West Side Church of Christ, Searcy, Arkansas The Spirit Filled Life of Gentleness

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West Side Church of Christ, Searcy, Arkansas

The Spirit Filled Life of Gentleness

Steve W. Reeves

A. The Fruit of the Spirit consists of nine interlocking traits. All of them are important. Though we

often study them individually we need to recognize them as an interconnected unit that exists for

the purpose of helping us to be like Jesus.

1. Each of these nine qualities are characteristics of Jesus.

2. The characteristic of gentleness is often associated with Jesus and yet it may be the most

misunderstood trait of His character.

a. Mt. 11:29 - “I am gentle and humble in heart.”

b. Mt. 21:5 - ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal

of a donkey.’”

c. 2 Cor. 10:1 – “By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you.”

B. The admonition for gentleness is found in both the Old and New Testaments.

1. Old Testament usage:

a. Num. 12:3 –Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face

of the earth. The word, “humble” is translated “meek” in KJV. The Amplified Bible says, “gentle,

kind and humble.”

b. Ps. 25:9 – He guides the humble in what is right

and teaches them his way.

c. Psalm 37:11 – But the meek will inherit the land

and enjoy peace and prosperity.

d. Psalm 147:6 - The Lord sustains the humble

but casts the wicked to the ground.

2. New Testament usage beginning with the teaching of Jesus and extending throughout the


a. Mt. 5:5 - “Blessed are the meek (gentle) for they shall inherit the earth.

b. Eph. 4:2 – “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

c. Phil. 4:5 – “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

d. Col. 3:12 – “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with

compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

e. 1 Tim. 3:3 (qualifications for elder) – “not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not

quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”

f. Titus 3:1-2 – “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be

ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and

always to be gentle toward everyone.”

g. 1 Peter 3:4 – “Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and

quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

h. 1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer

to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with

gentleness and respect.”


A. The Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 translated, “gentleness,” is “Praotes.”

1. Used nine times in New Tesstament (as noted above).

2. From “Praos” which means, “mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.

Thayer and Smith’s Greek Lexicon on the New Testament gives this definition, “Meekness

toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and

therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God

rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice.

3. In his book, Improving Your Serve, Chuck Swindoll describes the use of this word.

a. A wild stallion that has been tamed and brought under control is described as, “gentle.”

b. Carefully chosen words that soothe strong emotions are described as “gentle” words.

c. In one of Plato’s works a child asks a physician to treat him tenderly. The word he uses is

“praos” – gentleness.

d. Ointment that takes the sting out of a wound is called, “gentle.”

e. Those who are polite, who have tact and are courteous and who treat others with dignity

and respect are called, “gentle.”

B. Gentleness is not weakness.

1. Moses was gentle. He was not weak. Leading 2.5 million people out of Egypt and through the

wilderness for 40 years is not indicative of physical or spiritual weakness.

2. We sometimes sing about “Jesus Meek and Gentle” as if he were a weakling. In Bruce

Barton’s book, The Man Nobody Knows, he describes the occasion when Jesus drove the

money changers out of the temple.

“Almost invariably the pictures show him with a halo around his head, as though that was the explanation for his triumph. The truth is so much simpler and more impressive. There was in His eyes a flaming moral purpose and greed and oppression have always shriveled before such fire. But with the majesty of His glance there was somethings else which counted powerfully in His favor. As His arm rose and fell striking its blows with that liggle whip, the sleeve dropped back to reveal muscles hard as iron. No one who watched Him in action had any doubt that He was fully capable of taking care of Himself. The evidence is clear that no angry priest or money changer cared to try conclusions with that arm.” (Bruce Barton, The Man Nobody Knows, Bobbs-Merrill Company, New York, 1925, 1977, p. 35).
3 Jesus is the personification of gentleness.

a. We see the physical strength and courage that could chase the moneychangers out of

the temple coupled with the tenderness of sitting small children in his lap.

b. We see the boldness of rebuking the Pharisees coupled with the humility of washing the

disciples’ feet.

c. In Lk. 9:53-54 Jesus and his disciples are headed through Samaria to Jerusalem. They

send messengers ahead of them into a village but receive word back that the people of

the village do not want them. James and John, sons of thunder, say, “Lord, do you want

us to call down fire from heaven?” Jesus certainly had the power to do that. He had

exhibited power over nature during the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Instead, He

demonstrated restraint. “Let us go to the next village.” That is “Prautes” – power under


C. When I began preaching in West Helena, Arkansas, almost thirty years ago, we had a deacon

in our congregation who was a body-builder. He was tall, broad shouldered and was in

excellent shape. He participated in arm wrestling contests and won! His hands were so large

they would surround mine whenever we would meet. He and his wife taught a children’s class

of 4 and 5 year olds. He taught in the Bible Hour and helped with the puppets. In that huge,

powerful body was a gentle, tender spirit. That’s “Prautes.”


A. Gentleness is demonstrated by the way we treat people who are needy.

1. In Romans 12:16 Paul writes, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be

willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

2. Many years ago in Nashville, Tennesse, there lived a man named A.M. Burton. Brother Burton

was a member of the same congregation where my grandmother worked in a day school – the

Central Church of Christ in Nashville. He was the founder and president of Life and Casualty

Insurance of Tennessee. For many years the L and C tower was the tallest building in the

Nashville skyline. Romans 12:16 was brother Burton’s favorite verse. He had been raised on a

farm east of Nashville and had little formal education. Though he became a wealthy man he

never forgot where he had come from and the need to be filled with gentleness and


B. Gentleness can be seen in the way we respond to those who are unkind to us.

1. When people are rude to us or say something hurtful it is our nature to strike back. The story is

told of a scorpion who asked a turtle if he could hop on his shell and ride across a river. The

turtle refused. “You’ll sting me and I’ll drown.” “That’s illogical,” replied the Scorpion. “I would

drown too.” The turtle agreed and halfway across the river the Scorpion stung him. As they

both went under water the turtle said, “Why did you do that? It’s illogical.” The Scorpion said, “I

couldn’t help myself. It’s my nature to sting.”

2. When people are unkind to our fleshly nature wants to retaliate. A clerk in a bookstore was

being verbally abused by a woman for not having a certain book. “What is the book?” he

asked. She replied, “How To Remain Young and Beautiful.” He said, “I’ll order it and mark it


3. The Fruit of the Spirit is indicative of a changed nature. We have been transformed by the

renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2). We have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

Instead of lashing out in anger we respond with dignity and kindness.

B. Gentleness can be seen in how we serve one another.

1. John is the only Gospel writer who records Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet. In Jn. 13:3 we

read, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come

from God and was returning to God.” Question: “What would you do if you had that type of

power?” Jesus had been given all authority and all power.

2. He got up, took off his outer garment and wrapped a towel around his waist. He poured water

in a basin and began washing the feet of his disciples. A rabbi serving his disciples? A teacher

serving his students? A Savior serving sinners?

a. Peter protests but then invited Jesus to wash his head, hands and feet (vs. 9),

b. What a spirit of tenderness and gentleness. In verses 13-14 he says, “You call me ‘Teacher’

and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have

washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.

3. We must treat one another with the same gentleness Jesus used in washing the feet of the

Discples. We have no idea what is going on in another person’s life. We are quick to rush to

judgment when we see something we don’t like. We sometimes exacerbate a painful situation

because we have not allowed God’s Spirit to transform us and give us gentleness.


A. William Barclay makes a final observation about gentleness.

It is when we have prautes that we treat all men with perfect courtesy, that we can rebuke without rancor, that we can argue without intolerance, that we can face the truth without resentment, that we can be angry and yet sin not, that we can be gentle and yet not weak. Prautes is the virtue in which our relationships both with ourselves and our fellowmen become perfect and complete. (Wm. Barclay, Flesh and Spirit, Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1962, p.121).
B. Last Sunday morning I mentioned the Inaugural address of George H.W. Bush in 1989 where he

challenged our country to become a “kinder and gentler” nation. My question this evening is, “are

we allowing the Holy Spirit to change us into a kinder and gentler person each day? As we stand to

sing we make ourselves available to pray with you or assist you with any spiritual need.

1. How is the characteristic of “gentleness” misunderstood?
2. What Old Testament leader is described as being “more humble than anyone else on the face of

the earth?”

3. What instances from Jesus’ life demonstrate his spirit of gentleness?
4. How will gentleness be observed in our speech?
5. How did Jesus washing the disciples’ feet illustrate a spirit of gentleness?

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