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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, June 29 2023

The fruit of the Spirit - meekness and gentleness

Meekness is one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Gal. 5:22-23. Different translations of the Bible use various words such as – meek, humble, kind or gentle to describe this fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.

by Don Hooser

When the Apostle Paul lists "meekness" as the eighth attribute among the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:23, he uses the Greek noun praotes or prautes— "meekness" is the closest translation for this Greek word.

We are to be meek (yielded, teachable, responsive) in our relationship with God, and meek (humble, gentle, respectful) in our relationships with others. Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek [Greek praus], for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).

Since "meek" is no longer a commonly used word, modern Bible translations frequently substitute the almost-synonymous word "gentle." Scriptures quoted in this article are mostly from the New King James Version, which uses "meek" and "gentle" interchangeably.

Many people confuse "meek" with "weak” which is misleading, because godly meekness requires strength. Some assume a person who doesn't retaliate tit for tat must be afraid or cowardly, but true strength is shown by an individual who stays cool, thinks first and then responds in a way that will help the other person (Proverbs 15:1).

God’s Spirit enables us to be more meek and gentle than we could ever be by ourselves, as Paul shows in his letter to the Galatians. Christians there were backsliding into hostile attitudes and personal conflicts—-"biting and devouring each other" (Galatians 5:15). He urged them to "serve one another" (Galatians 5:13), reminding them, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14). Paul went on to list the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives: "But the fruit [product, effect] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Gentleness is an important character trait when it comes to helping someone caught up in a sin; “You who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). We should be gentle in words and actions, and also have a humble attitude rather than a superior and self-righteous approach (Galatians 6:3).

We are not to be combative or argumentative, but peacemakers.“Love one another with brotherly affection…Live in harmony with one another …Repay no one evil for evil… If possible…live peaceably with all'" (Romans 12:10 and 16-18). That's what Jesus meant by loving everyone and turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-45). Luke 6:31 tells us: "And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).

Meekness includes voluntarily "submitting to one another" (Ephesians 5:21). In a long passage, Peter spoke of the importance of submission of all kinds— toward government (1 Peter 2:13), servants toward masters (1 Peter 2:18), Christ's example of submitting to His tormentors (1 Peter 2:21-25) and wives toward their husbands (1 Peter 3:1). Then in 1 Peter 3:7, he exhorted husbands to be true gentlemen and to honor their wives.

Paul foretold that "in the last days . . . men will be lovers of themselves . . . unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal" (2 Timothy 3:1-3). Doesn't that describe much of the content on television and in movies? God is calling people out of such darkness to be "the light of the world"—to set the right example for others (Matthew 5:14). Pray for God’s help, and make a habit of reading God's Word so it can transform your thinking and way of life.