Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

By Paul Runnoe

As parents of a 3-year-old boy, gentleness has been something we’ve been working on in our house. We often ask him, “What do we use our muscles for – helping or hurting?” Sometimes he gets it, and sometimes it feels like our son has more genetic similarities to a bowling ball than to a human child. Yet one person has started breaking through to him – our 11-month-old daughter. He has learned a lot in the past year about how to be gentle because he loves his little sister so much and wants to play with her. He knows that he must be gentle.

I love this description of gentleness I found online. Gentleness/meekness = gentle strength, gentle-force, power with reserve. “It is a divinely balance virtue that can only operate through faith.

It often seems that in our culture, gentleness is seen as weakness. Biblically it is quite the opposite. It takes greater strength to hold back power and strength that you possess than it does to assert them. Restraint is a true sign of strength. This is a testament to how great and how strong Jesus truly is. He, possessing ALL power, capable of anything, willfully restrained Himself in the midst of severe, unjustified persecution and torment. He had abundant power, was treated completely unfairly. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

I pray for this gentleness in my own life as well. I am often tempted to exert my power, influence, or strength for my own benefit or to defend myself and my pride. Yet this is not the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus is to willingly lay aside His power in restraint and to give of Himself for the sake of others. Just like my son, and just like Jesus, my “muscles” must be used for helping, not for hurting.