Even though I am very confident in my ability to use my hands, I have never been more scared than the first time I held my oldest child. I instantly felt like my hands were bricks and I was praying I wouldn’t break him. For the first time, I really had to think about what it meant to be gentle.
When you think of gentleness, what do you see? Babies? Puppies? Kittens? Chris Tomlin? Sure, those things are harmless. Cute. Cuddly. Adorable. Gentle.
The best way I can describe gentleness would probably be anything that has a lack of aggression. You can’t have any aggression when holding a baby or you might hurt it. If you are aggressive around a puppy it will run away and hide. If you show aggression toward Chris Tomlin, he might stop making songs that all sound alike.
Acting with gentleness is pretty much the opposite of acting with aggression.
Galatians 6:1 says that “if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” If you are approaching a fellow believer about a sin, that would be hard to do gently. You have to be careful not to come off as judgmental, angry, or confrontational.
The best way to do that is to remove all aggression. Approach them with love, let them know that you are only trying to help, and let them know you understand what it is like to struggle with sin (because we all do). Don’t get me wrong, you have to be assertive and direct if you plan to be any help whatsoever. You must be clear and honest. But any aggression whatsoever would push somebody away in that situation.
So what kind of gentle fruit can we produce? Gentleness seems like the most reserved and inactive of the fruit of the spirit. However, think about the previous example in Galatians 6. If you seek to restore a fellow Christian with gentleness, what do you think might happen?
You will become easier to talk to.
You will become more approachable.
You will build trust.
You will build a more solid relationship.
These things do not only apply to confronting sinful behavior. These fruit come from anything you do with gentleness, whether it is spending time with an old friend, meeting new friends, feeding the hungry, supporting widows and orphans, disciplining your children, meeting with a client, writing a letter or an email, posting on Facebook, or even just sitting in traffic.
When the Holy Spirit produces gentleness through you, all of your relationships and interactions will change. You will become a friend that a friend would love to have. You will become a stranger that is trusted and welcomed. You will become a disciple that better reflects their master. You will become a Christian that makes other people seek Christ.
Gentleness is a very powerful fruit. Never underestimate that.