The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
Day 10: Gentleness
“Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.”
-Matthew 12:15-21 (NIV)
The Greek word, prautés, is translated in Galatians 5:23 as gentleness, but its meaning is somewhat different than what we think of as gentleness. When we think of a gentle person, we might think of someone soft and meek. But prautés means strength that accommodates to another’s weakness. A good image might be a mother tiger gently catching up her cub who has wandered away, in jaws that could easily crush it, and returning it to safety.
Just as with the other fruit of the Spirit, gentleness is a quality God exhibits towards us, as described in the verse above, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” God’s strength could easily hurt us, but instead God is gentle with us. And we are called to be gentle with others.
Gentleness can diffuse potential conflict and effect peace: Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” It is the unexpected response when someone is angry and expecting anger in return. Gentleness recognizes the weakness in others even when they are aren’t showing it, and treats them tenderly. Gentleness provides space for healing.
Like love, we can only be as gentle to others as we are to ourselves, forgiving ourselves for our weaknesses and gently redirecting ourselves when we make mistakes and wander off.
Can you think of a situation in your life where a gentle answer might turn away wrath? How can you respond gently when in the past you have responded harshly? Can you think of a time when someone’s gentleness to you has led to healing?
About The Author
Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.