“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4:1-2
When we see gentleness in the lives of our brothers and sisters, it’s wonderful as it shows forth the work of the Holy Spirit in His people that is contrary to our flesh, contrary to the world, contrary to the devil and what he desires to have manifest in the lives of men. What is Satan’s desire? That pride, irritability, unbridled anger, and resentment would be alive and well. His desire is that it would rage and leave relational carnage in its wake.
Yet, as Christ followers, we must strike at such roots when they rise in our hearts, confess and repent of such sin, and resist temptation to return and indulge in those slop troughs daily. We must walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called. Gentleness must be among the spiritual fruit on the limbs of our trees. How does the Spirit bring this about in us? Paul teaches us that gentle fruit is connected to “lowliness” or humility. Humility is opposed to pride. It serves as fertile ground for gentleness. The fruit of gentleness strengthens relationships and builds unity in the church. It isn’t a self-centered relational destroyer. In Scripture gentleness is akin to meekness. We’re taught that gentleness and meekness are attributes of our Savior (2 Corinthians 10:1). Therefore, as God conforms us more and more to the image of Christ, this fruit must be among the many on display and in practice.
Further, gentleness is more than a person having a soft touch, or careful, conscientious, and kind demeanor or actions. By God’s grace, gentle men or women are unwilling to provoke others and aren’t easily provoked by others. They are inclined to bear with one another, thus preserving unity that would otherwise be broken. Paul explains in verse 2b that as we are humble and gentle, we also must be patient, forbearing with, and forgiving one another in love. This too is a vital part of our worthy walking together.
As you consider your heart and life, do you find yourself to be provoker or a preserver? Do you find more of the fruit fed by pride or humility on your tree? Has self-centered pride taken you down a road speckled with relational damage? Are you finding it hard getting out of that hole and on to the road of reconciliation? Has it, or anger, bitterness, or resentment sought to weaken and destroy peace and unity between you and brothers and sisters in the church? Is gentleness evident in your life, or is it scarce to be found? Are forgiveness and reconciliation in your focus? These are all important questions to answer. Maybe this has been a long time struggle, maybe something more recent. Either way, it’s a matter that must be worked through in a biblical, godly manner.
My prayer is that God will bring conviction, confession, and repentance where needed in all of our hearts. My prayer is also that He will help us deal with sin in our lives, and will cause the fruit of gentleness to abound for His glory. By God’s grace, may we be those who truly and actively bear with one another. May we be those who seek to build each other up, desiring the best in one another. May we be those who don’t provoke one another, but are focused on promoting and preserving peace.