“ The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying , Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” Colossians 3:12
Gentleness – Jesus always responded with kindness and compassion, He understood that human beings are valuable and fragile, and need to be handled with care. When we yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and show kindness to others, we are doing it to our Lord. The opposite is a selfish, unkind, insensitive, and rude spirit.
Welcome to the fifth in my series on the fruit of the spirit, June has already gone by, along with Father’s Day, graduations, and weddings, and I was studying Gentleness, or Kindness.
One of my favorite words in the Old Testament is “lovingkindness” — it always evokes a warm feeling in my heart. It makes me think of God’s love, grace, mercy, favor, compassion, concern, blessings and tender care for His children.
The fruit of the spirit gentleness has that same implication —it means to show kindness, compassion, and forbearance toward another, especially someone who has perhaps not treated you in that manner. Most versions of the Bible other than the King James translate the Greek word chréstotés as “kindness”, I think both words work, so I will use both in this blog post.
First, we have the example of Christ’s kindness. The Lord has shown us such kindness and compassion, He chose to give His life for us to pay the ransom for our sins while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10), so we should extend that kindness to others. I know I find it easy to be kind and gentle to people who are kind to me, if someone is harsh towards me my first reaction is to be rude and harsh back to them. But, as Christians, Jesus calls us to a higher road:
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans so?” Matthew 5:44, 46, 47
Wow! I stand rebuked! We are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Luke 6:31)— and, don’t we all want to be treated with gentleness? Don’t we all want people to understand that we’ve had a tough day and we just want to be handled gently? And, the kindest thing we can do for someone is to share the Gospel with them. Jesus was moved with compassion when He looked upon lost, helpless people, and we should have that same attitude of compassion — NOT harsh judgementalism. Aren’t you glad someone shared the Gospel with you when you were still an enemy of God?
Second, we are to be genuine — people can spot a fake! We should be genuinely gentle, and willing to go the extra mile. Kindness will cost you something, it will take some self-sacrifice. But, because of the kindness Jesus showed to us when we were foolish enemies of God, we should gratefully make the effort to pass on that kindness to others, so He is glorified.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes [once] foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared…according to his mercy he saved us…through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Titus 3:3-6
Oh how much better this world would be if we would all just show genuine gentleness to one another! Glen Campbell sang a song back in 1970 called “Try a Little Kindness”, there was a lot of truth to that song:
“You got to try a little kindness, Yes show a little kindness, Just shine your light for everyone to see…”
Now, I don’t know what he meant by it specifically, but when we show kindness to others, it is a shining light for Jesus, as He told us in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Finally, we’re commanded to be kind. When Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25-37), the answer was basically — love God and love your neighbor! Jesus then went on to share the story of the Good Samaritan:
A Samaritan man came upon a Jewish man (his “enemy”) who had been treated harshly, he had been robbed, beaten and wounded and left to die. The Samaritan (unlike a priest and Levite who had already passed by and ignored him) stopped and had compassion on the poor man, treated him with kindness, bound up his wounds, and paid whatever it cost to return him to health and life. Wow! That sounds like what Jesus did for us! And do you know what Jesus said after that?? He said, “Go, and do thou likewise.”
I recently came upon a man who had been beaten down by this harsh world, and had become so overwhelmed by the burdens he carried that he took his own life. I felt such sorrow for him! I still do! I wonder if he could have been restored to health if someone had shown him compassion and kindness?
LORD, help me to shine your gentle light on others so that You will be glorified!
~Graced and Grateful Grammy
“Kindness dispels darkness, lifts loads, speaks peace, and inspires the downhearted.” – Phillip Keller