But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
The greatest results are accomplished by gentle, quiet influences. Not long ago, I saw a man mounted on a dray, very heavily loaded, beating his poor half-starved horse most cruelly, because the wheels had got stuck fast in the mud, and the beast was too feeble to pull them out. The more the man whipped, and swore, and wished the horse might go to the bad place, the more frightened the animal became, and the less able to perform what was so unreasonably demanded. As I witnessed the painful sight, I could not but hope that Mr. Rarey, the horse-tamer, might some time come along, and teach the cruel driver that kind and cheering words would prove much more effectual in making the horse do as he desired. You may ask me, perhaps, whether one who is born cross, and crabbed, and cruel, can ever hope to become gentle. He can. Just listen to the text. "The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness." The Spirit here spoken of is God the Holy Ghost, who teaches, and guides, and blesses us. He it is who helps to make us gentle. The word gentleness (which is one of the virtues which the Holy Spirit helps us to cultivate) means, in the text, goodness and kindness. It is the opposite of a harsh, crooked, and crabbed temper. It is a disposition easy to be pleased, and in our idea of this Christian gentleness we must include mildness and politeness. The power of gentleness is really irresistible. The blustering wind could not make the traveller take off his cloak, but the only effect was that he wrapped himself up the more tightly in it. When, however, the gentle sunbeams shined softly and steadily on him, he was glad to remove it. Gentleness must not be confounded with cowardice, and with a mean, truckling spirit. No one would doubt General Washington's courage; and yet he could practise gentleness. After the Revolution was well over, and the country had become settled and quiet, he was making a long journey in his carriage, attended by several gentlemen who travelled in a conveyance of their own. One afternoon, as night was fast approaching, and they were all anxious to reach the neighbouring town before dark, they found the road almost blocked up by a large wagon drawn by four horses, proceeding at a snail's pace. Wishing to go faster than this wagon, a gentleman in the foremost carriage called out to the teamster, with a lordly air, to turn out and let them pass. As might be supposed, the man merely looked angry, and refused to budge. Seeing how matters were, General Washington spoke politely to the driver, and explaining why they wished to hasten forward, asked him to allow the carriages to go by. The power of gentleness prevailed in a moment; and the weary travellers were soon enjoying a good supper at the village inn. Two little boys were once rolling a hoop over the frozen ground, and, in running carelessly after it, Gerald, the younger, being behind, came in contact with his brother Thomas, and both fell down with violence, the younger on top of the elder. Thomas was severely bruised, and rose up in a terrible passion. He scolded Gerald, in the most offensive words he could think of, and then began to beat him. Instead of crying out, or striking back, the little fellow put his hand into his pocket hurriedly, fumbled about among his treasures, and drawing out a stick of candy, thrust it into Thomas's mouth, even while he was scolding and beating him. Thomas instantly stopped, and looked confused and ashamed. And thus his wrath was turned aside by the spirit of gentleness which his younger brother manifested. I ought to say for your comfort and encouragement, that such a spirit is not natural to us, nor easy to acquire; and yet, the Holy Spirit will help us to gain it, whenever we show a real desire to do so. The Holy Spirit, gentle and loving Himself, is the best teacher we can have.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,