Tuesday, May 19, 2020

In GENTLENESS There Is Strength

“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23)
Photo Credit: Avery Krider
In our society, we tend to value toughness above gentleness. When our children are troubled, we are advised to offer “tough love,” we expect our government officials to be “tough on crime,” and we admire leaders who are “tough as nails.” Gentleness, sometimes translated as meekness or humility, can be rather suspect in our culture.

With our heritage of “rugged individualism” and “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,” we tend to equate such qualities as gentleness, humility, and meekness (all of which are translations of the related Greek words, praus/prautes) with being a doormat, or allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of. But when we look at the gentleness valued by God and demonstrated by Jesus, the real strength to be found in gentleness is revealed.

Jesus didn’t teach with the arrogance of the Pharisees, but he still spoke up and taught in the synagogues with an authority that his listeners readily recognized. Jesus saved the life of the woman caught in adultery, and treated her with gentleness and kindness, but he still told her to stop sinning. Jesus chastised Peter with the words “Get behind me, Satan!” but he still established him as the foundation of the church. Showing gentleness did not compromise Jesus’ authority, strength, or effectiveness.

In fact, when we look more closely at the sense in which the word gentleness is used to describe Jesus, we discover that it actually means something closer to “power under authority” or “strength under control.” Whose authority and control was he under? He was under GOD’S authority and control. And when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we have His power under His authority at our disposal to share in His work in this world.
Object Lessons
When sharing with children about the fruit of gentleness, an object lesson can be helpful. Begin by asking what an infant, a baby chick, and a porcelain plate all have in common. (You may want to show them pictures of each of these items.) The answer (at least the one relevant to THIS lesson!) is that they are all fragile and need to be handled with care. 

We, too, can be hurt when someone says something mean to us, laughs at us, or makes us feel left out. God wants us to be careful with EVERYONE, not just babies, small animals, and breakable objects! He wants our thoughts, words, and actions to be gentle, and He helps us display this quality when we allow His Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives.

Another popular object lesson related to gentleness uses water balloons to get the point across. This activity can be lots of fun now that warm temperatures are arriving! Fill several water balloons, and place them in a large container. Set another large container within throwing distance. Each person in the family tosses one water balloon as hard as they can to try to reach the second container. (Most of the balloons will probably pop and explode water in the process.) Next, each person in the family is instructed to get a second water balloon safely into the container by placing it there as gently as they can. (These balloons, if handled carefully, are unlikely to pop.)

As Ashley at The Littles and Me, writes, “Just like the balloon that we weren’t careful with, when we are harsh or careless with our words, we can really hurt other people and make them burst. But when we are gentle with our words and actions, it shows that we care about others and want to treat them in a kind and loving way.”

Coloring page
Enjoy this coloring page, in which a young child carefully holds a baby bird. Use the picture to talk about what it means to be gentle in our words and actions.
Act It Out!
On slips of paper, write out various scenarios where someone speaks to you harshly and in anger (for example, a neighbor yells at you to get off their lawn, a bully knocks over your sand castle at the beach, a classmate calls you a mean name). 

Have a family member pull out one slip of paper and read the scenario. His or her job is to respond to the situation in two ways: First, he responds in anger. Second, he responds with gentleness. 

You may want to create skits about each scenario as a whole family. You could even record them and turn them into mini-movies to watch and discuss later! 

Talk about what might happen as a result of the angry response, as compared to what might happen as a result of the gentle response. 

(Kids of Integrity is the source of this great activity!) 

If you missed the earlier posts on fruit of the spirit, you can find them here:


  1. Every time I read a fruit of the spirit post I think "Yes, this is the one to practice." And that's true. But right now, at this moment in time, I think gentleness is more necessary than ever. Gentle on ourselves and gentle with everyone everyone around us. Thank you for these posts

    1. I certainly agree that we could all benefit from a larger dose of gentleness in our interactions these days. I find it helpful to think about how the different fruit interrelate with each other--gentleness emerging from love and patience, that sort of thing. They all grow and develop in our spirits simultaneously.


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