Bill Gaither wrote a beautiful song about Jesus, the Good Shepherd:
It’s winsome and hopeful to picture Jesus as the gentle, Good Shepherd. We do not want to picture God as overpowering or harsh. It could be because we instinctively know the Living God of the Bible is so sovereign and powerful, if He were to exert His power we would be overcome and undone. We would have no choice. He would Master us and there is nothing we could do about it.
Perhaps we secretly hope if Jesus is gentle, then He is weak. Then we can have our way in our lives. Then we get to call the shots.
Here’s the thing. Gentleness does not mean wimpiness.
The water that comes out of the spigot of our house comes out under the pressure applied by the town water supply. With a nozzle on the hose, I can dial the spray from a gentle mist to a powerful stream. The same water with the same power can be dialed down to a gentle mist. It is power under control. That is a Biblical way to see the spiritual fruit of gentleness.
Gentleness is taking all the power of my life and channeling it through the love of Jesus Christ that inhabits my heart so the outcome is gentle. With the love of Jesus controlling my will, I can exert all my powers to help someone else instead of forcing my will on them. I can be gentle with people because I love them.
But the spiritual fruit of gentleness goes even deeper. With the Holy Spirit of God transforming my heart and will, I can be gentle with others not only because I love them, but because Jesus loves them through me.
Yesterday I pulled off a two-lane road onto a four-lane road behind a pickup truck that was accelerating slowly. I pulled into the other lane and started to pass. He sped up and made getting up to highway speed a race. I wanted to win the race, but there was a check in my spirit from the Holy Spirit. I didn’t need to be ahead of the pickup truck. I didn’t need to accelerate my heart to some mild form of road rage. I didn’t need to tempt the other driver to prove he could drive faster than me. Gentleness kicked in, and I backed off and let the pickup truck go on ahead. I set my cruise control and had a quiet drive to the destination. By God’s Spirit I was able to dial down the power I had and drive safely on.
Gentleness is power under control.
I can exert self-control and practice gentleness, and I can allow the Holy Spirit to exercise control of my wild spirit so every action is controlled by the love of Jesus. That love is far from wimpy—it is the most powerful force in the universe.
Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us…