But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Gentleness is the next part of the fruit that is for our consideration. This word is also translated as goodness and kindness in the NT.
…. in pureness, in knowledge, in long suffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned,
…that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus:
Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering;
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
(for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfil every desire of goodness and every work of faith, with power;
There can be no doubt that kindness/gentleness is a characteristic of Jesus that all, whether believer or not, recognise. Whilst Jesus is all holy and righteous, and has a perfect hatred of sin, He is kind and gentle. This word can be seen as opposite to being harsh and short in temper. This means that even under the most grievous provocation one remains calm and gentle with people. No one cannot argue with the fact that we, as humans, have provoked God by our sin, yet in His love and kindness He never lost His temper and destroyed us. Instead He went out of His way to reach us in our need.
For we also once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man, appeared, not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
C6.2 His care
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up on a high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God! Behold, the Lord Jehovah will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him: Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young.
In one one of the OT prophecies concerning Christ, we read that He will feed like a shepherd, and gently lead those that have their young. The idea of feeding in this context is more than just providing food, rather it means the total care that a shepherd gives to his flock. This would include making provision for pasture, also protection from danger, tending to all their needs; and, as Jesus mentioned in Lk.15:3-7, when seeing those that go astray, to go after them and to bring them back safely to the fold.
Gathering the lambs shows the care of the Shepherd for the weakest and feeblest of the flock. The picture is of a young tender lamb, who can not keep up with the rest of the flock. So even when weary the shepherd would pick it up and carry it.
An example of a shepherd’s care can be found in the story of Jacob and Esau.
And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and that the flocks and herds with me have their young: and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on gently, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
Without going into the details of the story, we note that on the suggestion of taking their journey, it was stated that there was a request to lead gently so that the flocks would not be overdriven. Instead they would be led according to the pace of the children. In other words there would be no expectation of the flocks of going beyond what they can manage. Or in NT terms, not beyond their measure.
Let us summarise this by relating it to our theme. Jesus the Good Shepherd makes provision for His flock, He takes care for the feeble and doesn’t overdrive anyone. This is the gentleness of the Saviour. This is not to give anyone an excuse for not going on when the Lord calls, but rather it shows to us that He knows our measure and treats us accordingly.
C6.3 The two Simons
We shall look at two incidences in the Gospel of Luke that illustrate the gentleness of Jesus. One is that of Simon Peter and his recognition of what he is himself; the other of Simon the Pharisee who is critical and shows great discourtesy. On both occasions Jesus shows gentleness when He deals with these two men.
C6.3a The fisherman
Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and he saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the multitudes out of the boat. And when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answered and said, Master, we toiled all night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets. And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their nets were breaking; and they beckoned unto their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was amazed, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken; and so were also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their boats to land, they left all, and followed him.
In Luke’s Gospel we read that Simon encountered Jesus before the incident recorded above. ( cf. Lk. 4:38-39) and John’s account would imply an even earlier meeting with Jesus ( cf. Jn.1:40-41). So Simon knew Jesus prior to this incident, and indeed was told by his brother Andrew that Jesus was the Messiah. So already in Simon’s life there was a work of God going on drawing this man to Jesus.
After speaking to the crowd from a boat on the lake, not far off land, Jesus tells Peter, a fisherman of much experience, to cast the net down. Although this seasoned professional had been up all night with no success he obeyed, and the results were phenomenal. The boat almost sank!
Then Peter fell before Jesus begging him to depart, for he saw himself as he was: a sinful man. Anyone who encounters Jesus will, at some stage, come to a realisation of themselves. Jesus never told Peter that he was sinner. In fact it is a discovery, worthy of note, that it is never recorded in the Gospel accounts that Jesus ever called anyone a sinner. His life, manner and living was sufficient to bring people to an understanding of their own condition.
Instead Jesus encouraged Peter, by saying that he would be a fisherman of people. Jesus didn’t overdrive Simon beyond his measure. What would have happened if Jesus acted as some believers do, namely keep on at him about his sin, who knows? But Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus is gentle He does not lambast people about their sin. This is not to play down the seriousness of sin, nor the severity of God’s judgement on it. Rather when dealing with people, who are in the grip of sin and realise it, they need to be dealt with in a Christ-like way if they are to be freed. It is also to be noted that even when He did severely reprimand the religious hypocrites of the day, it was only then with a broken heart (cf Mtt.Ch. 23).
Maybe we can learn from Jesus when dealing with people. It is not our job to convince people of sin, it is that of the Holy Spirit’s. If a brother or sister in Christ has erred, or offends us let us learn to be gentle and not harsh with them. Similarly with unbelievers, who know nothing of the gospel, and do not seem to respond to the message, let us show them gentleness, and not be harsh or short tempered with them. A person under conviction does not need anyone else to go on at them, what they need is the remedy, which is in Christ alone. Let us where we can help them and not hinder by an un-Christ-like attitude.
C6.3b The Pharisee
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he entered into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And behold, a woman who was in the city, a sinner; and when she knew that he was sitting at meat in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster cruse of ointment, and standing behind at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee that had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Teacher, say on. A certain lender had two debtors: the one owed five hundred shillings, and the other fifty. When they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most? Simon answered and said, He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And turning to the woman, he said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath wetted my feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. Thou gavest me no kiss: but she, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that even forgiveth sins? And he said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
The previous incident dealt with Jesus’ response when a man comes under conviction of sin. We now turn our attention to when Jesus comes across man, who is critical in spirit and shows great discourtesy to His guests. Jesus visits the house of this Pharisee and there a woman, who was a sinner, came and showed forth her love to Jesus by anointing Him with oil.
Simon in his heart was critical of Jesus. Now he didn’t verbalise his thoughts, but just spoke it within himself. That is of little importance, since what comes out of the mouth is from the heart to begin with (Lk.6:45). At least on this occasion he didn’t speak it openly, but Jesus heard him! And then Jesus spoke to Simon by a parable. Now what we are considering is Jesus’ handling of the Pharisee.
It is a truth that when reading dialogue, unless the narrative indicates otherwise, it is not possible to say how the words were spoken: whether they were said quietly, harshly or whatever. So from just a plain reading we can not tell what tone of voice Jesus spoke with. But in keeping with what we know of Jesus let us consider what was said.
Firstly, Jesus didn’t say anything until he gained Simon’s permission, after all He was a guest in this man’s house. Jesus didn’t presume to force Himself on any. Simon showed great discourtesy, Jesus showed the very opposite.
Jesus then told a parable that made Simon think, and he judged correctly. That those who are forgiven much love much. This woman was a sinner, yes, but she had been forgiven, and consequently she loved much, as the pouring of the oil showed. Jesus didn’t return Simon’s criticism in the same way. He wasn’t harsh with him, but rather rebuked him gently so as not to crush him, and pointed out the important truths.
Now we are not told of Simon’s reaction, nor whether he eventually became a disciple, speculation is of no value. Instead consider that the Pharisee was wrong in attitude and behaviour towards Jesus, but Jesus dealt gently with him. Simon’s inhospitality and critical spirit did not provoke Jesus to deal with him other than in gentleness. Again we are challenged as whether we react similarly when placed in such situations.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
With the things we have considered, we may well ask: how do we measure up? Jesus never allowed the rudeness or wrong attitudes of others to ruffle Him, nor did it force Him to deal roughly or harshly with them. He was gentle, uncompromising in truth, but still gentle when dealing with others.
One of the saddest traits, with some believers, is that this characteristic is not manifested:. Whenever believers, or unbelievers don’t see things as they do, some lose their patience and show anything but kindness/gentleness towards them. This obviously is a result of walking in the flesh. Let us learn from Jesus and walk as He walked. do we show gentleness, make provision for those we have care for, care for the feeble, not over driving people; and to those who show us rudeness and criticism do we show forth the fruit of the Sprit to to those too?