The fruit of the Spirit

Documentation Published on Tuesday, 03 May 2022

The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness: Nine spirit-filled characteristics demonstrated by Jesus

The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness: Nine spirit-filled characteristics demonstrated by Jesus

Paul often compared things to one another to show how we should overcome the world, its vices (Galatians 5:19-21), and its broad road that leads to damnation. He encourages us to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18) and then proceeds to explain what this involves. This is surely one of the most memorable pieces of Scripture, and it is a practical guideline for us as believers:

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23


The fifth fruit in the series Paul mentions is gentleness. Have you ever heard of the term “gentle giant”? This is the big guy we all know – muscled and brawny, the envy of the smaller guys around him. This is also the guy who helps an older person carry their bags, picks up a child and takes a thorn out of their foot. When he speaks, his real character comes to the fore. He is not the giant that destroys everything. He is soft spoken, compassionate, helpful. He displays gentleness.

Gentleness as Paul uses it here is very close to the eighth example of the fruit of the Spirit, meekness, but it is not to be confused with weakness. The words gentleness and meekness both appear in the list of the nine fruits of the Spirit, and we do not really have an accurate modern English translation for the original word. Just remember our gentle giant. There is an attitude in our time that emphasises an overpowering attitude to get what you want. Gentleness is the opposite. Gentleness gives the other person time to speak and room to live.

The original meaning of the word may have become lost in our modern translations, and the use of the word in general. The word πρᾳΰτης is transliterated as prautés and means “power with reserve and gentleness” – like our gentle giant. More than this, it represents humility towards God, accepting His will for our lives, even if it does not seem to make sense to us. In addition, when we allow God’s will to be reflected in our lives, it will also be evident in our actions towards others. Have a look how Jesus portrays the attitude of gentleness:

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30

To spend time with the Creator of the universe must have been a wonderful experience. Look at His invitation – come to Me. There is no harsh call to arms or a belching out of commands, but a calm invitation for those of us who are tired of the burdens we carry. Look at the result – I will give you rest. There is no condemnation of our weakness. Then He suggests the following – Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me. How I would have loved to be with Him and learn from Him! Look at the next part – I am meek (prautés) and lowly in heart (gentle minded). The reward is this – you will find rest because my yoke is easy to carry, and the load is light. While He is the Creator of the universe, He is also the gentle friend who invites us to take a break and spend time with Him. Now imagine if we simply heed the call of the Holy Spirit, show the fruit of gentleness, and be like Him. This is what it means to love a Spirit-filled life.

Paul understood the value of the fruit of the Spirit and applied it in his own life and teaching. Look how he addresses the church in Corinth:

1Now 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

He applies the fruit of the Spirit that he teaches to others, to himself, while also telling them about the character of Jesus, one who was meek and gentle. In the same manner Jesus would have done it, he approaches the members of the church with a Spirit of gentleness and shows them how to live a Spirit-filled life. As the founder of the church, he could have been harsh with them, pointing out their many shortcomings. Instead, he displays the mind of Christ (See 1 Corinthians 2:16).

There are many examples of situations where Jesus could have been less than gentle when exposing the sins of people. He could have rebuked the woman at the well (John 4:6-26) but chose to be kind and gentle and reveal Himself to her as Messiah. He could have done the same with the woman caught in adultery by scolding her, but He was gentle (John 8:3-11). He could have used the situation in Zacchaeus’ house to reprimand him for his sins as a tax collector, but He chose the gentle route instead and dined with him, in his house (Luke 19:1-28). Gentleness was part of His character.

Perhaps the greatest example of gentleness was displayed by Jesus as He prepared to die for the sins of the world. We read how He submits to the will of the Father without any argument (Matthew 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; and John 17:1-26). This morning is Good Friday, the day on which Jesus paid the price for our sins. As I write this, I try to imagine how things must have been like in the hours leading to the crucifixion.

We sometimes forget that the entire narrative of John, from chapter 13 to 19, spans only a few hours, from about early evening of the day before the crucifixion, to about 9 am the next morning. Yet in this time, He shared supper with the disciples (John 13:2); He washed their feet (John 13:4-12); we read how Judas was revealed as the one who would betray Him (John 13:21-30); He gives them some of the most powerful yet condensed teaching (John 14-16); He prays for His disciples (John 17:1-26); He is arrested (John 18:1-13); He is questioned (John 18:14-40); the crucifixion is prepared (John 19:1-29) 9 am; and He dies (John 19:30) about six hours later, 3 pm our time. In all this time, He never showed any other character trait than gentleness, even taking care of family matters (John 19:26-27) in His worst pain.


To love, joy, peace, and longsuffering, add the fruit of gentleness. Find situations where you can demonstrate that He who is in you, is greater that he that is in the world. Remember that in His hour of agony before He died, He demonstrated nothing but the fruit of the Spirit. So must we, always.

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