Well, greetings once again friends. I’m Loren Fenton, and this is Episode 42 of the GoodlifeNews! Podcast and Blog.
The focus of this month’s episode is the spiritual fruit of “Gentleness,” the eighth of the nine fruits of the Spirit.
As I’ve said in the previous two posts, the nine fruits are naturally divided into three groups of three each:
- Love, Joy, Peace (The fruit of a Spiritual Heart).
- Patience, Kindness, Goodness (The fruit of Spiritual Relationships).
- Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control (The fruit of a Godly Character).
So today, let’s spend a few minutes thinking about #8, Gentleness, the second of the three fruits listed in the third triad “Godly Character.” (Just one more to go next month when we will finish this series. I’ll mention that again later at the end of this post.)
Of course, I pray that you will experience all the fruits of the Spirit in your life today—and know the power they provide to live in positive witness for Jesus in every relationship of your life!
Recently, when I saw the short video clip below I knew immediately I needed to share it with all of you to introduce this study about “gentleness.”
Take a look: (If you are reading this in an automatically generated email which does not show the clip, here’s a link to the blogpost: . You can see it here.)
This is “Kongo,” a huge silverback gorilla at the Detroit Zoo.
A few months ago–back in early May–a visitor to the zoo caught this incredible moment on video and shared it online.
Watch as Kongo gently pets the head of a groundhog he found in his enclosure.
This clip has since had over 97,000 views!
A Common Misunderstanding
The English language is very versatile in it’s capacity for conveying many, many concepts.
Sometimes, however, there just is not an adequate word to express the depth of meaning found in the original text. This happens to be the case with the biblical Greek word translated here in Galatians 5 as “gentleness.” Other English versions—including the beloved King James—often use “meekness,” or “humility” in this verse, and other places where it is used in the New Testament, including Jesus’ beatitude in Matthew 5:5 where he says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (NKJV).
When we think of “meekness” or “gentleness,” we generally have a mental picture of a somewhat weak person with a timid personality.
Caspar Milquetoast was a popular cartoon character back in the 1920s-1940s. He was the main focus of a daily newspaper feature called “The Timid Soul.” Artist/creator H. T. Webster portrayed Caspar in countless situations where the hero (if you can call him that) “speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick.” Caspar always comes out on the losing end of every situation—not because of bad luck or negative circumstances, but because he simply doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to his world. Poor guy! What a sad reality!
But, that concept is miles away from the Holy Spirit-produced character quality of gentleness!
The Greek word is “praetes” (pronounced “prah-oó-tace”).
Praetes (according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (word #4240) has a “fuller, deeper significance” than when it is found in non-scriptural writings . . . . It consists not in a person’s ‘outward behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God’” (Strong’s, #4240).
Translating that somewhat scholarly language into today’s way of speaking, this tells me that biblical “gentleness,” or “meekness” is more about our relationship with God than how we relate to our fellow humans. IOW, attitude is everything—especially (and primarily) as to how we see God.
I recently read a statement attributed to C. S. Lewis that said, “Pride is the mother hen under which all other sins are hatched.”
(In the interest of full disclosure, I am still researching the authenticity of that quote. Nevertheless, whether C. S. Lewis ever said this or not, I believe it is patently true!)
Nevertheless, it is only a small jump from our attitude toward God to how we treat/relate to our world and the people in it. Let’s be crystal-clear: in our assigned role as ambassadors for God’s eternal kingdom of agape love and grace, there is no room for arrogance, self-worship, or any form of un-grace. If we truly have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, this fruit of gentleness/meekness will be manifested and evident in all our relationships and communications. It will be seen in patience and kindness, integrity, and compassion.
The Example of Jesus
The greatest example of praetes meekness is the Master himself!
In prophetic, tragic beauty, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah pours out the following description of the coming Messiah.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.lsaiah 53:7
The Holy Spirit’s fruit of godly meekness provided the ultimate strength Jesus needed for the agony of Gethsemane, Pilate’s judgment hall, the Via Dolorosa, and Calvary. It brought him forth from the grave victorious over all temptations, sinful inclinations, and even death itself!
Consider this: Jesus could “meekly” (i.e. “calmly”) face the most foreboding future immediately before him because he had a far more powerful, overriding purpose, namely, the salvation and restoration of human beings from utter destruction due to sin and disobedience! He knew exactly why he had come from heaven to earth, and by the power of the indwelling grace—the fruit of the Holy Spirit—he could face the torture, pain, and ultimate death with complete with unfazed resolve.
The Butterfly Effect
I think it is important to note, however, that the ability of Jesus to remain true to his purpose didn’t just spring to life during those last traumatic days.
His entire life was composed of uncompromised fidelity to truth and righteousness. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “He faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NLT).
Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant” (NLT). This was a truth Jesus understood at the very core of his being, even from earliest days of his childhood. Had he indulged in even the tiniest seed tempting him to gratify any self-centered desire, he would have utterly failed when that seed demanded harvest in the moment of crisis and impending doom.
Little things count! There is no such thing as a “little white lie,” or a minor indiscretion.
A favorite author of mine, Andy Andrews, often refers to the “butterfly effect” in his popular writings.
In fact, he wrote an entire little book about it. (If you’d like more information about his book, click on the picture on the left.)
And oh, BTW, you might want to look up Episode 6 of this podcast/blog to read more about Andy’s work.
(For those of you who are listening to the audio podcast, you can go to https:goodlifenews.life, then find Episode 6 at June 7, 2021.)
In The Butterfly Effect Andy Andrews shows how even the smallest of actions or comments can create incredible results as the influence of those moments passes on from person to person, generation after generation.
The concept was first presented to the New York Academy of Science in 1963 by a theorist named Edward Lorenz. He postulated that a butterfly’s wings might cause a slight disturbance in the air as the insect flitted from flower to flower. The initial disturbance of molecules would then bump into other molecules, which would bump into other molecules, until eventually it could grow into a huge storm at some distant location.
Picture a butterfly flapping it’s wings in Hong Kong and the subsequent cascading of ripples would create a hurricane hitting New Orleans on America’s gulf coast!
Well, as far fetched and ridiculous as that may sound, after 30 years the idea was tested by various physics professors working around the world in various colleges and universities. Together they discovered that this wild theory was actually true! They even gave it a name: “The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions.”
The Power of Gentleness
So, what does all this have to do with gentleness—the focus of this episode?
Simply this: The gentle touch in all relationships is far more powerful than any heavy-handed physical force or strong words used in anger or argument.
Because of this great truth, the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in our hearts so we can most effectively represent the eternal kingdom of love and grace.
No, we must not be know as a “Caspar Milquetoast,” but also we must not have the reputation of being a “loose cannon”—unpredictable, uncontrollable, and dangerous to be around. By the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, this fruit of a gentle spirit will draw souls to God and godliness.
I pray that every one of us can live up to that ideal every day—by the power of God’s amazing grace.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next month’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the spiritual gift of Self-control.” Watch for it on September 26!
Mark your calendar! Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!
If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! And, my many thanks—in advance!