maybe you withdrew yourself from the toxic relationship. The point is, no one likes to be treated harshly. Even if it’s your “personality” to fly off the handle and spew harsh words to anyone in your path, you’d probably admit that it stinks pretty badly to be on the other side of those words.
To be gentle towards others, you first need to repent of the unkind feelings you have towards them. It’s not an easy thing to be gentle with the people who rub you wrong the way! It’s easier to be harsh, unkind, gossip, hold grudges and bitterness towards them instead. Am I right? You can’t yield to this fruit of the Spirit when you are harboring bad thoughts about the people in your life.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
We are instructed to first remove these sins we have towards others before we are told to be kind to them. Simply because God knew we are incapable of doing verse 32 with ill feelings in our hearts.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
I love the visual illustration of verse 32 from the book, Nevertheless I Live, when coupled with gentleness.
- Kind to one another is the outward demonstration of gentleness.
- Tenderhearted to one another is the inward demonstration of gentleness.
- Forgiving one another is the upward demonstration of gentleness.
Do you find it hard to be mild-mannered? I’m sure everyone is saying yes. A confident yes, nonetheless. Because it isn’t natural to us to gentle, we have to be taught and then we have to keep practicing it each and every day. As we crucify our flesh each morning and take up our cross, we can begin to strengthen our spiritual muscles in yielding to these fruits of the Spirit in our lives. It get’s easier as we rely on Him and clothe ourselves in humility each day. You aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and decide that you will be gentle to everyone you come in contact with and then do it perfectly all day long. It’s progress each day. So don’t give up when you blow up. Pray without ceasing throughout your day and draw your strength and resolve to do right from the Lord. Over time, you’ll find you’re more gentle than you are harsh!
Since I just love Young Living and the fact that they have an oil for everything (!!!) I thought it would be fun to give you an oil suggestion for each of the fruits of the Spirit. While we work towards changing our hearts to be aligned with God’s will and commands, there is an oil to help you move closer to that goal. Humility is an oil that supports you in feelings of humility which allows you to be more gentle with others. You can’t show gentleness without it! Send me an email to get yourself a bottle!