Welcome to a bonus week on gentleness! April was a five Sunday month so we got the pleasure of another week growing in this particular fruit of the spirit. When we started off this “accidental” month on gentleness I had an idea in my head of what it was. Being that meek and mild person, looking after others, that kind of thing. But the gentleness that God has revealed to me (and hopefully to you as well) is far greater and of more purpose than that.
gentleness for all
I am so glad we got to look at this verse, as it brings all we have learnt back together. Back in week 2 we looked at how gentleness should be shown to everyone, including those in authority and power above us. Week 4 was all about restoring our brothers and sisters in Christ in a gentle way. And week 3 was all about how we speak to non-Christians about our faith with gentleness. All of these verses include other people, and this week we are told to “let our gentleness be evident to ALL”. Those over and under us in authority, those who are Christians and also those who aren’t.
Naomi spoke in week two about gentleness being “founded on strength and prompted by love” and I think that when you know it is something that needs to be EVIDENT TO ALL then you really do need to be strong to be able to do that.
The lord is near
This little sentence is tagged on the end, and I’m sure some of you overlooked this and doubted its importance to this week’s study – we just want to look at the bit where the word gentleness is included right?! But the context is soooo important here, and this little throw away sentence brings it all back into focus. I don’t think this is just a nice platitiude – God is close to you – kind of sentence. It has a more urgent meaning than that. Let me give it to you in the Message Version instead:
“Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!”
You see this is not a nice “snuggly” kind of sentence of God being close, but one of urgency that actually Jesus could return any minute! We need to be gentle with people for a purpose. They need to not get their backs up at us because we are holding out a lifeline to them – one that they don’t realise they might need really really soon!!! So actually our gentleness in the way we deal with ALL people might save their lives in eternity. Wow. Can you grasp how important gentleness is now?!
Gentleness as a fruit of the spirit
With it being our last week I wanted to quickly summarise all we have learnt about this amazing fruit of the spirit. And Naomi hinted last week at how intertwined all the fruit really are. I am seeing three themes and patterns come out in all the fruit and here is how they show in gentleness:
- OUR CHOICE – It is always our choice to develop our fruit of the spirit, and often it is hard work to do so. With gentleness it is a choice to control our words, to restore people rather than rebuke, to be respectful when sharing our faith and to do this to ALL people. We need to choose this path to grow in it, but don’t worry – as with all the other fruit we are not left to our devises to do this….
- WITH THE SPIRIT’S HELP – only as we grow closer to God and His Holy Spirit, become maturer in our faith, will we grow in these fruit. As we read our bible and get to know the gentle character of God, who never forces but always lets us choose, then we grasp why we also need to be gentle with others. With the Spirit’s help we see through his eyes the words that need to be spoken to bring healing and restoration. We can’t do it on our own.
- FOR A PURPOSE – There is always a purpose for each fruit. Gentleness is the fruit that helps us to lead people to Jesus with our words and bring others back when they stray. A seemingly weak and feeble fruit is actually one of the most powerful and important with an eternal purpose.
I am well and truly exhausted and inspired to “let my gentleness be evident to all” this week! How about you? Next week we are moving on to the spiritual fruit of goodness, starting off with this fantastic verse:
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11
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