Have you wondered why one of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness? What’s so great about being gentle? It’s definitely not a trait the world would champion. The connotations of this word evoke thoughts of weakness rather than strength, but strength and power live in the heart of the fruit of the Spirit of gentleness.
As many biblical words, the problem with our understanding is language. Our English language does not have a good counterpart to the Greek word that was translated as gentleness. Here’s the definition for prautes, sometimes translated as meekness. We think of meek and gentle as timid and soft. But this meekness is toward God; that’s where it must start, and it grows into a powerful trait.
Prautes. Meekness, but not in man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow man or his mere natural disposition, but an inwrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God. It is that attitude of spirit by which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resist….prautes is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, for the right reasons…. it is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness but in power. It is a balance born in strength and character (Key Word Study Bible NIV).
Gentleness Starts with God
According to this annotated definition, we must have prautes in our relationship with God. It’s an attitude of humility and grace. There is nothing about prautes we can obtain in our own strength, in our human hearts because we are prideful. We want to do things our way. (Think of a 2 year old!)
This quality is only cultivated in us as we lean into Jesus–as we yield more to his Holy Spirit, and exchange our pride, our thoughts, our wisdom for His. Out of that humble yielding grows a powerful yet gentle strength.
Gentleness (prautes) is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender, compassionate approach toward others’ weaknesses and limitations. A gentle person still speaks truth, sometimes even painful truth, but in doing so guards his tone so the truth can be well received. Gary Thomas, Focus on the Family (addition mine. )
Why We Need Strong Gentleness
We need this strong gentleness. I hate when swift reactions spill words out of my mouth or in a text. Anybody? Can you relate to the moment when words are said you wish you could take back? Sometimes we need to be tough. As a people-pleaser and scaredy cat, I’m usually not quick to explode on people, so when I do, I consider it a “righteous anger” and feel empowered. But most of the time I find myself regretting my “righteousness”. I need the fruit of the Spirit of Gentleness that speaks with kindness and humility, power and strength all. the. time. You know, sometimes you just want to knock somebody down! That’s not prautes.
The Key to Gentleness
God does not call us to be doormats. That’s not what prautes is. But prautes starts with humility. This is the key, humility in our relationship with God and in our encounters with others.
I remember once sitting on a couch with a friend who was planning to divorce her husband. She had informed me of her intentions earlier, and all day my heart weighed heavy. I prayed and prayed and then finally, I knew I had to go back to her house and urge her to reconsider.
With tears in my eyes, I told her I didn’t think that divorce was what God wanted for her marriage. My advice didn’t change her mind, but my tears did. Years later she told me that my tears made the difference, not my words.
I was so scared that day. Scared of losing a friend, scared to tell her something I felt deep inside my soul, something not only biblical, but Spirit led. God granted me prautes that day. I didn’t go to her because I felt a righteous indignation. I sat on her couch humble and broken and led by Someone much wiser, kind, loving, and prautes than me.
Do I do this everyday? No, but it’s available to us if we yield to Him. I’m working on it.
Jesus Walked in Powerful Gentleness
Jesus showed us how to walk this planet with this gentle strength. One of my favorite books is The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey. It’s an oldie but a goody. Yancey reminisces about his childhood experience of church where he learned to associate Jesus with Kool-Aid and paintings of the Messiah gently holding a lamb.
In contrast, Yancey uncovers the power and might of Jesus, the God-man who turned over stone tables owned by money-changers in the Temple– the man who was God, the creator himself. He wrote, “The Messiah who showed up, however, wore a different kind of glory, the glory of humility . . . . The God who roared, who could order armies and empires like pawns on a chessboard, this God emerged in Palestine as a baby who could not speak or eat solid food or control his bladder, who depended on a teenager, food, and love” (p. 36). Jesus was perfect humble strength.
From his birth to his death, Jesus demonstrated a power that brought healing rather than wounds. Surely, this powerful gentleness or meekness has never again been demonstrated so powerfully as the scene of Jesus on the Cross. When you begin reading the Bible with this perspective of gentleness, you will realize the presence of prautes from the beginning to the end- from Genesis to Revelation.
30 Day Bible Reading Plan
Join me this month as we soak in 30 scriptures on gentleness. I do not think you can read these scriptures and follow the prompts and not experience some kind of change. Each verse is so powerful. If you really want to understand this fruit of the Spirit, this reading plan will do that, not because of anything I’ve written, but the power of the Scriptures and the action of focusing on this fruit for 30 days. I would promise a moneyback guarantee, but it’s free. LOL.
The Benefits of This Fruit
We need this fruit of the Spirit because it affects our relationships. With it we become better spouses, co-workers, parents, and friends. Great leaders manifest this powerful gentleness. It’s empowering, teaching, and healing. Not one bit of this gentleness is weak. Only with great humility and strength do good leaders lead just as Jesus demonstrated.
So, how do we get this good stuff? It’s simple. We pray. Scripture plays an important role, but the first thing is asking. Jesus promised the Father wants to give us good gifts, and those gifts involve His Spirit.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”Luke 11:13 NIV
A Prayer for Gentleness
Hold my hands. I’m going to pray us up. Let’s ask.
“Father, You are so good to us. We humbly come to you knowing how badly we need your filling. Pour us out and fill us with your goodness, your Holy Spirit. We want to be more like Jesus, to walk in gentle strength, prautes. To be humble yet strong–grant us this quiet strength. Thank you. We receive and believe in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Just the Scriptures
Here’s a printable with just a list of scriptures available to print.