“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” -Galatians 5:22-23
Gentleness – The quality of being kind, courteous and thoughtful of others.
Have you noticed that our culture seems to find this quality unnecessary? We prize the aggressive and the violent but seem to have no place for those who are gentle. Those that have a tender quiet spirit and instead of demanding their own way will defer to another. Our culture is raising children to be “get all you can, anyway you can” people. But we as followers of Jesus Christ are called to take a different road, because Jesus did.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
We often mistake timidity for gentleness, it is not. Timidity is seeking to protect oneself from others, gentleness is giving of oneself to others. Timidity is reactive, gentleness is proactive. It is a risk to be gentle and takes courage to reach out to others and offer kindness instead of scorn.
Have you ever noticed how refreshing it is to be with a truly gentle person? Someone who cares about your concerns and takes time to listen and understand you without judgement. When you’re in the presence of someone like that it is wonderful. Jesus was like that … that’s one of the reasons those who were the outcasts of society flocked to him. It was his gentle spirit.
Jesus reaches out to us to come to him with our broken desperate lives in gentleness and with great patience. This is the message that he brings to our weary generation; tired of trying to claw our way to the top and hungry for genuine comfort.
Of course, this is not all Jesus is … he is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords who will judge the world in righteousness. But gentleness is an important part of his nature, one that he desires to reproduce in us through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. So when we are living a life that is empowered by the Spirit we are evidencing the fruit of gentleness just like Jesus.
How do we encourage our children to develop this fruit? First we realize that just like the other fruits of the Spirit it is God’s work in their hearts. It is not natural for humans to be gentle, it's supernatural. Here are some other practical suggestions.
- Pray that God would produce the fruit of gentleness in your child
- Observe those who have a gentle spirit in the presence of your children and praise them. Children will naturally pick up your priorities so if you are observing this quality in others and speaking about it to your children the will too.
- Draw attention to times when your child demonstrates gentleness and praise them. Let’s break the pattern of only praising our children for their accomplishments (school work, athletic competition etc.) and focus on these more fundamental and godly qualities.
- Find historical literature that exemplifies these qualities (remember there was a time when men were called gentlemen and it meant something)
- Be an example of a truly gentle person. If you’re concerned about this then pray that God would produce the fruit of gentleness in your life and your example will be a great influence on your children.
Finally what are the qualities that are the greatest evidence to the world that we are followers of Christ? Yes, we are to be people of truth but the world is not interested in our truth unless they see that our lives have a quality that invites them to listen. So go and be gentle!
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near”