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Can You Possess Both Gentleness and Strength? (Fruit of the Spirit Series)

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Aside from moments when my children are sick or injured, I have never before classified myself as “gentle” or “meek.” Kind and compassionate, yes. But I see gentle or meek as implying delicate and docile, and I’ve never been accused of displaying either attribute (I blame being raised with a gaggle of boys for that!)

So does that mean I’m hopeless when it comes to displaying the fruit of gentleness? Not when I dig deep into its meaning.

Gentleness Defined

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for gentleness is prautés, which also means mildness. Surprisingly, taken further, variations of prautés lead us to meekness, gentle strength, or gentle power (HELPS Word-studies).

In his study of this fruit of the spirit, Martin G. Collins states “Although English has no direct equivalent words to prautes, ‘meekness’ comes closest. The drawback to this is that in modern English ; ‘meekness’ carries the stigma of weakness and cowardliness. In contrast, the meekness manifested by God and given to the saints is the fruit of power. It is enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” 

Therefore, possessing the fruit of gentleness or meekness is really about exercising power or demonstrating strength with a spirit of humility. 

As Stanley M. Horton put it, gentleness is “power under perfect control.” A far cry from delicate and docile, isn’t it?

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Moses and Gentleness

Although Jesus is the perfect and amazing example of gentleness and meekness, Moses is a wonderful imperfect biblical representation to encourage us.

Think of how often Moses (see Exodus and Numbers) patiently endured his people’s ridicule, complaints, and at times, downright hostility. Yet he continued to guide them back to righteousness.

He repeatedly pleaded for God’s mercy toward his stubborn flock. He readily admitted his failures and accepted the consequences for them. He prayed, expected, scolded, encouraged, and endured.

Although Moses was appointed by God as a leader (in fact, he was the really, really, really big enchilada!), he was fixed on what was best for others, not himself. 

When, due to his disobedience to the the Lord’s commands, he was prevented from entering the promised land, Moses could have easily become bitter and turned his back on the Israelites.

Blaming them would have been justified, wouldn’t it? After all, he wouldn’t have gotten angry if they had just listened to him.

How many times had he told them, mentored them, gently corrected them? How many times had he displayed God’s power and faithfulness to them? 

Instead, in humble obedience and love, he continued to lead the rebellious nation.

That’s exhibiting gentleness and meekness.

That’s thinking less of yourself and more about those you are called to serve. 

Gentleness is about leading from a lower rung.

Power in Humility and Love

It is not about lack of power, but about power exercised in humility and love. It isn’t about keeping the truth to oneself and remaining silent when a loved one is straying but about admitting our own weaknesses and seeking God’s wisdom in guiding others back to righteousness.

Gentleness is about getting down and dirty with fellow believers and nonbelievers as well, joining them in their misery to show them the light of hope. It is about wielding authority as one of the crowd, not setting oneself apart as more worthy.

This new way of looking at gentleness has made it my new favorite among the fruits of the spirit. 

The fruit of gentleness encompasses courage, strength, honor, respect, love, long-suffering, and much humility. It brings new meaning to being chivalrous. 

The fruit of gentleness encompasses courage, strength, honor, respect, love, long-suffering, and much humility. @JulieSunne1 Click To Tweet

I don’t have to be delicate and docile to demonstrate gentleness. I certainly can possess this fruit as a strong, bold, and determined person.

In fact, we all can. But not without faith, not without pursuing the empowerment and guidance of the Lord. 

It is not easy to live in humility. To take our eyes off self and pursue righteousness and blessings for others.

But we already know, with God everything is possible (Mark 9:23)—even wielding power in gentleness and meekness. 

Gentleness has nothing to do with being weak or a pushover; it is about leading from a lower rung. @JulieSunne1 Click To Tweet

“Now you, man of God, run from these things; but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Reflections: Did this study change your perception of gentleness? Did you before or do you now consider yourself possessing the fruit of gentleness/meekness?

Like what you read? Click on the CD image to get the free audio download of this post and the 9 other Fruit of the Spirit blog posts.

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Linking with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience in 2013 for my Joy Dare list  for Multitude Mondays (#1641–1661, read them all by clicking here):

  • Rachel finally eating crackers & half a sandwich; Hope of #Christ in a lost world; Hot water for shower after long day
  • Rachel’s “blanket wave” swallowed everyone up amid delighted squeels; Paired-up geese on lake; Fresh green poking thru
  • Reading critiques of past presentations; Printer finally printed; Diffusing frustration by laughing about the situation
  • Super time presenting in a friend’s 2 college classes; Gift of embracing the whole of my girl; We’re not in a drought
  • Scanner working finally; Enjoyed hilarious play by our high school;List of sweet things Rach’s classmates said about her
  • Successful Middle School speech contest; Sunshine to lift the dreariness; A third awesome high school play performance
  • Shooting marshmallows w/ my SS students; Rachel’s excitement at seeing her brother on stage; Celebrating Joey’s birthday

Also linking with the following wonderful sites:

TheBetterMom.com

 

 

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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

6 comments on “Can You Possess Both Gentleness and Strength? (Fruit of the Spirit Series)
  1. Rachael says:

    Definitely changed my view! I never considered myself to be one with a quiet and gentle spirit, but with your words I find hope! Our church tries to develop a culture honor and humility within our body. I am learning this balance very slowly and your post helps put some things in perspective for me, especially in my leadership roll and in working with leadership and submitting to them. Blessings to you! Love, Rachael @ Inking the heart

    • Julie Sunne says:

      Isn’t it wonderful how a simple word in the Bible can have such a deep and transforming meaning? God’s Word is indeed living and working in our lives today! Your church sounds like it’s on the right track with regard to gentleness Rachael.

  2. Cecelia Lester says:

    I strive for gentleness but I still have times when I fall short.

  3. Love these great words of wisdom and insight into gentleness. You are definitely right that gentleness isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Wonderful.

    Linked from rachelwojo.com. Blessings

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