When I think back on the other seven fruits of the Spirit, gentleness includes love, patience, kindness, and goodness. Gentleness, however, has a special significance not given to the other fruits. The Greek meaning is along the line of “sweet reasonableness.” I Peter 3:4 in the NASV says it is an “imperishable quality…which is precious in the sight of God.” A synonym for gentleness is forebearance, and Philippians 4:5 tells us to “let our forebearing spirit be known to all.” This can be done in several ways. One way is through conversations. When there might be a difficult person to talk to, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”(Proverbs 15:1). Our actions and words should be “with all humility, and gentleness, with patience, showing forebearance to one another in love”(Ephesians 4:2).
At times it may be necessary to help restore another who has fallen into a sinful practice. Galatians 6:1 is a reminder to “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” So, gentleness is not being judgmental. Another way to exhibit gentleness is recorded in II Timothy 2:25-26. It reads, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition…” There are plenty of people in our culture who need correction from false teaching, or oppose our Christian values and beliefs. Why is gentleness necessary? The rest of the above passage says, “if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” Our culture desperately needs a lot of gentle Christians, myself included.
A “gentle and quiet spirit” is, at times, necessary in marriage (I Peter 3:4), in regard to a spouse who (as the NASV states) is “disobedient to the Word.” I am sure there could be several applications of this verse in marriage, except in the case of domestic violence or abuse.
There is an interesting passage in James 3:13-17. “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom…the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits…” One’s attitudes and deeds need to be shown with gentleness and spiritual wisdom.
Jesus teaches about the fruits in Matthew 7:16-20. He says twice that “You will know them by their fruits.” The question is, how does fruit grow in the life of a Christian? Psalm 1:2-3 gives the answer. “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season.” The fruits of the Spirit will, over time, permeate one’s character and personality and weed out the deeds of the flesh.