#9 Gentleness

Series: The Fruit of the Spirit
Title: Gentleness
Teacher: Jacob Bender
Date: August 30, 2015

scriptures: Luke 22:24-30, Isaiah 55:8-9, Acts 17:6, John 14:6, Acts 24, Luke 22, Matthew 5, Psalm 37:1-13, Proverbs 15:1, Romans 12:19, Acts 7:22, Exodus 2:13, Exodus 3:1, Exodus 4:1-12, Acts 7:22, James 4:6, 1 Corinthians 9:22, Revelation 5:1-10, Isaiah 29:19

William Barclay wrote in his Daily Study Bible, that the Greek word praotēs (the word that we translate as “Gentleness”) is the most untranslatable word of all of the Fruit of the Spirit, so tackling its meaning is no small task. So, here is my best try at explaining it.

Gentleness can also be translated as “meekness.” And we know that the “meek” shall inherit the earth. But who, or what, are the meek?

When Jesus says this (Matthew 5:5) he is quoting Psalm 37 when King David says “The Meek shall inherit the land.” When King David wrote this, the Hebrew word that he used is the word”anawin” 

Primarily, unlike the other words we have been studying, anawin is not a word used to describe a moral or even necessarily a character trait.

At least right here in Psalms, the Psalm that Jesus is quoting in “The Beatitudes,” Its more to describe a group of people. The word I want to use is counter culture but that really doesn’t do it justice… It is more like the voiceless. It is the people who lack the social status, the power, the money. Its the poor, the vulnerable, the outcast, the marginalized. They are the people with no voice. They don’t control anything, they are not Caesar, and never in a million years would they even be able to gain the ear of Caesar for him to hear even their most valuable petition.

These are the people who are the least likely of everyone, to ever inherit any sort of kingdom, or any sort of authority, they are in no succession of royalty and will never have the throne and yet they are the ones who Jesus says, in quoting the Psalmist, will inherit the earth.

And that leads us to the New Testament, where we have Jesus quoting this amazing Psalm in Matthew 5, and in the Greek language that the New Testament is written in the word Matthew used there is the word praÿs

Blessed are the praÿs for they shall inherit the earth.

Which is the same word (different tense) that Paul uses when he is listing the fruit of the spirit, that modern bibles translate as gentleness, and The King James version translates it “meekness” it is the word praotēs, that “most untranslatable of words” according to Barclay.

It seems, by definition to be pretty self explanatory. If you were to search the meaning the words you would immediately find are: gentleness, mildness, or meekness, but where it comes from gives us a little different perspective.

The word comes from a wild animal, that has been tamed. (see Barclay commentary, Matthew 5:5) – For example, a couple of months ago we partnered with a great church from Down River and did “Bless Fest” in Patton Park, and it was awesome. And all of my children, including my one year old daughter, were able to ride on horses. They were thrilled, they absolutely loved it.

But how is it that both my three year old AND even my one year old, tiny daughter, could ride on a horse that weighed 50 times as much as they do… A horse that was completely capable of at any moment throwing her off of its back and crushing her… Yet it didn’t?  and we trusted it not to?

Because it had learned to restrict its power. 

But not only was it holding back on what it was capable of, but it had learned how to hold back so well, that it’s first instinct was now nurturing. It’s first instinct was to gently walk with the child on its back. It’s first instinct was to be gentle even though it was the largest and strongest creature in whole the place.

That concept is where we get the word gentleness from. What Paul is saying, essentially, is this: make yourself like the anawin. Maybe you have the strength, but God gives grace to the humble…. Because it is the people who are broken for Him that He can use.

With that, I encourage you to watch the whole sermon or read the PDF if you would like to learn more about “Gentleness” and what it means for us today.