“But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, longsuffering,
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:
against such there is no law.”
There is something enjoyable about interacting with gentle people, who are delicate and docile in their demeanor. They bring a calming solace to challenges, conflicts and chaos. I’d much rather receive peaceful, softly-spoken replies and patient responses than experience harsh, loud, and combative reactions in the heat of distress. However, in this word study on “gentleness,” we’ll learn how God is instructing us to be more than just soft-spoken and mild mannered.
My understanding of what “gentle” means pretty much coincided with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition that states:
“free from harshness, sternness, or violence”
I wish I could say that was me in every moment, but I’d be lying to us. My behavior could totally stand improvement when I let frustration, fights, or fears upset me. I despise conflict. Yet, my first reaction to hurt or harm is to show anger. To be totally transparent, when I feel cornered or dismissed, I can get downright petty, show some hatefulness, storm off, slam a door, let ugly words fly, and feel smugly justified in my pitiful response. It’s distasteful and I’m ashamed to admit that those experiences of suppressed gentleness are never my finest moments.
That basic definition applies in some contexts. However, a focused look at “gentleness” as used in Galatians 5:22 reveals a much deeper and distinctive meaning:
Gentleness – Greek #5544 chrēstotēs
From G5543; usefulness, that is, moral excellence (in character or demeanor): –
This research showed me a different definition from what I thought it meant and made me dig further.
The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines “usefulness,” “moral,” and “excellence” in this way;
Conduciveness to some end, properly to some valuable end;
1. Relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined.
1. A valuable quality; any thing highly laudable, meritorious or virtuous, in persons, or valuable and esteemed, in things.
Moral Excellence in Character
According to the Merriam Webster 2022 Online Dictionary, our character is essentially made up of attributes, features, traits or qualities that distinguish us as individuals. To exhibit “usefulness, that is moral excellence in character” is to display the fruit of gentleness in a specific way that distinguishes us as a child of God and reveals if our character is:
- right or wrong
- good or evil
- virtuous or vicious
As Christians, our moral standard should measure up to God’s standards, not the world’s (Romans 12:1-2). We should display the Godly qualities of a humble believer and not the evil ways of hard-hearted unbelievers. Our spiritual character should set us apart from secular culture.
Moral Excellence in Demeanor
This morality also applies to our attitudes and actions in our relationships. Gentleness should change our demeanor and put us in a better frame of mind to respond and behave in Christ-like ways with others.
God’s Holy Spirit provides the moral excellence to help us grow in our character and demeanor. This fruit of gentleness is ripe and ready for harvesting and nurturing more useful lives.
Bring It Home
Are you seeing the fruit of gentleness in your garden?
Praying for you as we grow together, Smiles, BRC