VATIC Expressions: Truth, Transparency, Transformation
Volume 3, Summer 2017 Issue. A division of Vatic Publishing®, LLC.
The Fruit of Gentleness
by Laura Frohmader
When you got up this morning, did you put on your clothes? Did you put on gentleness? That sounds strange, yet we understand the analogy, comparing gentleness to a garment. “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12) Since we are told to put it on, does that mean we also take if off? We should always be gentle, yet our sinful nature causes that “garment” to slide off. Being told to put it on is a reminder of how we are to behave as God’s chosen ones.
Gentleness is an important temperament. Those who work in ministry are told to have a gentle character. Read 1 Timothy 3:3, 2 Timothy 2:24, Titus 3:2. In our culture men are told to be tough, aggressive, brusque. Even women are encouraged to be assertive. Those things have their place, yet gentleness sets us apart and helps our light shine in this dark world. The world may equate gentleness with being a wimp, but we who belong to the Lord expect our brothers and sisters in Christ to be of a gentle spirit.
Having that gentle spirit sets us apart. In addition to the analogy of a garment, gentleness is said to make us beautiful.
"In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God also beautified themselves in this way, submitting to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You have become her children when you do what is good and are not frightened by anything alarming." (1 Peter 3:1-6)
How does our society judge beauty? There is nothing wrong with making ourselves look nice on the outside. There is a point, though, where a desire to appear beautiful becomes arrogant and our looks become gaudy and fake. In a Roman history class our family is attending, we learned about the myriad of things used many centuries ago to enhance people’s looks. Learning about those ancient attitudes toward beauty added to my understanding of God’s directive to use gentleness to be beautiful.
As a Christian, I admire those who have a gentle spirit. I can see how it is a nurtured fruit of the Holy Spirit. When God talks about gentleness, He also includes humility, patience, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and endurance as desired characteristics. Read Ephesians 4:2 and 1 Timothy 6:11. All those character traits fit together. We want people to be gentle toward us. It has a calming effect. “He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.” (Isaiah 40:11) Jesus tells us to find rest in Him, through His gentleness. “All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matthew 11:29)
We are told to let our gentleness be evident to all. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5 NIV) Years ago I felt like a failure because gentleness was not always evident to my immediate family. God has truly nurtured that fruit in me all these years. I have a much gentler spirit than I used to have. As we grow in the Lord we also become wiser. In James 3:17 we read about wisdom being gentle, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.”
Gentleness has other purposes. It can “break a bone” or “turn away anger”. There’s that calming effect again. “A ruler can be persuaded through patience, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15) “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) I find it hard to be gentle during an argument. I want to do my share of barking and maybe some biting as well, [VP1] yet it is humbling to see the effect of gentleness. It can shut down the argument and leave the irate person speechless. It may actually calm them down and win them over.
That takes us back to 1 Peter 3:1-6, winning over husbands with gentleness. We children of God can use our gentleness to win over unbelievers. Let us make ourselves beautiful and clothe ourselves with gentleness. The calming effect is much needed in this chaotic world.
All Bible quotes are from the Holmen Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
May this article bless you and the Holy Spirit speak to you of His Truth.
© 2017 Laura Frohmader