As we look at the Fruit of the Spirit this month, some of the character traits listed are similar, but yet distinct. Yesterday, we looked at kindness. Today’s verse is about gentleness. Kindness and gentleness may seem very similar at first.
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.Philippians 4:5
In the dictionary definition of gentleness is kind, tender and mild-mannered.
By definition, gentleness is very similar to kindness. Then I looked in the footnotes of my Bible and it stated gentleness comes from a Greek word that means generous of spirit that rises above offenses, a forbearing spirit (like Jesus), not focused on our own rights. This person will learn the secret of joy (Reformation Study Bible, NKJV edition).
Gentleness is a letting go of the “rights” we feel entitled to and focusing on others. Gentleness is generous to others especially forgiving and not claiming our rights above others.
Gentleness is especially forgiving of the offenses others do to us. For many of us, it’s hard to let go of the mistakes and offenses of others. Through our own strength it might not be possible to forgive, but it is possible through the power of Holy Spirit living in us.
The second part of this verse says the day of the Lord is at hand. This could be a reference to the future coming of Christ or Christ’s ongoing presence with us.
If it points to the future coming of Christ, showing gentleness to others would be a excellent testimony of the work of Christ in your life. It would equally be referencing the current state that Christ is with us through the Holy Spirit and we can use his presence to show gentleness to others.
Kindness and gentleness are similar, but distinct. Kindness seems more about actions we take and show others like being generous and doing good. Gentleness is more of a personal characteristic that will be evident in how you deal with others such as soft answers and quick to forgive.
We go through our days let us look for ways to show kindness and gentleness to others Jesus did for us.