The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Gentleness

Posted by on Mar 11, 2007

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

March 11, 2007

Sunday Morning

“The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Gentleness”

Scripture Text: Galatians 5:22

Introduction:

 

A.   It’s hard to believe, but it has been five weeks now since my last sermon on the subject, “The Fruit Of The Spirit.”

1.    I began this mini series with a message on “love.”

2.    My second message was on “joy.”

3.    My third message was on “peace.”

4.    My fourth message was on “longsuffering.”

5.    This morning, we come to the fifth “fruit of the Spirit,” or the fifth outward evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in a believer’s life, and that is “gentleness.”

 

B.   I don’t mind telling you that I have been dreading this day.

1.    Why?

2.    Because of all the manifestations of the Spirit that Paul mentions here in Gal. 5, “gentleness” is the most difficult to describe.

3.    I know what gentleness is, at least I think I do, but it is very hard to describe it with words, it is very difficult to reduce it to mere words of the English language.

4.    Gentleness truly is something that is better seen in a believer’s actions than it is described with words.

5.    But having said that, I will do my best this morning to expound upon this extremely important spiritual quality that ought to be evident in the life of every believer.

6.    And so, first of all, this morning…

 

I.       Let’s Try To Define Gentleness.

 

A.   Without considering the Greek word just yet, let’s try to define the English word.

1.    I looked up the word “gentleness” in Webster’s Dictionary and found the following definition, “the quality or state of being gentle; mildness of manners or disposition.”

2.    I also looked up the word “gentle” and found this definition, “free from harshness, sternness and violence; soft or delicate.”

3.    Based on these two definitions, gentleness, then, can be defined as “the quality or state of being mild, soft, or delicate.”

4.    It is the opposite of being harsh, stern or violent.

 

B.   I came across another definition for gentleness that I really liked, it goes like this: Gentleness is love in action. It is consideration, it is tenderness in feeling, it is promptness of sympathy, it is love in all it’s depths and delicacy. It is everything included in that matchless grace called the gentleness of Christ.”

 

C.   When you begin to study the Greek word from which the word “gentleness” is translated, you come to the conclusion that “gentleness” and “kindness” are one and the same thing.

1.    Why do I say this? Because the Greek word (chrestotes) from which the word “gentleness” is translated in Gal. 5:22, is also translated “kindness” in several other passages.

2.    For example, in Eph. 2:7, we read, “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

3.    Listen also to Col. 3:12, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”

 

4.    Finally, listen to Tit. 3:4, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,”

5.    Although the word “kindness” is used rather than “gentleness,” it is the same Greek word.

6.    And so, gentleness and kindness are the same thing.

 

D.   (Illus.- When I think of the quality of “gentleness,” there is a certain person who immediately comes to mind who used to attend this church many years ago. Most of you have never met her, but her name is Lillie Nunn. Those of you who have met her, you know that she was, and I’m sure still is, one of the most gentle people you will ever meet. Everything about her was gentle. Her speech was gentle. Her demeanor was gentle. Her appearance was gentle. She had one of the sweetest and most gentle smiles of any person I have ever known. In all the years that I knew her, I never heard her raise her voice, and I never saw her display any harshness whatsoever. In my humble opinion, she was the personification of gentleness.)

 

E.   There is a verse in 1 Thessalonians (1 Thes. 2:7) that will help us greatly in understanding the meaning of gentleness.

1.    Turn there with me. It says, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:”

2.    The word “nurse” here does not mean the kind of nurse who works in a hospital taking care of sick folk, although gentleness is a desired quality in these nurses as well.

3.    What Paul is talking about here is a nursing mother.

4.    Imagine, if you will, a nursing mother as she gently holds or cradles her newborn child to her breast.

5.    Everything about a nursing mother is gentle.

6.    Her touch is gentle, her voice is gentle, the smile on her face is gentle.

7.    (Illus.- Studies have shown that, as a general rule, babies who are breast fed as infants, grow up to be healthier, happier and more contented adults. This is due, in part, to the gentleness that was shown to them by their nursing mothers.)

F.    Now that we understand the meaning of this spiritual quality called “gentleness,”…

 

II.      Let’s Notice How This Quality Was Demonstrated In The Life And Ministry Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

A.   Turn to 2 Cor. 10:1, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:”

1.    Did you notice the expression, “gentleness of Christ”?

2.    If ever a person has exhibited the spiritual quality of gentleness in His life it was our Lord Jesus Christ.

3.    Let’s consider a few examples of His gentleness.

 

B.   First of all, Jesus was gentle in His dealings with His disciples.

1.    If you have studied the gospels carefully, you know that even though the disciples were…

-oftentimes short on faith,

-constantly misunderstanding His teachings,

-prone to arguing among themselves like children,

Jesus did not take a hard line with them, but rather He dealt with them gently and tenderly.

2.    Just one example is the way that He dealt with Thomas after Thomas had told the other disciples, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

3.    Do you remember how Jesus dealt with him the following week?

4.    Rather than coming down on him hard because of his unbelief, Jesus simply walked up to him and very gently said, “Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 2:27)

C.   Not only was Jesus gentle with His disciples, but He was also gently with children.

1.    On one occasion, mothers were bringing their children to Jesus so that He could touch them and bless them.

2.    You probably remember that the disciples took a very hard line and scolded these mothers for bothering Jesus.

3.    Jesus, on the other hand, was gentle with the children and with their mothers, telling His disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)

4.    Oftentimes Jesus would gently take the children up into His arms and just love them.

 

D.   Not only was Jesus gentle with His disciples and with children, but He was also gentle with His friends.

1.    There was one family in particular to which Jesus was very close, and that was Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany.

2.    On one occasion, Martha lost her temper and actually scolded Jesus for not telling her sister, Mary, to get in the kitchen and help her prepare the evening meal.

3.    Rather than being harsh with Martha, which He very well could have done, He dealt with her very gently and tenderly.

4.    Do you remember what He told her? He said, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:…But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

 

E.   Not only was Jesus gentle with His disciples and with children and with His friends, but He was even gentle with His enemies.

1.    I’m thinking now of something that Jesus said while He was hanging on the cross.

2.    His enemies had just nailed Him to the cross when He prayed these words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

 

3.    Can’t you just hear the gentleness of Christ in those words?

4.    Not only did Jesus pray for forgiveness for those who crucified Him, He also forgave one of the thieves that was crucified along side of Him.

5.    Do you remember what Jesus said to that thief just before he went out into eternity?

6.    He said, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

 

F.    And so, if ever a person has exhibited the spiritual quality of gentleness in His life it was our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

G.   Now, before I close this morning, let me say that…

 

III.    We, As Believers, Should Exhibit This Same Quality (Gentleness) In Our Lives As Well.

 

A.   Turn with me to 2 Tim. 2:24, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men.”

1.    While Paul wrote these words to the young preacher, Timothy, the same truth is applicable to us as well.

2.    If we desire to…

-be effective servants of the Lord,

-be successful in our respective ministries,

-have harmony in our relationships with others,

then we too must “be gentle unto all men.”

 

B.   For example, we must exhibit “gentleness” in our marriage.

1.    (Illus.- Most of the time when couples come to me for marriage counseling, it becomes quite evident early on that most, if not all of the gentleness has gone out of their marriage. When this happens, the marriage is in great jeopardy.)

2.    If ever there is a place where gentleness is needed, it is in the marriage relationship.

3.    (Illus.- I’m going to tell my age here, but there is an old Glen Campbell song entitled, “Try A Little Kindness.” The chorus of this song goes like this; You got to try a little kindness, Yes show a little kindness, Just shine your light for everyone to see, And if you try a little kindness, Then you’ll overlook the blindness, Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.)

4.    You may not be a Glen Campbell fan, but if you are having problems in your marriage, that’s exactly what my advice to you would be, just “try a little kindness.”

5.    Why? Because almost without fail, people respond in a positive manner to kindness, and they usually do so by showing a little kindness of their own (in return).

6.    (Illus.- Fellows, if you don’t believe me, why don’t you try this. When you come home from work tomorrow evening, rather than doing what many husbands normally do, yelling at their wives because supper is not on the table or the house is not clean, why don’t you try taking your wife gently into your arms, kissing her tenderly on the lips, and saying, “Honey, I really missed you today.” Why don’t you try that and see what a difference it will make in how the rest of your evening goes. I’ll guarantee that it will make a difference.)

 

C.   Not only is gentleness important when it comes to getting along with our spouses, it is also important in every other human relationship.

1.    Another example is our church relationships.

2.    I don’t know about you, but I look at our church as a haven, not just a haven, but a haven of gentleness and kindness in a world of harshness and cruelty.

3.    It is for this reason that when we come together as a church family, we should strive to be as gentle and as kind to one another as possible.

4.    (Illus- I hate to say this, but some churches are anything but havens of gentleness and kindness. Because of jealousy and strife, they have become places where fellow believers are mean and cruel to one another.)

 

5.    James describes this sad situation in Jam. 3:14-16, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth…This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish…For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

6.    Let’s face it, we live in a cruel ruthless world.

7.    Our church should be a place where believers can come to find refuge from the world and enjoy the gentleness and kindness of Christ.

 

D.   And I will tell you something else, gentleness will also open doors and give us opportunities to share Christ with the unsaved.

1.    You see, before we can share the gospel with someone who is unsaved, we must first of all get their attention.

2.    And I don’t know of anything that will get their attention any quicker than to be shown a little love and kindness.

3.    That’s something that they are not accustomed to.

Conclusion:

 

A.   What have we learned this morning about this spiritual quality of gentleness?

1.    First of all, we’ve learned that gentleness can be defined as “the quality or state of being mild, soft, or delicate.”

2.    We’ve learned that gentleness is the opposite of being harsh, stern or violent.

3.    We’ve learned that gentleness and kindness are the same thing.

4.    Secondly, we’ve learned that if ever there was a person who exhibited gentleness in His life, it was our Lord Jesus Christ.

5.    We’ve learned that Jesus was gentle with His disciples, gentle with children, gentle with His friends, and even gentle with His enemies.

6.    Finally, we learned that we, as believers, if we desire to be servants of the Lord, must exhibit gentleness in our lives as well.

 

B.   Let me ask you a question, “Do you exhibit gentleness in your life?”

1.    Are you gentle with your spouse?

2.    Are you gentle with your children?

3.    Are you gentle with your fellow church members?

4.    Are you gentle with the unsaved, thereby opening doors and creating opportunities to share Christ with them?

5.    Let us not forget that “the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.” (Gal. 5:22)

6.    If the Holy Spirit abides in your heart, and if the Holy Spirit is truly working in your life, then you will exhibit gentleness in your life.