Jesus had great power, and He could have zapped people into conformity to the will of God, but He did not. He used love and persuasion. He did not compel people to follow Him. He called, and some did, and many did not. He was a gentleman, who treated all people with dignity, and he respected their right to say no. He did not say to the rich young ruler who walked away, “You swine, get back here and take up the cross and follow me.” Instead, He wept and let him walk away. Jesus did not force Himself on anyone. He might have had a greater following had He used some of the techniques others have used to browbeat and make people feel guilty. But Jesus was a gentleman. Samuel Butler wrote, “If we are asked what the essential characteristic that underlies this word is, the word itself will guide us to gentleness, absence of browbeating or overbearing manners, absence of fuss, and generally consideration for other people.”
The fruits of the Spirit all grow so quietly and gently. The gifts are often loud and attention getters, but the fruits grow as quietly as the fruits of nature. We know when fireworks is going off at the fair ground, because we hear the loud explosions in the sky. We know someone is hurt or ill, for we hear the screaming sirens, as the ambulance races to the scene. We know the weather is severe, because we hear the blaring sirens warning of a tornado. The presence of many things are known by the noises that are produced. But no one has ever awakened in the night and said, “Listen to all the racket the apple tree is making. The apples are growing again.” No! They grow silently, quietly, and gently. So the fruit of the Spirit grows in us. The gifts might draw a crowd, because of the shouting, singing, and noise of rejoicing, and this is great. But the fruits do not come with a bang. They come as the Holy Spirit gently nudges us closer to Christ. He works quietly as we read the Word of God, and as we pray for guidance, and as we reflect on life and where we fit in the scheme of things.
The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, you recall, not as a vulture or a screeching hawk, but in the form of a dove, the symbol of gentleness. Jesus will be forever praised in heaven as the Lamb of God, the creature of gentleness. God is gentle, and that is why there is a plan of salvation rather than just a plan of judgment. We owe all we can ever hope for in Jesus to the fact of God’s gentleness. This is to have an impact on how we treat others. William Taylor wrote, “Forget not thou hast sinned, and sinful yet must be: Deal gently with the erring one, as thy God hath dealt with thee.” May this prayer of an unknown poet express the desire of your heart!
Give me Thy gift of gentleness, most gracious Lord;
For whom the way was rough, and darkly black,
For clouds of sorrow hung about life’s track,
Till tears and anguish seemed my double part–
It was Thy gentleness that healed my heart’!
And there are others–walking weary years,
With bleeding feet, the stony track of tears.
Oh, make me gentle, Lord; through me express
The healing grace of Thine own gentleness.
May God motivate us to pray such a prayer often, for the fruit of gentleness!
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – KINDNESS
I’ve decided to write on kindness and gentleness separately as a gift of the Spirit because I found out that in most versions, kindness is written as the fifth fruit of the Spirit, whereas in the KJV, gentleness is the fifth. Thereby equating gentleness with kindness; but, I felt that distinguishing both of them will make more sense and lead us to a fuller discovery of all the manifestations of the Spirit’s work so as to gear us to desire them all in its fullness. Although, gentleness is equated with meekness in all other versions as the eighth fruit of the Spirit, I would like to write on meekness as implying humility rather than equating it with gentleness when we get to the eighth fruit of the Spirit.
I once read about Mr. and Mrs. Grayson who were missionaries in Nigeria, Africa. One day he lost control of his car and went into the ditch. It was up to the hub caps in mud. He knew he would have to walk eight miles to the nearest town to get help, and Mrs. Grayson would have to wait in the car. She said it would be okay, but she was fearful. Darkness was coming, and she was soon hearing all kinds of strange noises. Then she heard voices. She flicked on the headlights and saw two men coming toward the car. They asked her who she was. She told them and they left. But shortly after, she heard voices again. The two men had come back with two women carrying blankets and bundles of wood. They spread the blankets out, and started a fire. They invited her to join them. They were so friendly she got out and sat with them. They talked of all kinds of things, and then she asked them why they came to keep her company.
One of the men smiled and said, “We have been waiting three years to do something for you. Three years ago your husband drove through our village, and when he saw that my little daughter was ill he took her to the mission hospital. She was there a long time, but they saved her life. We have waited three years to thank him. We would be happy to sit with that good man’s wife, and keep her company all night if necessary.” They were showing kindness because they had been deeply touched by an act of kindness. Glenn Pease wrote “People who do not grasp the theology of Christianity can easily grasp its love when they see it displayed in acts of kindness. Instead of thinking of kindness as a minor virtue, we need to exalt it to the level where the Bible puts it-a vital ingredient to being Christ like. William Penn, the Christian founder of Pennsylvania, has been quoted often for these words of wisdom, “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” Let this be your daily prayer as you dress each morning, Lord, help me put on this day, and for your glory display the fruit of kindness.”