Fruit-bearing trees are used in the Scriptures to represent the race of mankind. The Savior likens the wicked to “corrupt trees,” which bear evil fruit, and the righteous to “good trees,” which bear good fruit. He also teaches very emphatically the impossibility of one’s being a good tree and yet bearing evil fruit, or of being a corrupt tree and bearing good fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). Since the nature of the fruit we bear determines what manner of tree we are it is very advisable that we as professing Christians should frequently examine the fruit we are bearing. To be Christ’s or to be a Christian, we must have the Spirit of Christ, for the Scriptures say that “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9) As certainly as cause produces effect, those who have the Spirit of Christ bear the fruit of the Spirit. Not to bear the fruit of the Spirit is full proof that you have not the Spirit. Then a close examination of the fruit you are bearing will reveal to you whether or not you have the Spirit of Christ, whether or not you are His, whether or not you are a Christian. You can make a superficial examination, and allow yourself to be deceived. You can make excuses for yourself because of your weaknesses, and thus deceive yourself. But a close, thorough, profound examination will disclose to each one the manner of spirit he is of.
Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). If we have the Spirit of Christ, we bear this fruit. “Well,” says one, “in my very makeup I am rough, harsh, and hasty.” You need to be made anew. When God finds a man that is rough, harsh, and severe in his makeup, He will, if the man will yield to the operation of the Holy Spirit, make him mild, gentle, and peaceful. People go to a hospital and by scientific operation have abscesses and tumors removed from the stomach and other internal parts. God, by a blessed, wonderful, and successful operation of the Holy Spirit, will take that roughness, harshness, and severity out of your nature, and instill mildness, tenderness, softness, and gentleness instead. Harshness and roughness are a corruption that God, in His gracious plan of salvation, is pleased to remove. If you will allow the Holy Spirit to work in you that which is pleasing in God’s sight, He will make you gentle.
What is gentleness? It is blandness, softness, mildness, and meekness. It is the opposite of harshness, roughness, etc. It is sweetness of disposition, mildness of temper, softness of manner, kindness, tenderness, etc. Those who are of a gentle disposition act and speak without asperity. They are not morose, sour, crabbed, and uneven, but are smooth, mild, and even. Good manners are intimately connected with gentleness, and good manners are no dishonor to Christianity.
The apostle Paul by way of testimony said to the Thessalonian saints, “We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7) Such was his manner. As a kind mother is to a delicate child, so was he to those whom he loved. Vastly different was he then from what he was when he was persecuting and wasting the church of God. He had been changed by grace. He exhorts servants of the Lord to “be gentle unto all men” (2 Timothy 2:24) and to be “gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:2) David, in his sublime tribute of praise to God in 2 Samuel 22 says, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” (2 Samuel 22:36)
Would you, my reader, like to be more gentle in your manner? Are you too harsh and rough? Are you, if a parent, as gentle to your children as you should be, at all times? Husband, are you as kind and gentle toward your wife as you should be? Do you believe you fill the Bible measure in this particular ? Are you as gentle to your domestic animals as you should be? Or do you have impatient feelings and act in a hasty, abrupt manner towards them? If you meet with something quite provoking from your wife or the children or the animals, do you keep as mild and sweet as you know you should? Now, I hope you will examine closely. I do not mean to condemn you; I want to help you. There are many professing saints today who are not nearly so gentle as they should be. Why not be in earnest, and seek God for help, and make improvement? Why go along with crossness, and coldness and snappishness in your life? Be gentle toward all.
Gentleness is a beauteous grace. Her excellence is great. By culture this grace is capable of much improvement. Too few saints experience it to the extent they should. I beseech you by the gentleness of Jesus to be in earnest and improve upon your gentleness. Never allow a frown or a scowl to settle for a moment upon your brow. It will leave its mark if you do so. Learn to be gentle in your home. Sometimes when far away from home, you picture to yourself how gentle and kind and loving you should be at home. By God’s grace you can be just as gentle as you see in the picture you should.