This past Sunday we continued our nine month study on the Fruits of the Spirit. Our focus for August is the fruit of Gentleness. This week we talked about gentleness and how it reveals itself in us and in the world.
The person who reflects gentleness is one who is non-judgmental and accepting of others and of life on life's terms. They have allowed the Spirit to grow gentleness in them such that when confronted by unpleasant or difficult circumstances, they are able to respond rather than react. We see this modeled beautifully when Jesus was brought the woman caught in adultery. Rather than reacting and getting caught up in the moment, He stoops and writes in the sand. When He responds, it is not in hostility nor judgment but rather in humility and gentleness.
To the woman's accusers He simply responds, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." In asking the accusers to look into their own lives he levels the playing field. They, like her, have fallen short of perfection. When one lives in gentleness, there is no one more holy, special, important than another- all are equal. Gentleness is seen in and through us when we let go of comparisons (judgments) and recognize that we all are equally good and equally capable doing evil. Over time the person in whom gentleness is seen accepts themselves and others as they are- beloved human children. They are able, with the Spirit's help, to treat themselves and others with grace, compassion, and gentleness because they understand spiritually we are all children.
After all her accusers leave, Jesus says to the woman, "neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." Jesus didn't stand as superior to her. Instead with humility and gentleness assured her that He did not condemn or judge her. And yet He called her to the seemingly impossible task to, "go and sin no more." We often stop the story there and don't get to the following verse in which Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The seemingly impossible has just become possible. Jesus once again has leveled the playing field. All who follow Him will never walk in darkness. All are included- even a woman caught in adultery, a liar, a thief, a prostitute, the overly religious, the average citizen, the poor, the wealthy - all of us. There is no judgment or condemnation, no need to perform or compare, because we are all in Him- in His light -even when we don't know it.
Gentleness is also seen in those who accept life on life's terms. They accept what life has to offer because they trust that whatever the results, God can and will use it for good. In acceptance they have stopped fighting against people and circumstances. Rather, they embrace what or whomever comes their way with a gentle spirit. This does not mean they are doormats or dive headlong in dangerous situations, but rather they are aware, awake and connected to God in the present moment instead of resisting it.
By Babs May-Clark