Gentleness: Fruit of the Spirit

The Woman Caught in Adultery

John 8:1-11 (NIV) Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.      But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.      9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”      11 “No one, sir,” she said.      “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

This story is the perfect example of Jesus and his gentleness.  Gentleness is the fruit of the Spirit that we will study today.  Pay close attention, there is an aspect of gentleness that you will not expect.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)  the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control

Praotes – G4236 – KJV Meekness

NIV, NKJV, ESV, HCSB, NASB – Gentleness

Gentleness is the updated word for the meekness.  Often when we think of meekness, we do not fully understand the word and we pair it with a similar word, weakness, but this gives us a completely incorrect idea of the meaning.  When we consider gentleness, we have an idea of its meaning, but there is a different aspect as it appears in the Bible that  perhaps you have not considered.

Our first consideration of gentleness might lead us to think about how one wants to be as he handles a baby.  You want to be so gentle.  You don’t want to hurt the little guy.  You would not throw him around or drop him.  You handle him with the greatest of care.  You want to get the softest blankets and clothes and bedding.  That is a part of gentleness.

In fact, gentleness is a quality that is to be seen in our lives by all and at all times.

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Gentleness is not a display of weakness.  It fact is an illustration of strength.  It takes greater strength to be gentle than it does to be rough.  Do you want a strong adult to carry your baby or a small child, who will tug and heave on the little infant to carry it?  While you may have the ability to hammer a nail into a board, how much strength would it take to gently push the nail into the board?

Styrofoam or Rockets?

The space shuttle Columbia was destroyed in 2003 due to the impact damage from a chunk of Styrofoam that impacted the carbon fiber composite wing of the space shuttle.  The powerful rockets  have the ability to gently lift the shuttle and its passengers into space.

Ax or hydraulic log splitter?

With an ax trying to split a massive log, it will take many hard blows before the log will give way and split.  With the amazing strength of a hydraulic log splitter, that massive log will gently split open. 

Jesus Is Gentle

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart (meek and lowly), and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

As with every fruit of the Spirit, we find that gentleness is a characteristic of God.  Think about how you came to know Jesus as your savior.  Some of you might say that Jesus used a sledge hammer, but most of us would probably describe how we came to be saved as a gentle process.  Over the course of time, you were surely convinced that you were a sinner and you were worthy of God’s judgment and damnation to Hell.  You realized that God cared and that He had given His son to offer salvation to you.

We Must Be Gentle

Gentleness and Relationships

Gentleness is a key ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship with those around us, especially within the church.  It is a tool used to maintain unity, especially with those we might disagree.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV)  As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)  12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

The Bible is teaching us that gentleness is an important part of our relationships with others.  We must be a caring people.  We are to see to the good of others handling them with gentleness, just as we would that baby, doing our best to make sure that they are taken care of and that we seek the best for those that surround us in life.  Our relationships with others often take great strength to navigate, because we are all so different and peculiar.  Notice the combination of characteristics that we must maintain in our relationships.  Relationships are not always easy.  We must be willing to put in the work and when done properly, we will experience goodness.

Gentleness and Controversy

Gentleness as we see it in the New Testament has to do, more than anything, with dealing with controversy or resolving a difficulty or difference of opinion.  It is the way in which confrontation is to be handled. 

1 Corinthians 4:21 (NIV)  What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

Galatians 6:1 (NIV)  Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NIV)  pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NIV) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Again, I remind you, think about how you came to Jesus.  Before, we were living in sin.  The Bible describes us as enemies of God.  There was a huge divide in the relationship between God and you.  God did not like this broken relationship and He would not allow it to continue and even though the divide was deep, God worked gently to bring you back to Him.

In 1 Corinthians Paul is writing to the church to deal with many great disturbances in the church.  False teaching, Paul’s authority put in question, immorality among the members, law suits among them, wrong practices in the church and roles of leadership in the church.

Paul dealt with all of these issues in a letter and hoped that it would resolve the issues before he arrived.  He asked them.  Would you rather I come with a rod to beat you or in a spirit of gentleness and with love.

Gentleness in the New Testament has more to do with how we handle our troubles and disagreements that it does with how you are to hold a baby or care for fresh flowers.  Relationships are very important to God.  Relationships are vital to the success of the church and the growth of the kingdom.

Gentleness points to restoration.  To ignore a problem and hope it goes away is not gentleness.  Gentleness takes great strength and we must have strength of character as we deal with the troubles and the issues that could divide us.  We must always seek restoration and come back to unity.  It will take gentleness to achieve it.



Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 25:15 (NIV)  Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.