Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gentleness - A Fruit of the Spirit

Gentleness – Just How Gentle

Read: Galatians 5:22-23
Trans: Gentleness is the remaining Fruit of the Spirit
  1. This is the last sermon in this series
  2. I want to spend a minute reviewing the concepts that we have mentioned during the last few weeks.
  3. Any fruit - apples, oranges, what have you – come from a tree of the same type.
  4. The same is true of spiritual fruit – spiritual fruit comes because we are a part of a spiritual tree. Jesus knew it was true when he said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
  5. And any fruit tree only produces one kind of fruit. Apple trees produce apples, Orange trees produce oranges, etc. Likewise there is only one Fruit of the Spirit – but like some natural fruit, spiritual fruit has clearly identified parts or sections. We don't name the individual sections of an orange – but Paul has done that for the spiritual fruit that is produced in our lives.
  6. Finally, Paul makes a clear distinction between the Fruit of the Spirit and characteristics that come out of natural human tendancies.
  7. It is only those with the Fruit of the Spirit, those who have become part of what Jesus calls The Vine, what is the family of God, will enjoy eternal life.
  8. These principles underlie everything we have said about the Fruit of the Spirit – and they do so today as we discuss Gentleness.
Intro.: Some translations use the word meek instead of gentleness – it is the same word that Jesus used in His Sermon on the Mount, when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
  1. A Brahmin, a member of the highest class in India, had taken time to observe a Christian missionary over a number of years. One day as they sat down over a cup of tea, the Indian compared the Christian missionary to the mango tree. All its branches hang with fruit. It is then assailed with stones and clubs by passersby. How does it respond—by dropping fruit at every blow at the feet of those who assail it. At the close of the season, it stands scarred and battered, its leaves torn off, its branches broken. But the next year it bears more fruit than the previous year.

    That is what our meekness should do in the world—not try to conserve its self-esteem but bear fruit, fruit that descends low at the attack of cruel words and actions. Christian meekness cannot be exercised in isolation. It must be manifested within the framework of society, a society that hates the Lord Jesus Christ, openly or subtly, and all who stand for Him.i
  2. Whether it is meekness or gentleness – it is what the believer will see in his or her life as a result of abiding in Christ – as a result of being a part of the family of God.
T.S. Gentleness or meekness presents two very different pictures in scripture.
  1. First, Gentleness is not as soft as you may think.
    1. Remember the quote I gave from the Sermon on the Mount earlier - “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
    2. Solomon is considered the wisest person in the Old Testament – he had a couple of things to say about the power of gentleness.
    3. Solomon was the author of the Old Testament book of Proverbs.
    4. Two texts caught my attention this week:
      1. Proverb 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
      2. Proverb 25:15 – A gentle tongue can break a bone
    5. Gentleness is not about sitting down and doing nothing – it is a powerful statement about the confidence that we bring to our situations.
(Ill.) There is an old Indian proverb that says
Conquer a man who never gives by gifts;
Subdue untruthful men by truthfulness;
Vanquish an angry man by gentleness;
And overcome the evil man by goodness.ii
Gentleness is not always soft; it can be a powerful force.
  1. But gentleness is also a quiet peaceful state that can bring us close to God.
(Ill.) I discovered a hymn this week that I have never heard – maybe some of you have. Entitled As Gentle As Silence, once I saw the words, I could not get them out of my mind. In fact, as I went to bed that night, they still stayed with me:

Gentle As Silence Hymn
Oh, the love of my Lord is the essence
Of all that I love here on earth.
All the beauty I see, He has given to me,
And his giving is gentle as silence.

Every day, every hour, every moment,
Have been blessed by the strength of His love.
At the turn of each tide, He is there at my side,
And his touch is as gentle as silence.

There've been times when I've turned from his presence,
And I've walked other paths, other ways,
But I've called on his name, in the dark of my shame
And his mercy was gentle as silence.iii
    1. I was reminded of a favorite verse that I have quoted before. Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
    2. There almost seems something wrong – to have a God who has the power to start with nothing and in seven days create this world we live in. This is no whimpy God.
(Ill.) In the movie that came out last week called the Avengers is a scene where a big ugly strong alien bad guy takes on the Hulk – by claiming to be a God. The hulk whips him good – and as Hulk walks away you him mutter to himself, “Puny god”.
    1. The God we serve is no puny god – but a powerful God.
    2. A God who ask us to follow him with a gentleness that allows Him to call us with the reminder, ““For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Ill.) And I am reminded of the words written by Ralph Carmichael

A Quiet Place
There is a quiet place
Far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind

Sheltered by tree and flower
There in my quiet hour
With Him my cares are left behind

Whether a garden small
Or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find

Then from this quiet place
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind.iv
    1. There is a gentleness in God that will pervade our lives as we live our lives in the presence of God.
Conclusion: Gentleness is part of the Fruit of the Spirit
  1. It is both powerful and soothing.
  2. I don't know what you need today, but whatever it may be, I pray that may experience the Gentleness that comes from walking with Jesus.
  3. Let my conclude with five ways suggested by Jerry Bridges to express gentleness in our lives – even when we do not always live in a gentle world:
  4. Jerry Bridges suggests these five strategies for obeying the biblical injunctions about gentleness:
  1. Actively seek to make others feel at ease. Be sensitive to other’s opinions and ideas, welcoming opinion.
  2. Show respect for the personal dignity of the other person. When you need to change a wrong opinion, do so with persuasion and kindness rather than domination or intimidation.
  3. Avoid blunt speech and abrupt manner. Be sensitive to how others react to your words, considering how they may feel. When it is necessary to wound, also include encouragement.
  4. Don’t be threatened by opposition; gently instruct, asking God to dissolve the opposition.
  5. Do not belittle or degrade or gossip about a brother who has fallen—instead grieve and pray for his repentance.v
iAMG Bible Illustrations. Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2000.
iiWater, Mark. The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations. Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000.

vMorgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (339). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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