Gentleness is the eight fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
Being gentle implies a sense of strength. When you have more strength than someone or something else, you have the potential to hurt or to break the person or object. Gentleness, then, is a sense of care. It is having concern for the well being of another so that you intentionally do what you can to avoid causing harm.
Gentleness is like when a little child rest safely in the arms of her father. The man, bigger in stature and more experienced in knowledge, has the potential to cause great harm; but the man loves his child, so he will use his strength to nurture and protect her instead.
The same is true with us and God. In Matthew 11, Jesus says that when we come to him with our life burdens, we find someone who is gentle and offers rest (11:28-29). This same Jesus is described in Revelation 19 as riding from heaven on a white horse to exact vengeance against his enemies, who he slays with his breath.
Jesus is powerful. Indeed, as God the Son, Jesus is all-powerful. Yet, because of his love for us, Jesus is also gentle and he uses his strength to nurture and protect (John 10).
It is no mistake that gentleness and self-control, the ninth fruit of the Spirit, are listed side by side. Gentleness requires self-control. Gentleness keeps strength under control.
Each of us, even if we don’t personally feel very strong, have people in our lives whom we could easily hurt with our words or actions. The Spirit of God in us leads us to be gentle instead. So, let us seek to keep strength under control. Let us seek to be gentle, and let us pray that the Spirit would make us more gentle.
Next time, we’ll consider the final fruit, self-control.