The Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness
INTRODUCTION: In our continued study of the “Fruit of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22-23; we come to the word Gentleness.
What do you think of when you hear the word GENTLENESS? The dictionary defines it as “being generous and kind.” For us, I believe that scripture would define it as “COMPASSION.” Someone said,
Sympathy is something you feel; compassion is something you show, or better yet, something you do.
Perhaps no greater illustration of what it means to be compassionate is the story about the Good Samaritan, that is only told in Luke 10:25-37.
FIRST: Notice what COMPASSION is not. Let’s eliminate what compassion is not.
COMPASSION is not ACADEMIC: Luke 10:25-29 introduces the story with the Lord being asked a question by a “certain lawyer” who was testing Jesus. The lawyer asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life.
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (26) He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? (27) And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. (28) And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. (29) But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
This lawyer seemed to have had sufficient knowledge of the Old Testament. But he didn’t know what it really meant, nor did he know how to apply it to his life.
We too can be tempted to be “students of compassion.” We can applaud those who practice it. But we haven’t shown compassion to anyone unless we act on it.
COMPASSION is not ABSTRACT: In verse 30 we read,
“And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.”
The road where the traveler was left for dead was steep, filled with narrow gorges that provided excellent hiding places for robbers. The lawyer would have known how dangerous this road was and would have been able to picture in his mind the bruised and wounded body of the traveler.
In telling him this story, Jesus refused to allow the lawyer to deal with compassion in the abstract.
COMPASSION is not being AFRAID: In verse 31 we read,
“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.”
Suddenly this priest sees the wounded man, and he's forced to confront the neediness and dirtiness of the real world. And he's afraid!
There was no way the priest could be sure if the man was alive or dead, and he couldn't afford to find out. By the religious law of that time, if the man was dead and the priest touched him, the priest would have been ceremonially unclean for seven days.
So the priest made a decision; he put the afterglow of his temple experience above the claims of suffering humanity. Not only did he pass by the wounded man; he passed by on the other side of the road
COMPASSION is not ANALYTICAL: It's easy to become paralyzed when we analyze. Because we are busy analyzing everything that needs to be done, we fail to do anything. This paralysis by analysis is what happened to the next character in verse 32.
“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.”
The Levite was a servant of the temple, and an interpreter of the law. He should have been eager to help this distressed soul. He had the opportunity, he had the knowledge, and he even had a bit more curiosity.
The Levite actually took the trouble to go near and look at the victim. But then he did the unthinkable. He crossed to the other side of the road and made no attempt to help.
The priest and the Levite illustrate the fact that religious work does not make the worker religious. They lacked compassion, they did not – could not – understand what serving God really meant.
SECOND: Notice what COMPASSION is: Now that we've discovered what compassion isn't, what is it?
COMPASSION can SURPRISE you: Verses 33-35
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”
Out of all those who could have been neighbors to this man, the one who became a neighbor out of compassion was a despised foreigner, a Samaritan.
The Samaritans hated the Jews, and the Jews hated the Samaritans. He wasn't like the others in the story, with whom the listeners could identify. This thought would have been particularly intolerable to the lawyer.
COMPASSION is about WHAT YOU SEE: The priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan all looked at the traveler. But only the Good Samaritan saw him.
For Jesus, who is the ultimate Good Samaritan, compassion began with what He saw. On many occasions in the Gospels, Jesus' compassion was linked to seeing.
In Matthew 9, He saw a crowd of people who were weary and confused, and He had compassion on them.
In Matthew 14, Jesus saw another great multitude, and He healed their sick.
In Mark 6, Jesus saw those who were like sheep without a shepherd, and He was moved with compassion to teach them.
When Jesus looked at those around him, He saw opportunities to help. And in seeing, He was moved to compassion in many ways.
He was compassionate toward those who were spiritually lost; He was compassionate toward the sick and the needy.
He was compassionate toward widows and mothers. He touched lepers, cured sick people, befriended social outcasts, and cherished children.
His last acts were to pray for the forgiveness of His murderers and then to look beside Him and feel compassion for a dying thief whom He encouraged and assured of salvation.
When Jesus saw broken humanity, He was moved with compassion. And in this story the Samaritan saw this broken traveler through the eyes of Jesus and had compassion for him. And seeing him, he had to do something.
COMPASSION is about WHAT YOU DO: The Good Samaritan did more than observe the fallen traveler as the others had done. Remember this: “genuine love always involves action.”
Unlike the priest, the Samaritan touched the traveler with hands of kindness and compassion. No ceremonial reason restrained him. He bandaged the stranger's wounds, bathed his sores, and helped him to a safe place where he could recover.
True compassion at work is found in I John 3:17-18.
“But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
Prayer can be compassionate, but compassion requires more than prayer. When it comes to compassion, sometimes God intends for us to answer our own prayers in the moment. Remember our opening statement?
Sympathy is something you feel; compassion is something you show, or better yet, something you do.
COMPASSION is about HOW YOU DO IT: When Jesus asked the lawyer at the end of the story which of the three men had demonstrated that he was a neighbor, the lawyer said, "The one who showed mercy."
That's what this Samaritan did! He delivered compassion to this needy traveler with great mercy and care.
In one of the key New Testament verses on the subject of compassion, we're instructed about the manner in which compassion is to be given.
In I Peter 3:8; we read, "Having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous."
Compassion contains empathy; we are to "love as brothers." When we empathize, we feel what it would be like to stand in another person's shoes.
Compassion contains tenderness and communicates genuine concern and kindness between individuals.
Tenderness may come through sympathy to a grieving parent you know, or to one of your neighbors; but in that moment, it is compassion that moves you to act, as one loving being to another. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
Tenderness may come through sensitivity. In Philippians 2:4-5; we read,
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”
It does not matter how many scriptures you have memorized, how many convictions you possess, or how often you attend church. If you do not exhibit compassionate sensitivity in the family:
Husband to a wife or a wife to a husband, or a parent to a child or teenager or a child or teenager to a parent, you are not fulfilling God’s plan for your life.
Tenderness may be through straightforwardness. Sometimes when you love someone, it is necessary to be straightforward with that person. In Proverbs 27:6; we read,
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
There may be a time in your marriage when you have to kindly confront your mate.
There will be times when you will have to care enough to correct your children’s misbehavior.
There will be times when you might have to confront a friend about whatever he or she is doing.
Please understand that COMPASSION is not WEAKNESS; it is strength under control. It is having the ability to speak the truth in love that what they are doing is wrong according to the Word of God.
If you think Christianity is passive and uninvolved in proclaiming RIGHT, then you are misunderstanding this important truth. To boldly take a stand for right, we must do it as Christ would, in the SPIRIT of COMPASSION.
The world around you needs your compassionate kindness.
The church you are in needs your compassionate kindness.
Your home where people are living in close proximity needs your compassionate kindness.
The fruit of the Spirit is tested in that laboratory we call the family. If you can have compassion and make it work there, it will work anywhere on the face of the earth.
As the Lord gives you opportunity express kindness to those who have needs. See the need; take the lead; and let God use you to “MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN SOMEONE’S LIFE.”
COMPASSION is about WHAT IT COSTS YOU: True compassion simply responds to human suffering with loving kindness: Again notice verses 33-37
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. (36) Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? (37) And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”
Jesus is teaching us that when we love somebody, we give of ourselves to him or her. We share time, money, possessions, and priorities.
At the beginning of the story, the lawyer asked Jesus in verse 29, "Who is my neighbor?" At the end of the story, Jesus asked the lawyer who was neighbor to the wounded man. The conversation turned from "Who is my neighbor?" to "Who is neighbor to him?"
The key question at the end of the story, and the key element of compassion, is not "Who is going to help me?" but "Who am I going to help?" And then the Master said in verse 37, "Go and do likewise." In saying, "Go and do likewise," Jesus was giving the lawyer a choice and a chance.
The choice was to go and do as the Good Samaritan did. The chance was to become a person of compassion.
You may not be able to heal the sick or feed the hungry multitudes the way Jesus did. But that's okay—He doesn't expect that of you. He only expects you to be a genuine channel of His compassion to those who need Him today.
In closing let me give you a story I trust you will remember as I have read this in a number of venues.
Bill was a wild-haired, T-shirt-wearing, barefoot college student. He was esoteric and brilliant, and while attending college, he became a Christian.
Across the street from the campus was a well-dressed, very conservative church that wanted to develop a ministry to the college students, but they were not sure how to go about it.
One day Bill decided to go into that church. He walked in with no shoes, jeans, a T-shirt, and wild hair. The service had already started, so Bill started down the aisle, looking for a seat. But the church was packed, and he couldn't find one.
By now people were looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one said anything. Bill got closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realized there were no seats, he just sat down right in the aisle on the carpet. By now the congregation was really uncomfortable, and the tension in the air was thick.
About this time, from way at the back of the large church, a deacon was slowly making his way toward Bill. The deacon was in his eighties, with silver-gray hair and a pocket watch, a godly man who was very elegant, dignified, and walked with a cane.
It took a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church fell utterly silent, except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes were focused on him; you couldn't hear anyone breathing. The people were thinking. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.
The elderly man reached Bill and paused. Then he dropped his cane on the floor and, with great difficulty, lowered himself and sat down next to Bill to worship with him. The church was silent with emotion.
When the minister gained control, he said, "What I am about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."
The story of the Good Samaritan and the story of the deacon and Bill are not only stories of compassion; they are also illustrations of salvation.
The human race was helpless and hopeless in the grip of sin, untouched and uncared for, yet loved by God. What that elderly deacon did for Bill is exactly what God has done for you and me.
We were sitting all alone in our pain, shame, and righteous raggedness; and He sent His own Son down here to assure us that we need never be alone again. Jesus, in His compassion, is here.
If we will allow Him, He will sit down beside us, and He will share His compassion with us and through us.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 86:15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “The Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness,” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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