I’ve been given the task of speaking on gentleness in a few weeks time, as part of a series on the fruits of the Spirit.. What does it mean to be gentle? Why should we be gentle? How are we to go about it? At first glance ‘gentleness’ seems to be one of the fruits of the spirit that is mentioned but never really spoken about. Perhaps an image of ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ comes to mind. Doesn’t sound very masculine. Or very appealing. These are some initial thoughts
Here’s the verse from Galatians which lists the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
The greek word used here is prauteis, from the root praus or praeia. It can mean gentle, meek, benevolent, forbearance, and sometimes kind. It is the same word which Jesus uses in the Beatitude to say Blessed are the meek….
Other places where gentleness is used:
2 Kings 19
11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.“
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?“
Elijah was listening for the God to speak. HE expected him in the great movements of the earth but only when the silence came did Elijah hear. The Lord was in the gentle whisper.
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Perhaps this proverb is one of the keys to the NT teaching about gentleness. The NT talks about being one and like-minded with other Christians. This proverb starts to explain why. It’s common sense really – gentleness turns away wrath. It avoids the escalation of hostile words actions. It encourages peace.