A lot of confusion swirls around the words gentleness and meekness, especially in the male community. What does it mean to bear the fruit of gentleness?
Men, in general, don't want to be perceived as weak, as a pansy or a wimp. Yet when they become Christians, God's word tells them to bring forth the fruit of gentleness (or meekness).
Jesus, for example, modeled great strength and yet described himself as "gentle and lowly" in heart (Matthew 11:29). He manifested the fruit of gentleness and yet was known for huge inner strength and resolve.
To die in our place the death we deserved was nothing less than an incredible feat of strength.
So how can we become more like Jesus in bearing the fruit of gentleness or meekness?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
An Illustration of Meekness
Donald Gee, an English Pentecostal Bible Teacher, gave a wonderful illustration of meekness. A guide took a group of visitors through a factory. He showed them a giant steam hammer powerful enough to crush an automobile.
Then the guide placed a walnut under the machine and had the hammer crack the shell without damaging the meat of the nut. What an illustration of gentleness as power under perfect control!
The Horse Illustration
A horse is a powerful animal, but until that power is harnessed and trained, the horse is not useful.
The photo above is unusual because of the pose this horse has taken. That is not something a horse does naturally, but its trainer had to teach him to do that.
In other words, this horse is "meek." It is submitted to the will of its trainer.
So the question is, if you belong to God, what is he training you to do?
Meekness Is Better Than Mildness
You see, the fruit of gentleness or meekness refers to strength that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. God is not saying be compliantly mild in every situation.
Jesus called himself gentle (meek) and lowly in heart, but one day he made a whip out of ropes and drove the money changers out of the temple. (Just to be clear, the Bible doesn’t say he struck anyone. He just acted like he might.)
At times, there is a difference between gentleness and mildness. A person who is mild may not always bear the fruit of gentleness or meekness.
The difference is simple. A meek person is surrendered to God, but a mild person is not always surrendered to God.
For example, if the Holy Spirit impressed you to take a stand and speak up but you compliantly went with the flow, you were mild but not meek. You were not fully surrendered to God’s will because you did not do what he directed you to do.
Jesus was gentle or meek because he acted under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Meekness does not mean weakness, but godly strength under control.
A Biblical Study on the Fruit of Gentleness
The Greek word prautes means gentleness or meekness. It is translated four times as gentleness, five times as meekness, and two times as humility in the New King James Version. (The original King James Version translated prautes as meekness in Galatians 5:23.)
Jesus described gentleness or meekness as a state of blessedness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5, Psalm 37:11) God’s blessings come to those who wait on Him. (Psalm 37:7-11)
Laying Down One's Ego
The fruit of gentleness (or meekness) in the biblical sense describes those who submit their wills to the will of God, cheerfully making themselves His servants. Such submission is not possible apart from new birth and the Holy Spirit. The meek lay down their egos and personal agendas to bring glory to God.
Meekness is sometimes perceived as weakness when God or his word requires us to restrain ourselves. But it is controlled strength. Those submitted to God and his word are strengthened with the strength of God.
Joel 3:10 is normally translated, “Let the weak say, “I am strong.’ ” But the verse might well be translated, “Let the meek say, ‘I am strong.’ ” Those submitted to God are strong in His power.
The word gentleness or meekness in the Greek language is applied to the taming of wild animals and calming those that are irritated or excited. It refers to persons that are mild, friendly, gentle, and pleasant, as opposed to those who are rough, hard, and violent. (TDNT) At least one Greek philosopher commended those who combine strength with gentleness.
Good Descriptions of the Fruit of Gentleness (or Meekness)
- “One who feels that he is a servant in relation to God and who subjects himself to Him quietly and without resistance.” (TDNT)
- “It means a religious quality involving radical submission to God and modesty in dealings with other people.” (TLNT)
- “… a heart disposition and comportment [behavior] characterized by restraint and modesty. It is the distinctive mark of souls that belong to God and “fear” him, who have a sense of his transcendence and of their own poverty.” (TLNT)
- “Meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest.” (Vine, Unger, & White)
The Opposite of Gentleness or Meekness
Often overlooked as a virtue, we appreciate meekness more when we consider that its opposite is harshness, roughness, bad temper, sudden anger, and being short, abrupt, and blunt to the point of ungraciousness. (TDNT)
Examples of the Fruit of Gentleness or Meekness
- Moses was considered the humblest (or meekest) of men. He was not weak but mighty in God.
- Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)
- Jesus described himself as “meek and lowly in heart.” He had surrendered his will to do the will of the Father who sent him. (John 4:34, 6:38) He was meek but not weak; He had the infinite resources of heaven available to him.
- Matthew 11:28–30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
- Zechariah 9:9 (Matthew 21:5) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly [meek] and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
- Psalm 45:4 And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility [meekness], and righteousness; and Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
Gentleness or Meekness is…
- The quality with which Paul and Peter ministered, instructed, corrected, and defended the faith. 1 Corinthians 4:21, 2 Corinthians 10:1, Galatians 6:1, 2 Timothy 2:25, 1 Peter 3:16
- The attitude with which we are to receive the implanted Word of God. James 1:21
- The mindset we are to have in the church and toward all. Ephesians 4:2, Titus 3:2
- A character virtue we are to put on along with tender mercies, kindness, humility, longsuffering, forgiveness, and love. Colossians 3:12
- A quality that comes with having wisdom. James 3:13
- The incorruptible beauty of a gentle (meek) and quiet spirit, 1 Peter 3:4
5 Steps to Achieving the Fruit of Gentleness (or Meekness) that Leads to Blessedness
- Crucify ego, self-will, and pride. Galatians 2:20
- Yield, surrender, and submit your will to the will of God. Luke 22:42, John 4:34, 7:16-17
- Be subject to and obey God’s word. Matthew 7:24-25, 21:28-32,
- Wait patiently on God’s timing to inherit His blessings. Psalm 37: 7-1
- Gentleness includes true humility that does not consider itself too good or too exalted for humble tasks.
How would you define your struggle? Are you too mild? Or are you too aggressive? And what steps are you going to take to bear the fruit of gentleness or meekness? Please take a moment and let us know in the Comment section below.