“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Philippians 4:5
The spiritual fruit of gentleness is perhaps the most undervalued characteristic of the fruit of the spirit. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that it’s the characteristic that we tend to undervalue in ourselves while we like to expect it in others.
We call gentleness by other names like: sympathy, empathy, compassion, understanding, tact, thoughtfulness, etc. Gentleness, like kindness, balances the other “stronger” characteristics. Faithfulness, self control, goodness, and others without gentleness can at times become overbearing and insensitive. For example, without gentleness righteousness can become exacting and oppressive making us appear to care more about standards than we do people and relationships. Which is completely counter productive when you consider that the rules of righteousness were put in place to help us better care about people and relationships.
But we tend to think of gentleness as a weakness. And that’s because when we stop to think more about others we often make decisions that don’t benefit ourselves as much and may even cost us. And in a self serving world that’s weakness.
But God is calling us to become a part of His kingdom, and He tells us that his ways are not our ways. When we would have exposed Judas’ treachery Jesus quietly said, “Do what you’re going to do quickly.” When we would come out fighting tooth and nail Jesus said, “Put your sword away. Don’t you know I could call 10,000 angels if I wanted to.” And if it had been left to us we would have ended this world long ago but God, in his gentleness, is patient, not wanting anyone to perish.
If we’re going to make heaven our home we need to more strongly adopt the ways of God, gentleness included, and that requires the strength found in the fruit of the Spirit.