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
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,
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.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION 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
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?