Gentleness as a noun may sound rather quiet or reserved, and people with that perspective or who behave gently may seem the same way. The manner of a person who is gentle could be said to be calm and peaceful, but this is not because they are not strong; indeed, people who have the capacity to be gentle in their approach to others often have a deep reservoir of spiritual strength. It is this placid, cool place within that helps them express acceptance and sweetness toward themselves and others. Think about a mother whose child is ill - there is nothing like her cool touch to a fevered brow or her soft voice falling sweetly on ears that are weary of coughs or restlessness.
Jesus - as he is for all things - our model of gentleness. "Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart," he tells us in Matthew 11. There are many instances of his gentleness in scripture and they teach us much about the way of Christ. He was gentle with children, welcoming them with love, as he does us all as children of God. He was gentle with lost sheep, with sinners - but not with their sin. He was clear and taught them to turn from their ways, but he offered them also the opportunity to join him on the path of grace. Unlike the Pharisees who condemned sinners and threw stones at them to humiliate them in public, Jesus rebuked their sin clearly and then welcomed them to follow him.
Let us nurture this fruit of the spirit within our own hearts by studying this virtuous fruit and seeking ways to practice it in our everyday lives. Greet strangers with a smile; speak softly to little children; use a tender touch with family members; take time to rest and restore ourselves, reflecting on the loving acceptance of our LORD and Savior.