Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It is a characteristic that God says we, as His people, must possess. Not just possess—we must demonstrate. It’s one that we are to allow others to see and witness in our lives. It’s a very important fruit.
You know, on this Pentecost--and, really, any Pentecost--I think all of us are aware of the different themes that we can discuss and be involved with. We talk about the beginning of the New Testament church…one [ theme ] I know that is preeminent in the minds of many of the brethren is the fact that we actually have access to the power of the living God and our Savior Jesus Christ. What a blessing! What a tremendous blessing that is.
If you turn, in reference, to Acts, chapter 1--I'm not going to turn to these necessarily--if you turn to Acts, chapter 1 , you will find after Jesus has been crucified and resurrected and He is there with His disciples, He tells them to remain in Jerusalem until you receive the power from on high [ Luke 24:49 Luke 24:49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father on you: but tarry you in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high.
American King James Version× ],until you receive that which is very much necessary for you to be a different individual and a different person. In John, chapter 14, v. 16-17 [ also John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version× ], we are told that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. It opens our mind and enables us to comprehend things that the human, normal mind cannot comprehend. Paul amply brings that out, does he not, in 1 Corinthians , where he talks about the natural mind of man, the spirit in man, as well as the Holy Spirit; and he tells us that we understand the things of the Spirit because of the Holy Spirit that is in us. We understand the things of God because of the Spirit of God that is in us. We are able to be like God and Jesus Christ because of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. As a matter of fact, he tells us very clearly--and I think we need to focus on this a little bit more in our lives--he tells us very clearly that we actually have the very mind of Jesus Christ. Now, that is a powerful, powerful mind. We actually have the mind of Jesus Christ within us.
And, then, in John, chapter 16, v. 7 --again, just referencing in the introduction--Jesus tells us very clearly that it is to our advantage that He went away, that He would die, that He would go to His Father in heaven, because "if I don't go away, the Helper will not come. If I do not go away, I will not send it to you. My Father and I will not be able to dwell within you," because that's the system that They have established. And so, v. 13-15 , for those of you who have turned there--I just want to reference this--as a matter of fact, I'll read this one to you:
John 16:13-15 John 16:13-15 13 However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you.
15 All things that the Father has are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it to you.
American King James Version×- "However, when He, or when it, the Spirit of truth, has come, It will guide you again into all truth; for It will not speak on Its own authority, but whatever It hears It will speak; and It will tell you things to come. It will glorify Me, for It will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that It will take of Mine and declare it to you."
Jesus Christ realized for us to become like Him, to be able to have His attributes, it was going to take the power of His Holy Spirit in us to bring about those changes.
What are some of the attributes of God? How about His character? We can go into a number of passages, but I think if you turn to Galatians, chapter 5 , beginning in v. 22 , you'll notice God's attributes here, attributes that can only be had by those of us in this room through the power of God's Holy Spirit. They're called the fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, it is joy, it is peace, it is longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
You can imbibe, indulge as much as you want. You can become a glutton with these fruits. You know, we have to be careful with food and alcohol. No drunkard shall inherit the Kingdom of God, but you can overindulge [ these fruits ] all you want--there is no law against these attributes of God. As a matter of fact, the more you have, the more you exemplify them, the better off you are, the better off I am. So there's no law against such. And then he says:
Galatians 5:24-25 Galatians 5:24-25 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
American King James Version×- And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. And then he says, If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
So we know the power of God's Holy Spirit, we're to walk in it; and it's to enable us to have these attributes that Christ so very much wants us to possess.
I want to discuss on this Pentecost a particular fruit of the Spirit. I was encouraged to discuss this fruit by my wife. She didn't say, "Frank, discuss this fruit." But she and I were discussing the fruits of the Spirit, oh, maybe a month or so ago; and she made the comment to me, she said, "Do you know what, sweetheart? I have never heard a sermon on the fruit of gentleness." I said, "Yes, you have! I've given a sermon on the fruit of gentleness. I've given a sermon or more on all the fruits." And she smiled at me and said, "No, you haven't." And so I began to reflect, you know, what have I covered? What have I discussed when it comes to the fruits of the Spirit? Well, I've discussed love; I've discussed joy; peace; longsuffering. I've gone through all of them [ sermons ]…but I honestly analyzed and came to the reality that I personally have never given a sermon on the fruit of gentleness. And yet, it is one that God says we, as His people, must possess. Not just possess--we must demonstrate. It's one that we are to allow others to see and witness in our lives. It's a very important fruit.
Now, keep in mind that all the fruits of the Spirit are not individually separate aspects of God's character. God is love. We know that for a reality. John very clearly tells us that. God is love [1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×, 16]. It is the complete definition of God. Hence, it follows that all the various fruits of His Spirit simply further define and clarify what Godly love looks like when displayed through a Godly, converted individual. That's what those fruits do: demonstrate, show what the love of God looks like in a converted individual with God's Holy Spirit.
So, if we live in the Spirit--and all of us say we do--let us walk in these attributes. Let us exemplify them. Let us possess them. Let them be a part of our very being.
I had the opportunity to teach at ABC this past week in a continuing education class, and mine was to give background on the writers of the gospel accounts, the history of the times in which they were written, as well as covering a survey, a summary, so to speak, of the Sermon on the Mount, with a focus on the Beatitudes. And it was a very enjoyable time. I thoroughly enjoyed being there with all those who were in the class; and in my studies, I had an opportunity to go through Barclay in the area of the Beatitudes. I want to read what Barclayhas to say. Turn to Matthew, chapter 5 . It's quite good. Remember, if we're going to live in the Spirit, we must walk in the Spirit, or live in the Spirit.
In the first two verses of Matthew, chapter 5, it says:
Matthew 5:1-2 Matthew 5:1-2 1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came to him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
American King James Version×- And seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them…
There's a tremendous amount in the expression, "then He opened His mouth," as well as the expression that He "taught them." When He opened His mouth, in the Greek it actually is used of "a solemn, grave, dignified utterance." It is used, for instance, of the saying of an oracle. It is the natural preface for a most weighty saying. It is used of a person's utterance when he is really opening his heart and fully pouring out his mind. So when it says that Jesus Christ, when He opened His mouth, He didn't just open His mouth and start speaking.
Now, He did, obviously do that; but what is being emphasized here is that He fully opened His heart and fully poured out His mind to His disciples. When it talks about "taught them saying," and I want to read this, it says:
In Greek, there are two past-tenses of the verb. There is the aorist tense, and the aorist tense expresses one particular action done and completed in past time. In this sentence, "He shut the gate," shut would be the aorist in Greek because it describes one completed action in the past.
So you do it, it's done. You do it, it's done. You do it, it's done.
Then there is the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense describes repeated, continuous, or habitual action in past time.
So when this imperfect tense is used, it means something that was done in the past on a regular ongoing basis. It wasn't just a one-time occurrence. It was ongoing all the time. It's important for us to understand.
The imperfect tense describes repeated, continuous, or habitual action in past times. In the sentence, "It was His custom to go to church every Sunday…"
Remember, this is Barclay, not me, OK? We'll change that to Saturday, because that was His custom--it was His custom to go to church every Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
…in Greek, "It was His custom to go," would be expressed by a single verb in the imperfect tense because it describes continuous and often repeated actions in the past.
So when it says that He continued, "as His custom was," it meant that He regularly did it. He didn't shut the door the first time He went in and came out. He didn't stop His actions. The same way with His teachings--He didn't stop His teachings.
Now the point is that in the Greek of this sentence which we are studying, the verb taught is not in aorist, but in imperfect [ tense ]; and, therefore, it describes repeated and habitual action. And the translation should be, "This is what He used to teach them. This is what He used to teach them regularly," ongoing, no stopping. When He was with the disciples, He taught them these things regularly. For instance, He didn't sit the disciples down and say, "OK, I'm going to give you the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. All done. We're finished." No, basically what Matthew did is, he took the teachings of Jesus Christ that were continually going on, historically. He [ Jesus ] taught and He taught and He taught and He taught; and He reiterated the same things over and over because He was describing who He was and what He wanted us to be come. And He knew He was going to make it possible through the power of His Holy Spirit. So He continually taught these things. And Matthew basically takes them and he puts them down as the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. I have no doubt that He sat and went through these chronologically with them, but it wasn't a one-time-fits-all. It was a regular, ongoing teaching because He knew that we needed to become like Him and His Father; and that included the attribute, the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness.
Let me wrap this up with my reading:
This is what He used to teach them. Matthew has said as plainly as Greek will say it, that the Sermon on the Mount is not one sermon of Jesus given at one particular time on one particular occasion. It is the essence of all that Jesus continually and habitually taught His disciples.
We can see that the Sermon on the Mount is far greater than what we may have even considered if we thought He gave it just at one time. It was ongoing, regular teaching. So, according to Barclay:
The Sermon on the Mount is nothing less than the concentrated memory of many hours of heart-to-heart communication between the disciples and their Master.
Remember, heart-to-heart, because if we go back to "He opened His mouth," it meant a person's utterance in which he is really opening his heart and fully pouring out of his mind.
It's important for us to understand that we walk in the Spirit. We live by these things; we incorporate them into our lives. And we are, thereby, able to teach them to others as they ask; and, especially, teach them to others as they see us in the life that we live.
If you look at blessed are the meek in the Beatitudes, the word translated meek --( v. 5 , by the way)--the word translated meek , "praeis ," occurs only three other times in the New Testament, as it does here in this scripture. Three other times. They are located in Matthew 11, v. 29 ; 25, v. 5 ; and 1 Peter, chapter 3 , and v. 5 .
Matthew 11, v. 29 , says this, starting in v. 28 : "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And, then, v. 29 , "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…"
In the sidebar here…I was reading in my studies for the ABC classes, and an individual brought out a very interesting point. He said that, obviously, we are to learn from Jesus Christ, we're to walk in His way, we're to know Him. Learning is very important on our part about Christ--what He does, what He accomplished. He said, "But if you go and check in the Bible, you will find only one place where it is stated, 'Learn from Me.'"Learn from Me--one place; and he says it is right here in Matthew, chapter 11 . My question to you is, what did He say to "learn from Me"?What did He say? Notice:
Matthew 11:29-30 Matthew 11:29-30 29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×- "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle, I am gentle, and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
So only three other places…. And meekness and gentleness are synonymous in many, many different ways. They are different. We'll briefly touch on that a little bit later. They are different, but they are synonymous in many, many ways.
In Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version× , where we were, chrestotes --forgive my Greek, Nick-- c-h-r-e-s-t-o-t-e-s, it actually means kindness, usefulness, again, translated gentleness . It means useful in an active kind of way. Don't lose that. It means useful in an "active" kind of way. You're active with your gentleness. It doesn't mean you're passive with your gentleness. He's a docile individual because he doesn't do anything. She's a docile person because all she does is lie around doing nothing. No, gentleness is an action that we are to be involved with. We are to demonstrate our gentleness in many differing ways.
In 2 Samuel 22, v. 36 , the word a-n-a-h , which is the Hebrew equivalent of c-h-r-e-s-t-o-t-e-s, actually means to bend low , and is translated gentleness . It says:
The word there actually means to bend low. If you tie that in with Psalm, chapter 116, v. 2 , where it says to bend low , it means that God bends down to listen to us. He bends down to assist us. He inclines His ear. He's gentle, wanting to see what is taking place.
A little side note for you adults out there. I learned this from another person about 35-40 years ago, and I found it to be helpful for me in talking with and communicating and enjoying little folk, who run around the congregation. They're called ankle biters, right? Running into your knee. They come and bump into you, they go [ a visual pantomime ]. Gentleness means to bend low. God bends down to listen to us and to assist us. An excellent strategy to adopt when dealing with children, when you speak with them, get down on their level so that you can look them square in the eyes. I could do that more easily in the past. But I still try to do that. When little tykes come running around and I say hi, I try to kneel down, get down right face-to-face with them and talk with them. It's amazing how they interact with you when you do that. You're not just giants standing above them. You're down there on their level. You bend low, and you're gentleness. You begin to communicate with the little ones. You talk with them and you express, you know, to them how you feel and ask them how they're doing.
We've got three or four in Dayton, "How you doing, sweetie?" "Fine." I love to whistle, and she's gotten…she comes up and sees me almost every Sabbath now and says hi, and I came in on one Sabbath day and I was whistling, and she was behind a pillar. And all of a sudden, she sticks her head around and she goes, [ whistle ]. She wanted to show me that she could whistle, too. Would she have done that if I had not tried to build a relationship with her? That's a sidebar, with regard to gentleness. Our children don't need gentleness just from their parents. They need gentleness from everyone in the congregation. Everyone in the congregation who takes time to say hi, who takes time just to kneel down to talk with them. It carries a lot of weight with these little people. And it will stand you in good stead. They will think you are better than sliced bread. Even better than sliced bread with peanut butter and jelly on it, so, you know, be willing to bend low. Christ was willing to bend His ear…again, the word in the Hebrew means to bend low , to work with us.
Psalms 18:35 Psalms 18:35You have also given me the shield of your salvation: and your right hand has held me up, and your gentleness has made me great.
American King James Version× says: …Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness , once again, has made me great.
It's another place where it says God's gentleness "has made me great." Again, the word means humility, gentleness . It means condescension , from the standpoint of bending down, OK? Not as we might look at it.
Let me read what Barnes has to say about this verse. It's also quite good.
" And thy gentleness has made me great." Or, "With thy meekness you have multiplied me." The word here rendered "gentleness" evidently means here "favor, goodness, kindness." It commonly means "humility, modesty," as applied to men. As applied to God, it means "mildness, clemency, favor." God grants favor. The idea is that God had dealt with him, that is David , in gentleness. He dealt with David in kindness, with clemency. We know that to be for sure, don't we? David was human; he made mistakes. So, again, the idea is that God had dealt with him in gentleness, kindness, clemency, and that to this fact alone, he owed all his prosperity and success in life.
It was God's gentleness that enabled him [ David ] to be made great. And we, as human beings, should not overlook that quality for sure, because God was and is a very gentle individual.
Gentleness is a value and quality in one's character. It's what describes you. It's in your character. It can be viewed as a refinement of your character. As you, all of you--maybe I can point out the men in particular--as you learn to develop the gentleness that Jesus Christ had as a man, you are beginning to refine your character as Jesus Christ wants us to have it refined.
Colossians, chapter 3, v. 12 .This is not a suggestion. This is a direct imperative command. Colossians 3 and v. 12 says this:
Colossians 3:12 Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
American King James Version×- Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another…
Those are all attributes of a gentle person, a gentle individual. He's merciful, he's kind, he's humble. Arrogant people have a hard time being gentle. Arrogant people have a hard time being gentle because if they are arrogant, they have to put themselves, where? Above you or circumstances or situations. They have a hard time admitting that they are wrong. Arrogant people have a hard time being gentle people. Therefore, we should not be, what? Arrogant people! Kind of the antithesis of meekness and gentleness. And God wants us to be meek and definitely gentle.
God desires us to have a gentle, Christlike personality such as a gentle spirit of kindness and love, a gentle spirit of humbleness and humility, as I mentioned, not prideful or filled with pride or boasting. There's a scripture in Proverbs, chapter 27, v. 2 that says:
Now, I don't want a show of hands, please, no hands, on either question. How many here in the audience find it very easy to praise yourself? No matter what you've done, what you've accomplished? Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying a person shouldn't feel good about what he or she has accomplished in life. You know, there should be…but it says, Let another man or in this case, as well, a woman, praise you, and not your own lips. So how are you in that category?
The second question is, do you know someone like that? I would probably get a lot of hands on that one. No one would raise his hand on the first one: Are you that way? Right? But potentially hands would go up if I said, do you know someone whose mouth only praises himself or herself? All they can do is talk about themselves, what they've accomplished, what they've done, how great they are, this business venture that they've accomplished. Again, balance that out. It's not wrong to talk about things with people, but I think you know the difference in what I'm referencing there.
A gentle spirit is a forgiving spirit, a quick-to-look-over-the-sins-of-others spirit, giving the benefit of the doubt. God desires us to have the manifestations of a gentleness. What does manifestation mean? Manifestation means a public demonstration. That's all it means, in the dictionary. So God says, "If you're going to demonstrate anything, if you're going to manifest anything, manifest a gentleness." He wants a manifestation of a gentle spirit.
I'm not going to go through the two examples. I will just reference them. But we're all aware of Stephen, are we not, one of the first deacons? Primarily chosen because they were gathering together there in Jerusalem and many of them were being kicked out of their homes. A lot of Jewish people were being removed because of becoming part of "the way," and Stephen was ordained to help keep things organized. Some of the widows were not being taken care of; and so, they ordained the seven deacons primarily for that reason.
He was well versed in communication skills. You may remember the story where he stood up before the court, the Sanhedrin; and he gave this eloquent speech. Right on! But they did not have a spirit of humility. They didn't see things the same way he did. They were upset, so what did they do? They killed him. They stoned him to death. Do you remember what Stephen said? He said the same thing that Jesus Christ said when Christ was dying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He was a very humble man, a very gentle man. And we'll see that gentleness is one who does not seek revenge. I mean, Stephen could very much have been thinking, "In the Kingdom, I'm going to get these guys. They're mine! Let me make sure I recognize you. Yeah, you're so-and-so and you're so-and-so." No, he didn't think that way. His spirit and attitude were one of forgiveness, of not wanting to hold anything against them, while he was willing to fulfill the responsibility that Jesus Christ gave to him. But, again, he said, in essence, the same thing: "Lay not this sin to their charge." And, of course, Christ said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." So again, God desires us to practice using the fruit of His Spirit of gentleness, of kindness.
Ephesians 4, v. 32, tells us: And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
This is an attitude that those who are people of "the way," those who are followers of Jesus Christ…if you remember, part of the body of Christ in the early New Testament church was known as people of "the way." They later were called Christians, but they were of "the way." I like that expression because isn't it that [ if ] we walk in the spirit, we are of "the way"? The way of life that we live? So we're being told. So people of "the way" act very kind and loving. Are you part of the people of "the way"?
People of "the way" try not to act out with bad attitudes. Aaron Dean will remember being at Ambassador College, and one of the favorite expressions from the faculty members was that "you have a B.A." That wasn't a Bachelor of Arts degree. "You've got a bad attitude!" I was told that more than once. My wife was told that constantly. [ Laughter ] Not really! I can get away with that because she's back there and I'm up here…until we drive home!
So we're not to be people who have rotten attitudes. People of "the way," you know, don't use anger against people. Aren't hurtful. People of "the way," you know, aren't harsh and hateful to other people. People of "the way" are tenderhearted, reaching out for others. People of "the way" forgive others, with all gentleness. Of all the hearts that they possess, remember what we were told, there in Barclay? When Christ spoke, He spoke from the heart. What He did had great empathy and compassion and mercy because He knew it would benefit those who were to follow Him.
Spirit-filled believers, people of "the way," have good attitudes. So when I see Ron Kelly, I'm going to say, "Why didn't you guys use G.A. a little bit more often, instead of B.A.?" I understand he's going to be at the Ambassador reunion in Texas. My wife and I are not going, but he's going to be there. But he called me on three different occasions and said, "Frank, you've got a B.A." All I did was ask him a question! This is being recorded, isn't it? I think he said I had a B.A. because he didn't know the answer to my question, but that's fine.
So G.A.[ good attitudes ] are kindness, gentleness, having a right heart before God. Let me ask you a few questions here. First, let's consider others interacting with us, OK. Others interacting with us. Question:
Do you prefer when someone talks to you calmly and gently, or when they yell at you or speak aggressively at you? I mean, these are rhetorical questions, are they not? People respond better to gentleness in speech. Always have, always will.
Do you prefer when someone handles your property with care and gentleness, or just throws it around or slams it into other things? Well, I would prefer that you use my property gently. There are some people I would never allow to use my golf clubs. I've seen them throw their own.
Do you prefer when someone is waiting for you that they wait patiently, or persistently try to hurry you up? Well, I got a few snickers on that one. People prefer others to wait patiently when they are trying to get something done. "Well, come on, come on, come on. Come on, come on!" All that does is slows up the individual trying to get something done, if you didn't realize that.
Do you prefer when someone is helping you with a problem that they patiently work with you, trying to understand your difficulties and help you with them, or that they insult you, putting you down for your shortcomings? "Well, I knew you'd have that problem. That's just the way you are." No, people prefer loving assistance. Gentle people give loving assistance. They want to help wherever they can.
Now, let us consider our own actions. Those were other peoples' actions. Let's consider our own actions with others, OK, and with things.
How do I treat my family? Am I patient with them, or demanding all the time? Am I patient or demanding? Do I respect their wants in their lives, or do I force my way on my family? It could be husband or wife, "It will be done the way I want it done, one way or the other." I mean, it's an art to get things done all the time the way you want them. I've seen people who are just, they make a profession--they're so good--out of manipulation. I've seen that too often. Am I considerate of my family and my home?
How do you treat your coworkers? How do I treat my coworkers? Am I patient with them, or demanding all the time? Do I treat them with respect? Do I treat them with abruptness, like my time is much more valuable than theirs? Gentleness will describe how you treat these individuals.
How do I treat other people in my community? Am I patient and gentle with others that I meet? Whether in stores or in cars? Hey, guys, how you doing with that one? Gentle. How do I treat others in cars? I haven't always been the most gentle person there, I'll guarantee you that. In parking lots, in restaurants, at school, at meetings, at sports events, do I treat them with respect?
How do I treat property? Does it vary by whether it is my property or someone else's property? Do I treat property with care or just throw it around? Do I consider my property just a loan from God at the present moment? Because God blesses us with everything that we have, gives us all the things that we possess.
And then, I have a very important question. Would I treat Jesus Christ the way I treat other people? Oh, that's a biggy! That takes a lot of thought. Do I treat Jesus Christ the way I treat other people? Would I treat Jesus Christ the way I treat other people? What if Jesus were to move into your home for one week? Oh, forget it! What if Jesus Christ were to move into your home for one month? What would you be like that month in that household? How would you treat your wife? How would you treat your husband? How would you treat your family when He's sitting in the living room? I've got a secret for you. He sits in your living room every single day. He's actually in you by the power of the Holy Spirit. But, you see, we don't always think of it that way, do we? That He is actually right there. Therefore, what we do in secret is not really a secret. It may be to other people around us, but it isn't to God and Jesus Christ, because He is there. So, would you treat Jesus Christ the way you treat others?
Now, some people think, especially men, "Gentleness. Wow! That's an effeminate sissy trait." No, it's not. Jesus Christ said, "I am gentle." Gentleness is not a sissy trait. It is not unmanly. Remember that Jesus, Moses, Stephen, Paul, just to name a few, all are called gentle men.
There are two gentle giants that I am familiar with--one in reading and another was from a TV program. And my wife and I--I was talking with her coming down and I said I want to throw this in as an example. I said, "Who was that gentle giant wrestler? He played in the movie "Princess Bride." Remember that "somebody" the giant? Andr the Giant? People that knew him said that he was a gentle giant. I think, I THINK, most all of us realize that wrestling is fake, right? It is choreographed. In real life, Andr the Giant was a giant who was very gentle. He was known as a very gentle, gentle man.
Do you know who else in history was called a gentle giant? And they called him that because he was quite large in the time in which he lived. It was one of our greatest presidents, George Washington. George Washington, if I'm not mistake was, what? Six three, six four, back when people were four two! Many years ago, he was called a gentle giant. George Washington was called a gentle giant. He reminds you of Moses. Maybe you'll understand when I give you this example. George Washington could have been king. I think all of us who love history know that. He could have been king here in the United States. But, you know, George Washington saw something greater for this nation; and it was his meekness, it was his humility and his gentleness that ruled his spirit, because he refused to be king. Now, he did become president; but he refused to have that position for life. He refused to be king. Now, how many would have done that? How many? In Congress, how many would have refused being king? George Washington was known as a gentle giant, and he was truly big; but he was a giant of a man as well. In character, in stature, he was a giant of an individual.
When you think of Moses, God told Moses, when things were kind of iffy, "I will eliminate all of them and I will start anew with you, Moses." "God, I knew you would wake up. I knew it! I knew you would come to your senses!" No, he [ Moses ] said, "Don't do that, Lord. Forgive them their sins." And then, he said, "Besides, Father, if You do that, You're going to bring a mark, a smudge, on Your own name. They're going to say You brought all these people out here into the desert and You couldn't take care of them, so You killed them." I mean, Moses and Abraham are wonderful studies in psychology, in how they reasoned and talked with God. All of you are familiar with Abraham and the issue with Lot. I mean, it's a wonderful study in psychology.
So, those are just a few men that we can mention. Gentleness does not make us lesser men. When you really understand it, it is a true characteristic of manhood. As a matter of fact, historically we were called "gentle-men," right? Some of those attributes have faded by the wayside, to say the least. So it is to be a way of life for all of us.
I looked up a few definitions for gentleness . In the Latin it is gentilis or genteel , and it means courteous, noble. I want you to think about that one. Courteous and noble.
I've got a paper here that I grabbed right at the last…what did I do with that? Bear with me…here it is. It means courteous and noble. How many here remember Emile Post? She wrote about etiquette, manners. You don't hear a lot taught about manners and etiquette these days. You really don't. Etiquette and manners are behaviors that convey honor and respect for other people. Courtesy is a way of showing love to your neighbor. That is why being genteel, a gentleman, or a gentlewoman, is both a fruit of God's Spirit, Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version× , and an aspect of love, when you think about it. Courtesy is a way of showing love. Again, courteous and noble are definitions given for gentle.
1 Corinthians, chapter 13, v. 5 , if you want to look that up, feel free to do so. That's the love chapter, and it says that love does not behave rudely. It's gentle. It applies etiquette and manners. That's why it's wise for parents to teach their children good etiquette and good manners. Of course, that means what? You must have good etiquette and good manners to teach them. So if you don't have good manners and etiquette and you have small children, you know, go find Emily Post's book or somebody else's book on etiquette and manners. You're showing courtesy to other people. You're being gentle to them in many respects.
The old French word as well as middle English inferred that someone had a quality of meekness, as we've seen. It also meant that it was supposed to be a characteristic of noble birth and the ruling class. That was what it was supposed to mean, OK? However, I think if we do a history, we'll find that there have been many moments of institutionalized ruthlessness within the gentle class. But, by definition, it does mean, it's a quality of noble birth of the ruling class.
Now, question. What does God say you are to become? And really even are, when you understand it. You are to become kings and priests. Those are, you know, positions of nobility in the very Family and the Kingdom of God. And so, God says, you know, as you fulfill your position as a king and a priest, part of the nobility that you are to exhibit is the characteristic of gentleness with those that you work with and that you deal with. Christ very much taught the fruit of gentleness.
I want to read something from a gentleman by the name of Phil Ware. He writes The Forgotten Virtue. He says:
By most accounts, life is extremely busy for most of us. Productivity is
the bottom line. Stress, financial concerns, work output, and "making
things happen" push us to "cut through the fat" and to "get the work
out." Being rude, untactful, "brutally honest," and harsh become virtues
that need no apology if they help to get done what needs to be done.
Courtesy, affability, and tenderness are shoved aside for traits that get
more immediate results.
Now, I will give you a little bit of good news. You'll find that there are some people in the business world…some corporations are beginning to find out that that really is not as effective as what it needs to be. There have been many books written over the past decade or so--Covey's book, The 7 Habits…-- that talk about industry and also talk about how you treat and deal with your fellow employees or employer. Gray is another one. There are a lot of books out there on leadership that talk about the virtue of gentleness as being something that really enhances the workplace. There still are far too few who apply that in the workplace and, unfortunately, too many who don't even apply it in the home place. Gentleness should not be a forgotten virtue, as Ware states.
There are three categories I want you to consider when it comes to gentleness.
1. A gentle King
We're to be kings and priests. Matthew 11:29 Matthew 11:29Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
American King James Version× , we read in the beginning. It says:
Matthew 11:29 Matthew 11:29Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
American King James Version×- "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…" That's Jesus Christ. He's coming to be, what? King of kings. The only one who has any greater authority than Jesus Christ is the Father. And He says, "You will find rest for your souls."
Jesus Christ's first coming we know had to be as a suffering servant, right? The second coming, He's coming as King. So when He came the first time, how did He come in Jerusalem? Did He come in on a white stallion? No. He came in, how? He came in on a donkey. He came in on a foal. He came in riding, saying, "Your future King comes in with humility. He comes in to give His life for the world." A very gentle individual.
2. A gentle people
How about the second category, gentle people. This would be all of us, a gentle people. We already saw in Galatians 5:23 Galatians 5:23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version× where it says as far as gentleness and self-control are concerned, against such there is no law. But how about Galatians 6 and v. 1 ? It says:
Galatians 6:1 Galatians 6:1Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.
American King James Version×- If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual, you who are spiritual. Not you who are self-righteous. There's a difference, by the way. A person who is self-righteous doesn't recognize it, but there is a difference. You who are spiritual, you who are like your Father in heaven, you who are like your elder brother Jesus Christ, he says "you" restore him gently; but watch yourselves or you also may be tempted. You have the same, potentially the same things that can impact you, so you need to realize when you deal with an individual and you go to your brother or your sister because you love them, you go with a gentle attitude, not with an attitude of, "You creep! What in the world do you think you're doing, you idiot! You don't even belong in the Kingdom of God!" That's getting pretty harsh, isn't it? I'm exaggerating for effect. But God says as a people, we are to be gentle with one another, even those that may be having an issue. You go and talk with them and you go to them gently.
Ephesians 4:2 Ephesians 4:2With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
American King James Version× , I referenced this earlier. It says to be completely humble and gentle and be patient, bearing with one another in love.
You know, the Bible says [ Ephesians 4:15 Ephesians 4:15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
American King James Version× ], speaking the truth , does it not? Is there a period there? There isn't, is there? What does it say? Speaking the truth, probably the most important words follow, in love . That would be speaking the truth gently, kindly.
My wife and I have discussed the fact that when we speak the truth, the more truth we speak, probably, the more love we need. I don't know if you fall into that category or not; but the more love you need, the more truth you speak sometimes. And that love is very important if the truth is going to be really effective.
Colossians 3:12 Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
American King James Version×- Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved, clothe yourself… now I look out over the audience, and I don't see anyone naked out there, for which I'm very grateful. All of you got up and clothed yourself before you came to church this morning. You got up and put something on. And since you were coming to Pentecost, you probably put on something pretty nice. A suit, a nice dress, shoes are probably polished. You clothed yourself to go out in public. We're told here in Colossians 3:12 Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering;
American King James Version×, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is the spiritual clothing that God expects us to put on. We like to look good--for some of us, it's harder than you can imagine--but, humanly, we like to look good. God says look good spiritually. That's where it is. If you remember, when David was being chosen king, it said that God looks upon the heart, not as man looks. He looks on the heart, what's on the inside, what it is that makes you what you are. Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
In 1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
American King James Version× , again, speaking of a people…this is something, hopefully, all of us can do. But when we do it, God tells us how to do it.
1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
American King James Version×- But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that lies within you, for the truth that you have, when they really want to know,that from your heart you can express it to them, as Christ did, you know, to His disciples. We read there from Barclay that Christ opened up His heart and He expressed it. But it [ 1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
American King James Version× ] says what? … the hope that lies within you, but do this with gentleness and respect. When they come and ask you a question, "Well, sit down. Let me get on my teacher's coat because I know more than you. I'm better than you, and one day you will reach my status, if you really listen to what I have to say because I've got the truth! I've got the knowledge! I've got the understanding, and you are just a babe." Now, that's not the way we do it, but it says [ we should do it ] with gentleness and respect. You sit down and you talk with someone and you answer their questions kindly. You're not, you know, hitting them with a left and then crossing over with a right, saying, "Yeah, you've been involved with paganism a long time! As a matter of fact, if you don't change, you're going to go to hell and you know what? It's not what you think it is!" You know, you give an answer for the hope that lies within you with gentleness and respect.
3. A gentle ministry
A third area I want to discuss is that we in United are really wanting to move into this arena, and that is a gentle ministry. We need--and should have had all along--a gentle ministry. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2 , and v. 7 :
1 Thessalonians 2:7 1 Thessalonians 2:7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:
American King James Version×- But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.
That's how Paul dealt with them. Christ dealt with people in a very gentle manner, always. The only time He got straight-forward was with the religious leaders who should have known better. Matthew 23 . What's interesting about Matthew 23, when you go through the woes, He gets to the end and you know how He concludes that chapter? I don't have that in my notes--it just came to my mind here. He concludes that chapter after really talking with these guys and telling them where they were because they were hurting His people, He ends it up by saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! I would have gathered you together as a mother hen does her chicks, but you would not have it." Again, showing that gentleness. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I would have done this! But you would not have it." So He was a very gentle individual.
1Timothy 3, v. 3 , qualities of the ministry, or at least, they should be.
1Timothy 3:3 - …not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money…
1 Timothy, chapter 6, v. 11 - But you, man of God, flee from all of this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
So Paul is emphasizing to Timothy the nature that he needs, and, thereby, the nature all of us need who are in the ministry, who have been blessed to serve you, because it is a blessing. It is a blessing.
2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
American King James Version× . I'll spend just a tad more time on it. 2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
American King James Version×, Paul writing to Timothy, he says:
2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
American King James Version×- In humility correcting those who oppose… did Paul have anyone who opposed him? You'd better believe it! He's telling Timothy, "You're going to have those who oppose you." Have we had ministers in our history who have had people who have opposed them? Opposing a minister in our past? Some, not all…it meant if you asked him a question, you were in a bad attitude because you asked him a question. It should not have been that way. He says of those who oppose him, he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth.
You see, I acknowledge--and I have no problem acknowledging this--I acknowledge that there were some in the ministry who didn't take being opposed very easily. I don't know if any of you ever experienced that, where you went up and thought you were just asking a question and wanted to talk about something or had a different opinion about how something should be done and you wanted to give a suggestion; and the fact that you did it, what happened? Hopefully, you had a gentle minister that you went to; but I know for a fact and a reality that we have had some--I'm not mentioning names and don't even intend to go there--who when you went up and opposed them--and almost anything was opposing some--there was not a gentle spirit. It was, "How dare you! Don't you know who I am? I'm a minister of Jesus Christ!" My answer today--not back then, because I was a man under authority and didn't have the knowledge I have today--is, "Well, then, act like one! Act like a minister of Jesus Christ, with gentleness and kindness and love and consideration."
You've got a [ gentle ] King; you've got the people that all of us are; and you've got a gentle ministry; and we want to have Christlike service. That's a model that we are beginning to really emphasize.
In Hebrew 5, v. 2 , it says:
Hebrews 5:2 Hebrews 5:2Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
American King James Version×- He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
That was a point that Christ emphasized about the high priest. He really was only a man. Now, granted, he had a responsibility; but he was still human. He had his own faults, his own issues to deal with. Thereby, he should not be judgmental or condemning of those who have come to him.
Think about Christ. Christ, shall we say, "the way"? It talks about the "strait" and "narrow" [ in Matthew 7:14 Matthew 7:14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
American King James Version×KJV ]. In class we discussed that "strait" and "narrow" means you don't go to extremes. You don't go to extremes. You're not condemning, but you're not condoning. The woman brought to Him who was caught in the act of adultery…first question, where's the guy? She's caught in the act. They want her stoned. They're trying to trip Christ up. He kneels down and He writes on the ground, and He stands up and He says, in essence, "He who is without sin cast the first stone." He kneels down again and stands up and they're gone. He looks at the lady and says, "Where are those who condemn you." She says, "They're not here, Lord." He says, what? "Neither do I condemn you." He was not condemning. He came to save mankind. Did He agree with what she did? No. And He told her to go and sin no more.
Just because you don't condemn people and you're not judgmental and you try to get along with them doesn't mean you lower your standards. You maintain your own Christian standards and live by them. We're people of "the way." Walk the middle road. The middle road in Christianity is a good road to walk. Now, if you happen to be watching the movie "Karate Kid," you know, wax on, wax off, if you walk down the middle, you get run over both ways. But we're not talking about that. We're talking about Christianity. A gentle King, a gentle people, and a gentle ministry.
Jerry Bridges, who is an author, distinguishes the two--gentleness and meekness--the same way the Greek writers do. Gentleness is an active trait describing the manner in which we should treat others . Let me re-read that. Gentleness is an active …remember the actions again…it is an active trait describing the manner in which we should treat others. Meekness is a passive trait describing the proper Christian response when others mistreat us. We respond with meekness.
1 Peter 3:9 1 Peter 3:9Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.
American King James Version× comes to my mind when Peter says that people of "the way" don't render railing for railing, right? We respond in meekness. When someone rails, we don't respond the same way, because God has called us to peace.
There is a scripture that should be applied for gentle people when it comes to railing. It's Proverbs, chapter 15 , and v. 1 . Anybody know what that says? A gentle answer turns away wrath. So when someone rails against you, a gentle response, a meek response is the best. Always has been; always will be.
In my marriage workshop, I give the example--my wife corrected me the first time I ever gave it. She told me to make sure you tell the people that was a hypothetical example that you used, because I used the example that if I came in from the garage into the kitchen and I saw my wife slamming cabinet doors and kicking the table and pushing chairs up and just a foul attitude on her face and I walked in and said, "Sonya, what's wrong with you now?"--the second part of Proverbs 15 would come into play, right? Harsh answer, harsh response. But if I come in and I say, "Sweetheart, I can see that you are upset. Something has impacted you. I don't know what it is. I have no idea what just happened, but I want you to know that I'm here for you. I love you and if there's anything I can do to help you…" You will normally find that person who is up here, doing what? Shhhhh…coming down. You can see why my wife told me to make sure I emphasized that was a hypothetical. I've never seen my wife kicking tables, throwing chairs, you know, slamming doors. Throwing knives is another thing, but, you know…[ laughter ]. No, she doesn't do that either, so gentleness is an active trait describing the manner in which we should treat others; meekness is a passive trait describing the proper Christian response when others mistreat us.
Let's begin to move a little faster here. I've got ten minutes. Both gentleness and meekness are born of power, not weakness. They're born of power. Open your Bible to Isaiah 40 and I want to look at the following verses in the following order for a very specific reason. Isaiah 40 , v. 10 , and remember, meekness and gentleness are born of power, not weakness.
V. 10 of Isaiah 40 - See, the sovereign Lord comes with power, and His arm rules Him. See, His reward is with Him and His recompense accompanies Him.
Notice v. 15 - Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket. They are regarded as dust on the scales. He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Notice v. 25-26 - "To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?" says the Holy One. "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all of these? And who brings out the starry host, one by one, and calls them each by name? Because of His great power and His mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
Now, I want you to go back to v. 11 . No one can say this is a very wimpy guy, our Lord and Master, our Messiah, our Creator, the Living God!
Isaiah 40:11 Isaiah 40:11He 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.
American King James Version× - He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and He carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that have young.
This powerful being has a very wonderful gentle side to Him. It's part of His nature. It's part of His kindness. Gentleness is the way we treat others. Christ amply said, "I am gentle and of a humble heart," as we saw in Matthew 11 earlier. He says, "I will give you rest for your souls." What does He mean, "I will give you rest"? He carries Sominex around in His pocket, some kind of sleeping aid that He gives to you when you go to bed at night? Does it mean to lay down? I don't think so. Rest here in Matthew 11, rest is not an inactive rest. Rest is an inward tranquility while one performs necessary labor. That's what the gentle God does for us. It is an inward tranquility while one performs necessary labor. The Lord promises inner tranquility to the weary and heavy laden who come to Him while they are engaged in necessary labor. That's the rest that God gives to us. I think all of us realize the ultimate rest will be in the family and Kingdom of God; and we have a weekly rest, called the beautiful Sabbath day, that God wants us to be involved with.
Let me give you one very quick definition for love, because it ties in with gentleness. If I were to define love for you, first of all I would say God. God is love. But love defined is kindness and respect. That's what love is, when you think about it. Love is kindness and respect that we give to each other. When you give people kindness and respect, you are exhibiting love to them in many, many ways. Now, brethren, we know that God tells us that we are to give mercy and you'll receive mercy, right? We're told, also, that if we forgive, God will forgive us. That's Matthew 5:7 Matthew 5:7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
American King James Version× and Matthew 6:14 Matthew 6:14For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
American King James Version× in the Beatitudes. We're also told very clearly in Matthew 7:1-3 Matthew 7:1-3 1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?
American King James Version× , with what judgment you judge you will be judged. So if you give mercy, you'll get mercy; if you give judgment, you get judgment. Which side do you want to be on? What do you want to receive? What you receive will depend upon what you give and what you do.
Let me conclude by reminding you of Barclay and the imperfect tense, where he said that all that Christ gave to His disciples there where we read in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, was something that He did regularly. It was an ongoing process in the past, not a one-time event. We need to live our lives as people of "the way," with God's Holy Spirit, this day of Pentecost, with an ongoing process of living the teachings that God has given to us. You know, we the people of "the way" are gentle. The people of "the way" are kind. The people of "the way" are considerate. The people of "the way" are compassionate and they are merciful. And people of "the way" manifest the fruit of gentleness.