The Fruit of Gentleness
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 ESV
“Gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon a little child” – this well-known children’s hymn, sometimes used as a prayer, seems very fitting during the Advent season because as we approach Christmas, the model of gentleness takes centre stage. Jesus’ humble birth in a manger amidst the busy town of Bethlehem exemplifies the gentle nature of our God. Here our Lord is born in the humblest of places – an animal shelter no less – who would suspect?
Throughout his life, Jesus demonstrated gentleness, not as a sign of weakness, but of strength in control. During his earthly ministry, our Lord’s gentle spirit was shown as he welcomed the weary and burdened, offering them peace and forgiveness. The Advent season once again shows us that gentleness is not restricted by our circumstances, just as the baby Jesus was born in humble surroundings, gentleness can thrive even during adversity. The Holy Spirit enables us to increase in gentleness as we interact with others, reflecting Christ’s own gentleness despite the challenges that we all face from time to time.
Drawing closer to Christmas, the warmth of gentleness is all around us as we meditate on the manger scene. The tender moment of Mary cradling the newborn Jesus, and the shepherds approaching the manger, give a sense of awe and wonder. These images, and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, remind us to approach God with childlike faith and to extend that gentleness to one another. Gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who guides our hearts to become more attuned to the needs of others, and our actions are marked by compassion and patience.
In this sinful world driven by wealth, popularity, and selfish desires, embracing the gift of gentleness becomes a countercultural act. It enables us to take a step back and approach others with empathy, to listen before we speak, and to respond with grace. Through gentleness, we mirror the heart of the Christmas account – God’s incredible love manifested in the form of a gentle Saviour.
Loving Jesus, gentle Lamb,
In Thy gracious hands I am.
Make me, Saviour, what thou art;
Live thyself within my heart.
(Charles Wesley 1707–1788)