But the fruit of the Spirit is…gentleness…. Galatians 5:23
We’ve covered most of the qualities of God’s Spirit. Now comes “gentleness.” Gentleness? The God of Creation who smote the Egyptians, purged Canaan of the wicked people who squatted there, and humiliated, then destroyed, the priests of Baal? God, who exiled His favored people numerous times? Who watched as small men nailed His own Son’s hands and feet to a tree? That’s gentle?
When I think of gentleness, I think of a sleeping baby. Of the sunrise hour, when the air is still cool and light is soaking into the sky. When I think of gentleness, I think of the touch of the person you love, and kind words on a busy day; of a good cup of coffee under a warm blanket in December.
Yesterday, the pastor at our church talked about the story of Jesus, Mary, and Martha. Of how Jesus rebuked Martha for her misplaced priorities while praising Mary for her wanting to be with Him. Mary and Martha were the sisters of Lazarus, who Jesus had previously raised from the dead. At that time, it was Martha who displayed faith while Mary didn’t. Yet there’s something remarkable about Jesus’ demeanor with both sisters.
He was gentle. He was bold and confident, but also gentle. He didn’t have to act that way, but He did anyway. When He rebuked Martha, Jesus didn’t condemn her or disrespect her in her own home. Instead, He gently told her the truth: a truth she needed to hear.
In fact, if you read all the accounts of when Jesus did miraculous things, He actually did them gently. He didn’t display phenomenal cosmic power. He didn’t call down lightning bolts, or go all Obi-Wan Kenobi by levitating dozens of boulders. He didn’t summon tens of thousands of angels into raging battle. No, Jesus was gentle, almost subdued, nearly every time He did superhuman things that seemed impossible to so many.
If you think about it, He does that same thing with you and me. We woke up today. We have our basics, or at least most of them. We have a new day and opportunities. In every other faith on this planet, people must “do” for their god. But in truth, it is God who does for His people, by sending His Son for us. And he doesn’t do it with thunderbolts and lightning (very, very frightening). Instead, He appeared as a baby in a manger, who quietly grew into a common man from a common town. The most powerful being in the universe chooses to present Himself to us with a soft touch.
Gentle. Because that’s part of who He is. Gentle as a Father with His children. Gentle as a man who lived His life in love.
For further reading: Luke 10:28-42, John 11, Galatians 5:22-23
Good, good Lord, You are gentle to us. Thank You.
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