Friday, August 15, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit series, Part 8

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness….
Galatians 5:22-23a, CSB

Fruit of the Spirit series, Part 8

So, what is gentleness? Is it a Mr Rogers-like quality? Is it being docile? Is it having a manicure? Or is it being a gentleman, holding doors for ladies and following other standards of cultural decorum?

The Greek word prautes means humbleness and modesty. The fruit of the Spirit is an attitude of humility and modesty before God and others. Shortly after writing about the fruit, Paul used the same word in Gal 6:1.

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit (prautes), watching out for yourselves so you won't be tempted also.

So, when a fellow Christian sins, do not be afraid to confront the person. This is not a gentleness of fear or passivity. But, confront the person to restore him. A Christian is not seeking to demote, but to promote. And do so with an attitude of humility, knowing that you are not any better. We are all sinners and live by the grace of God. And further, seek to restore in humility because you know how easily you could fall into sin. Perhaps you may be tempted into the same sin. Or perhaps you may be tempted into the sin of pride for being above the sin of your fellow Christian. Or perhaps you may be tempted into the sin of despair at how your friend has sinned. Be humble and rely on God.

After all, we are saved by grace, through faith. As James 1:19-21 tells us:
My dearly loved brothers, understand this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man's anger does not accomplish God's righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess, humbly (prautes) receive the implanted word, which is able to save you.
Our natural inclinations are toward quick speaking and slow listening, quick anger and self-righteousness. But, we put our own selves aside and humbly take in the word of God. By that, we are saved.


Father, I come humbly to you knowing that you are the almighty creator of heaven and earth. And yet, I come boldly to you knowing that in Jesus, you have adopted me as your son and welcome me. Help me to be humble, trusting your goodness, your wisdom and your power above anything in me. But also give me boldness, that when I humbly trust you, I can faithfully live for you trusting that you are my hope and my help.

As I read your word, help me humbly absorb your instruction. Help me delight in your word and make it part of my soul.

When I see another person in need, give me the love and humility to reach out to that person and offer a helping hand. Help me lift up others; forgive me for the times when I seek, out of my own pride, to push others down. Help me understand that I am nothing more than a sinner saved by grace, and help me show that grace to others.

Bless your entire church with a sense of humility that leads us to build each other up and strengthen the entire body. A great arm is less useful with a weak hand. And a strong hand is less useful with a weak arm. Let the different parts of the body work together and strengthen each other.

I ask that you, especially, give a sense of humility to your missionaries around the world. Let them reach out to the lost and show the way to you. Let them, with humility, offer themselves for the good of those perishing apart from you. And bless their work by calling many to hear your word and respond with faith in your son. And bless all your people with a personal commitment to being missionaries to the lost surrounding them. Make us all fishers of men.

I ask all these things in the name of Jesus who humbly came to earth and lived a human life, even giving himself up to death on a cross, so that I could enjoy eternity with you. Amen.

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