The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)
When I went to the dictionary, I found that gentleness indicated mildness of manners or disposition. No surprise there. It also is the quality or state of being gentle. So we really need to look at gentle to see the full definition.
There we find:
Full Definition of GENTLE
1 a : belonging to a family of high social station
b archaic : chivalrous
c : honorable, distinguished; specifically : of or relating to a gentleman
d : kind, amiable —used especially in address as a complimentary epithet <gentle reader>
e : suited to a person of high social station
2 a : tractable, docile
b : free from harshness, sternness, or violence
3 : soft, delicate
4 : moderate
That first one is a bit of a surprise – belonging to a family of high social station – is not what I think of first when I hear the word “gentle.” But think about it.
As Christians, we belong to a family of high social station. Our Father is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (I Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16)
There is a word for it – nobless oblige. That concept has its root in scripture.
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: (Luke 12:48)
All of the other definitions of gentle arise from the roots of noble birth and noblesse oblige.
As children of the King, we are expected to behave with graciousness and kindness and gentleness toward others. It is as if we were responsible for their well-being. Why does that sound familiar? Oh, wait. That’s the definition of love.
unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others
Our behavior must reflect God’s fatherly concern for others, always seeing them through God’s eyes of love.
Help me to see others as you see them, as your children, your creation. Grant that I may always reflect your love by speaking your truth without arrogance or harshness. Give me the strength and fidelity to remain true to your standards.
In Jesus’ most precious name.