The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. –Galatians 5:22
We have been looking at the Fruit of the Spirit in our Daily Inspiration online, and we come to those final two fruit: gentleness and self-control. These go hand in hand. Gentleness (also translated as “meekness”) is a rare quality these days. It means a tender heart. It means being humble – treating others with kindness, patience, compassion. The opposites of gentleness are anger and aggression (whether in person or online!) Jesus gave us the perfect picture of gentleness: “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey.” Matthew 21:5
To be gentle, or really to exhibit any fruit of the spirit, usually requires the final, perhaps most difficult, fruit: self-control. This is self-denial, practiced on both a large and small scale. Not sending the angry email or tweet, pausing & praying before calling another in anger, being proactive instead of reactive – this all involves self-discipline. Self-control in this letter also means everything from sobriety to faithfulness in marriage.
Opening ourselves to God’s Spirit means that these fruits will grow in us and change us. They will, in fact, transform us into the image of Jesus. Listen to C.S Lewis:
“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules, I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’ I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.”
May we show self-control and gentleness toward even those whom we find hardest to love, and may we open our hearts up to the One who will transform us into his image, producing a harvest of glorious fruit in our lives.