This month, we’re focusing on the Spiritual fruit of gentleness. Rachel wrote a great introductory post here: Gentleness Week 1. This week, we’re looking at what Paul writes to Titus about gentleness:
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle to everyone.
The context of the verse
I found this article really helpful in understanding the context of the verses. Paul had taken Titus to Crete to share the gospel, and had left him there to continue to tell people about Jesus. Paul is writing to Titus to encourage him and to teach him. These verses comes as the opening to a section on doing good deeds as a witness to others. Therefore, our gentleness can be seen as a witness to others.
Gentle and submissive to authorities
When I think about gentleness, I think about being gentle to those weaker or less able than myself. We look for products that are gentle for our children’s skin. Like Rachel said last week, we teach our children to be gentle to their younger siblings. We think about being gentle in our actions and our words in order not to cause harm.
But this passage turns that idea on its head. This asks us to be gentle to everyone. Not only that, but the passage starts off by telling us to ‘be subject to rulers and authorities.’ We need to extend the spirit of gentleness not only to those weaker, but also those stronger than ourselves.
This is hard. It takes real strength sometimes to practise gentleness when we think that the authorities are doing things that may cause harm or may be moving in the wrong direction. I love this definition of gentleness, which say it is ‘founded on strength and prompted by love.’ That’s pretty incredible, and certainly applies to my definition of this verse.
Gentle to everyone
This, for me, is the real essence of the message in these verses. Everyone deserves our gentleness. It reminds me of the slogan, ‘Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.’ We don’t know, but God knows. God has told us to be gentle to everyone, and that is good enough for me.
The words ‘to slander no-one’ link back to what Rachel wrote about last week about speaking gentle words. Gossip and unkind words are all over our society, much more so, in my opinion, than harsh actions.
Gentle without being passive
As Rachel commented this week in our Facebook group, these verses are about leading an exemplary Christian life. Obedience, goodness, not slandering others, being peaceable, being considerate and being gentle – these are some very high standards! I think this is about living according to God’s standards rather than the world’s standards, and trusting that this will be a witness to others.
This isn’t about being passive. Jesus was gentle, but he was definitely not passive. He was humble, but he is Lord. We need to take Him as our model for gentleness.
Just finally, it constantly amazes me how the fruits of the spirit overlap. Peace is mentioned in this verse, as is, indirectly, kindness. Even though we try to separate them, and we look carefully at the meanings of each word, we can’t. Bearing the fruits of the spirit is about becoming more like Jesus, and we can only do that through His spirit.
Next week, we will be looking at 1 Peter 3:15 ” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, But do this with gentleness and respect.”