|FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT - GENTLENESS
T. David Sustar
HIS GLORY REIGNS
March 7, 2008
The Greek word for gentleness is chrestotes, most often translated "kindness." This word occurs in eight places in the
Bible, all in the apostle Paul's writings. There are two other New Testament words for gentleness, and the meanings of
all three can be summed up with "humility, kindness, mildness."
Characteristics of Jesus: Power and Gentleness
Isaiah not only gave us the prophecy of Christ's birth, but he also revealed the nature of our Lord's ministry. In
chapter 40, 700 years before Christ, he scanned the ages of time to see the coming King. He spoke of the greatness
of God and His awesome power and then changed to the gentleness of Christ, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
Christ came to reveal the Father and graphically expressed the characteristics of God, including some mentioned
many years before by the psalmist David, a man after God's own heart. While thinking of the victories he had won,
David not only praised God by declaring "For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a
wall." 2 Samuel 22:30. He also mentioned the key to success, "Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation:
and thy gentleness hath made me great." 2 Samuel 22:36. The power and gentleness of God were revealed in Christ.
Some people think kindness is a sign of weakness. Dr. Ralph W. Sockman correctly stated, "Gentleness is a divine
trait; nothing is so strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as real strength."
When you study the life of the greatest and strongest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, you will see a kind of man. He
had a quality about Him that made people feel comfortable in His presence. Little children responded to His kindness
and loved Him. Prostitutes and tax collectors saw His kindness and sought His company.
One of the great differences between Jesus and many of us is in His attitude toward sinners. Sinners loved to be with
Jesus because He was such a kind person. He had the fruit of the spirit in full-blown manifestation without limitation.
He is our pattern. He was a friend of sinners because He knew that was the only way He could save them.
A Characteristic of the Father
Dr. Charles W. Conn also describes this kindness as a characteristic of the Father: "Most men can be kind to those
who are kind and gentle themselves - or even to those who are needy and helpless - but it requires spiritual virtue to
be kind to the evildoer, the mean and disagreeable, the spiteful and hateful man." This, however, is exactly what God
does, "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great,
and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Luke 6:35. This is the
very nature of God.
We all agree that God should be merciful to sinners and not destroy them without a chance to repent. But we are
amazed at how He blesses them with the good things of life - with the same sun and rain and sustenance of life with
which He blesses the saints.
In our desire to be more like our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus, we should strive to be more gentle and kind.
Even to those who treat us wrong, we are commanded, "...do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your
reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest." Luke 6:35.
The Apostle Paul, Firm yet Gentle
At times the apostle Paul had to be firm with the churches, but only because he loved them so much. He never sought
glory nor desired to be a burden. "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being
affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own
souls, because ye were dear unto us." 1 Thessalonians 2:7,8.
In the following verses, he told of his labor and travail. He reminded them of the holy, just and unblamable behavior of
the apostles. He declared, he preached to, exhorted and comforted them, "...as a father doth his children..." 1
Shouldn't the logical place for people to turn for guidance and instruction be the church? Many people will not come to
us because of our harsh condemnation of sin. Although we must be firm in our opposition to sin, we must love people.
The world will never be saved by our eloquence, melodious music, or financial prowess. They do not care how much
we know until they know how much we care!
Kindness Reveals How Much We Care
The secret of winning men and women to the Lord is to go to their point of need. If our ministry lacks tenderness and
gentleness, it will also be fruitless. We will be unable to lead people to Christ. The gentle heart is the broken heart -
the heart that is willing to weep over the sins of the bad as well as the sacrifices of the good.
James said it as it should be, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be
intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:17.
Kindness is Needed in the Church
One of the greatest needs facing the church today is kindness! So many times Christians are guilty of being
short-tempered or cross with one another. This happens because one or the other has become exalted within himself
and assumes the authority of Christ. However, when the fruit of the Spirit is active in the life, Christians will not
reprimand each other in vengeful anger or with uncalled for severity.
We have been given the example of Christ to teach us how to react to every situation, "He was oppressed, and he was
afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is
dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Isaiah 53:7. Listen to His invitation, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:39.
We are prone to be like the apostle Peter and draw the sword and slash away. But Jesus gave Peter this advice,
"...Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Matthew 26:52.
Later, the apostle Peter understood Christ's actions. "Who, when he was reviled not again; when he suffered, he
threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" 1 Peter 2:23.
Perhaps the apostle Paul was remembering his former lifestyle, when he had failed to be as kind as he should, when
he wrote the Corinthians, using the example of the Lord: "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:" 2 Corinthians 10:1.
Kindness is Revealed in Relationships
Spurgeon said, "A Christian is the gentlest of men; but then, he is a man." Our problem often lies in the fact that the
treasure of God is in an earthen vessel. Christians ought to be nice! Kindness and gentleness should be our
trademark. We are supposed to be the best human relationalists around!
Someone recommended Ten Commandments of Human Relations which we may adopt:
1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
2. Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown; 14 to smile.
3. Call people by name. The sweetest music is the sound of his own name.
4. Be friendly and helpful.
5. Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure.
6. Be genuinely interested in people. You can like everybody if you try.
7. Be generous with praise. - cautious with criticism.
8. Be considerate of the feelings of others. It will be appreciated.
9. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others. There are three sides to a controversy - yours, the other fellow's, and the
10. Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others.
It may not be bad advice for us to learn to listen! We miss many opportunities to be kind because we do not hear the
cries of those around us.
In this frustrating world where many are floundering in despair, someone must declare, "For God sent not his Son into
the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17
We will only pass this way once. Will the world be a kinder place because of our journey?
A Layman's Guide to the Fruit of the Spirit, by T. David Sustar, Copyright 1990, Pathway Press.
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