While writing on various aspects of the fruit of The Spirit, I hit a speed bump with this particular one: gentleness (meekness, humility). As from the Amplified version of Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Webster’s defines those words as follows:
Gentleness: the quality or state of being gentle; especially: mildness of manners or disposition.
Meekness: enduring injury with patience and without resentment: deficient in spirit and courage: submissive: not violent or strong.
Humility: the quality or state of being humble: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission.
Hmm, interesting. Could that really be who God intends for his followers to be?
“Deficient in spirit and courage”?
“ . . . a spirit of deference or submission”?
Is this what we, as being ‘like Christ’, are to show to the world?
Are these attributes in any way appealing to anyone to want to give their lives over and pursue?
In this day and age?
Do you equate “gentleness, meekness and humility” with “weakness, softness and frailty”?
In being humble, are we also being . . . wimpy?
In actuality, the Greek word that Paul uses here is prautes, which he also uses in his letters of instruction to Timothy:
~ But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness . . .
~ He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness, in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth. (1Tim 6:11, 2Tim 2:25).
Although translated as “meekness”, I’ve seen this word best described in the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible as: “a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has the passions under control. . . . not as an indication of weakness, but of power and strength under control. The person who possesses this quality pardons injuries, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well.”
Paul also puts forth the idea of prautes in this warning to the Galatians;
“Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.” (Gal 6:1 AMP)
“Even-tempered.” “Tranquil.” “Balanced.” “Strength under Control.” To set right, restore, reinstate . . . without any sense of superiority, and most importantly, keeping an eye on yourself so you won’t be tempted as well.
Now that’s a definition of the word “gentleness” that I can abide in.