January 17, 2016

Who Is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Have to Do with Fruit (Part 8)

As Christians, we're supposed to be filled with the Spirit of God. But what, exactly, does that look like? Well, for one thing, it looks like gentleness.

What in the Word: Galatians 5:22-25

Hang-Onto-It Verse: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patiencekindnessgoodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23a)

Welcome to the penultimate post in our Fruit of the Spirit series! As we finish out this series on the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, I've been sharing the wisdom and inspiration of other writers. Now I'm honored and delighted to introduce you to Karen Del Tatto of Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge. I "found" Karen via the blog hop circuit, and it was one of the happiest things to happen to me last year. I know Karen's gift with words and the wisdom behind them will be sweet for your soul today.

Matthew 5:5

I've always admired people who are gentle in their speech, manner and actions. Sweet, soft voices that seem to woo hearers into a peaceful state...attitudes which see good in every person and situation...calmness when circumstances warrant otherwise...

I've been blessed with two people like that in my life: my grandma and a dear sister-in-Christ, Raquel.

My grandmother left such a beautiful legacy. I never once heard her saying anything bad about anyone. She never complained. In fact, when you asked her how she was doing, she would always say, "Oh, I can't complain." Grandma was always happy. I can still hear her sweet voice in my "mind's-ear" saying, "Hi Dear" as I walked in the door. A sweet, gentle spirit...

My friend Raquel taught me much about being a gentle parent. Her children were already well-behaved, but if a situation arose where she needed to intervene, Raquel never raised her sweet sounding voice, but would stay calm as she spoke, her gentleness diffusing the situation, bringing calmness to her children.

I wish I could say both of these gentle spirits shaped me into a gentle phenom, but sadly this is not the case. I don't have a sweet, gentle voice. In fact, it seems physically impossible for me to lower my voice to a whisper. (LOL!) I can be assertive in certain situations, and I tend to complain and be critical. Nothing gentle about any of these things.

I don't know if it seems like it to you, but to me anyway, I feel like people who are gentle are just born with naturally sweet voices and dispositions.

But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are all called and capable of being gentle. For we are born of the Spirit, and He has planted the fruit of gentleness deep within us. 

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines gentle as:
  • having or showing a kind and quiet nature : not harsh or violent
  • not hard or forceful
  • not strong or harsh in effect or quality
Similarly, a synonym of gentle, meek is defined as: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.

Having a few months lead time to prepare this post, I prayed and pondered about what I might share on the fruit of gentleness. The Lord responded by graciously providing many insights over these weeks and months. But there was one overarching theme that became very evident to me: we have the Perfect example of gentleness to emulate--the Lamb of God.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

Through this verse, the Lord showed me that gentleness is an antidote for fear.   

A majority of the time, when we find ourselves being harsh and controlling, (the opposite of gentle and humble), we are acting out from fear. In our striving, we are trying to force our wills on the situation, rather than having an attitude of gentleness and humility, which trusts God for the outcome of the situation, bringing rest to our souls.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:1-15)
Through this, the Lord showed me that our gentleness brings glory to God.

When I'm in a state of rushing, I tend to bang around, loudly complaining that I am late. If I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I look very harsh. It isn't pretty and there is nothing gentle about my demeanor...a very poor testimony.

It seems that inevitably, when we rush, we actually create obstacles that delay us even more, like spilled coffee from moving too quickly and not paying attention, or finally leaving, driving up the road a few minutes, and then realizing we need to go back to get something we've forgotten.

Rushing also exhibits itself through an attitude of impatience. When we are impatiently waiting for something to happen, such as waiting for an answer to prayer, a change in a loved one's detrimental behavior, results of medical tests, word about a job, approval of a mortgage, and the list goes on and on, we tend to fret and feel anxious. My impatience manifests itself through increased activity in an attempt to distract myself. I may become angry that something is not happening fast enough. Instead of calmness and gentleness, I display tenseness and irritability, many times lashing out at others. 

Jesus never rushed anywhere. He was always calm and gentle in His actions, even when those around him were hoping He would rush to help, as in the example of Lazarus, where Jesus chose to wait so that God would be glorified, and the disciples would believe.

God's Kingdom clock ticks differently then our own. He ordains our steps each day. When we view all of life's circumstances through the eyes of God's purposes, even those that seem annoying to us or that we have been waiting on God for, we must trust God's lessons and His perfect timing.

Be still {calm, gentle} before the Lord and wait patiently for him... (Psalm 37:7)

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love...(Ephesians 4:2)

Going through the day to day activities of life in a gentle manner, taking our time and being purposeful in all that we do, trusting God for the outcome, will not only do wonders for our well-being, but most importantly will bring Glory to God by our witness to others.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23)

He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.  A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. (Isaiah 42:2-3)

Through these verses the Lord showed me that a gentle spirit gives grace at all times.

Unfortunately, I'm sure we've all experienced those people that like to "push our buttons" to the point that we respond harshly. We tell ourselves that we aren't going to let this person get to us, but then it happens, we explode...

There are also the little irritations in life that seem to "push our buttons." We show frustration to our husband who hasn't done something we've asked him to do; or speak angrily to a child who is throwing a tantrum.

O, that when our "buttons are pushed" we would pour out gentle grace instead of frustration and anger.

Jesus was the epitome of gentleness, even at the hands of His tormentors, never responding harshly, always extending grace. The culmination of this great grace flowed down from the cross: Jesus' blood, washing away the sins of the world, extending God's love and mercy to all who would believe.

After seeing the examples of Jesus' gentle ways, you might be thinking the same thing I am...

How can I possibly attain to the level of gentleness that Jesus exhibited? He was the perfect, spotless Lamb of God who knew no sin. I am a sinner with a bent to sin and self!

By abiding in Jesus.

Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. The only way a branch is able to produce fruit is by staying connected to the vine, the lifeblood, that courses through, nourishing the branch.

How do we abide?

Through prayer and time in the Word, growing us spiritually.

 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, 
full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)  

Through being part of a church body, and having fellowship with other believers, encouraging practical application.

I can definitely say that all of the positive spiritual changes in my own life, on a practical level, can be directly traced back to the encouragement and example of fellow believers who I had consistently spent time with or from teachers whose lessons I sat under often.

If the fruit of gentleness is something that you could produce a bigger bushel of {like myself}, find a gentle friend and learn from her and her ways; then be intentional to exercise the muscle of gentleness, and it will grow and become defined and evident, testifying to those around you, bringing glory to God.

May God strengthen us to...

... pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.(1 Timothy 6:11)

...let {our} gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5)

"When your words came, I ate them; 
they were my joy and my heart's delight." (Jeremiah 15:16)

(Looking for Part 7 of this series? Find it here.)


  1. What a wonderful post! Oh, to be gentle like Jesus! I just love Him so much, and I feel like I fail Him so miserably. So often, I am in too big of a rush, as you said, but He is teaching me to slow down, through the trials in our lives right now. Thank you so much for sharing what the dear Lord laid upon your heart, Karen. God bless you, and God bless you, Elizabeth, for providing the platform for the truth of God's Word to be shared here! So happy to "meet" you!

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! I just had the pleasure of visiting your blog--and getting to know dear Karen there in a new and better way. And yes: if rushing isn't the death of gentleness in me, I don't know what is. Well, okay, plenty of other things are, too, but rushing must be king. Which means I'd better end this comment and get on with my morning so I do not have to RUSH to Bible study in a few hours! ;) Thank you so much for stopping by, Cheryl...so glad to "meet" you, too!

    2. Cheryl, You are very welcome. I consider you one of my gentle blogger friends. Your gentle love, compassion and tenderness towards God's people is truly inspiring and Glorifying to God.

      Indeed, I was so thankful to Elizabeth for inviting me on this journey to learn about gentleness, and the wonderful opportunity to share with others. Elizabeth has such a big heart and vivacious personality for the Lord that is contagious!


  2. Hello Elizabeth -- Happy to "find" you at #RaRaLinkup today. This post is so timely as I find myself wanting to be more gentle, softer. As a city girl born and bred, now transplanted into the country and married to an introvert (I am an extro) your words are a GREAT encouragement!! Bookmarking!! Thanks and blessings and hugs!!

    1. Awww, thank you, Sheila! Your kind words are sweet to my soul! I was just thinking of this post this morning and was trying to do my guest blogger, Karen, justice by NOT rushing so much that I became, er, UNgentle. ;) Thank you so much for taking time to stop by...may all the "varieties" of the fruit of the Spirit be yours today!

    2. Thank you Sheila. Your point about the country is so interesting. Being a born and bred Jersey girl who years later visited the South and admired their gentile ways, I would indeed say that country living fosters gentleness. May God grant us all gentle spirits, to be who He made us to be, but with Christ's gentleness shining through. :-)

      Elizabeth, the day this post went live, I was in a situation of rushing and I thought to myself, "Really??" lol. Needless to say, I caught myself much sooner than I would have prior to the writing of this post, and preached it to myself again.

      Gentle blessings to you both.

  3. My favorite friends are gentle. I'm encouraged by the truth that, by the Spirit, we can be "clothed" in gentleness (along with compassion, kindness, humility and patience - a few other things that are in short supply around here).

    1. Hahaha, Michele...love your "short supply" comment. I've got that same shortfall in my house, too. Mostly, short in ME! I'm so thankful being filled with gentleness, et al, isn't my job, but rather the Holy Spirit's. Come, Holy Spirit, I need You!!! Thank you for taking time to stop by!

    2. Amen Michele! May we all be that gentle friend. :-)

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I'd love to hear from you. What do you think? What's on your mind? Did you learn anything from this study that you didn't know to begin with? Did it make any sense? Tell me...I really want to know.