Fruit of Gentleness
(From a recorded sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi )
What does the Lord look for in us? Fruits! Fruits of the Holy Ghost! If we have the fruits manifested as God said, and we are faithful in this way and fear him as the scripture has said, "there is no want to them that fear him." (Psa.30: ). The Lord himself said "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying he shall never see death!" (Jn.8:51). When we have done our part, we can say, Lord, do your own part: keep me to the next generation if you are not coming in this generation. That is my challenge! To please God and be permited by Him to wait through to the generation in which the rapture will take place, because I want to go away from here in the rapture. I believe Enoch must have had such faith and held unto God. Knowing that it will still be almost 5000 years ahead, God took him away that he should not see death! Folks, that is what it means to walk with God and to please God. But what does God look for in us? Fruits! Fruits of the Spirit! Therefore, we need to look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our life.
Apostle Peter wrote: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge tempetance; and to tempetance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. " (2Pet.1:3-8).
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal.5:22-23).
I will like to talk about the fruit of gentleness. I want to bring my thesis by discussing the life of a peculiar person in the scriptures. I have never heard anyone presented this man as anybody to be admired in the new testament. However from his life I want to point to what I can see as gentleness.
What can we say is gentleness? The dictionary describes "gentle" to mean "refined; courteous; of the upper class; generous; kind; tame; patient; not harsh or rough". Gentleness should therefore be an attribute of somebody who is approachable, of good spirit. I want to point to one man in the bible whom I believe was recorded to have a gentle spirit. His name was Barnabas.
This fruit of gentleness which I am discussing is the attribute which makes people find you approachable, non-threatening, easy to be entreated, and accomodating. People are not afraid to come to you to make a friend out of you. It may be from the spirit in you but it radiates to your face also.
"And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles feet." (Acts 4:36-37). I believe this verse was included as a testimony that the believers really sold their lands and gave it all to the church, and very likely Barnabas was sitting there while Luke wrote this book, and he wanted his name included as an example of one of those who sold their lands.
This was the first mention of Barnabas. He was called the son of consolation. That may not ring any bell. In the next mention of Barnabas, in Acts 9:27, is a pointer to what I believe "gentleness" is all about. It was recorded that when apostle Paul became a Christian on the road to Damascus, after he was formerly known as a persecutor of the saints, when he came back to Jerusalem and tried to mingle with the disciples, everybody was scared of him. Barnabas was the first person to take him by the hand and present him to the apostles. "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."
You should ask yourself the question: how come Barnabas was the one to bring Saul to the apostles? Maybe Saul (or Paul) found Barnabas approachable. This is the first thing that caught my attention! Barnabas must be somebody who was so cheerful and joyful, non-threatening, always believing in people. I believe he knew about Paul. He knew that Paul was a dangerous person when he was still persecuting the Christians. Maybe he heard that Paul had been converted in Damascus. Others could have heard the rumour of the conversion also, but they didn't or couldn't quite embrace it and therefore they were careful of Paul when he came by. We have to realise that human beings are very sensitive to people's reactions, and some people are more sensitive than others. If someone shook Paul's hand and then quickly moved away from him, Paul might sense they were avoiding him. See what I mean? Maybe Barnabas was different which made Paul approached Barnabas to relate the detail conversion to him.
For example, even in this generation where there are so much inuendos and pre-conceived ideas about ethnic groups, occasionally I have visited few church services where the congregation may be all white people. This church may not have seen a black visitor for many years. Some folks may shake my hand and move on, perhaps not really comfortable to associate with a black man because of their personal background. But there may be one person in that congregation who will just hang around with me, chatting and discussing, making me feel very much at home in their midst. If you investigate, that person simply have a gentle spirit, with no hangover from past tales. That is what I am talking about.
Paul must have found Barnabas approachable, and told him his testimony; Barnabas got hooked on it and took him by the hand and brought him to the apostles. That was a gentleness in Barnabas. He was easy to be entreated. He believeth all things -- which is again an attribute of love . (1Cor.13:7). "(Charity, or) Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
Also in Acts 11:22, tidings of the new converts in several non-jewish cities had come to the hearing of the apostles in Jerusalem and they decided to send somebody from Jerusalem to build up the new converts. Guess who was sent? Barnabas! They didn't even send Barnabas and somebody else.
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, ...., preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene .. spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch."
So Barnabas was not only approachable, even the apostles could trust him for some reasons to send only him towards Antioch. It could be just his characteristics. A gentle spirit. We all need that kind of gentle spirit. Furthermore, we see Barnabas again in chapter 13. God already marked Barnabas for something great. As the Christians ministered to the Lord at Antioch, "the Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." (Acts 13:2). God had a plan for Barnabas. Most of the time when God has a plan for somebody, his hand is already on the fellow. You will see a different attitude in him, a different characteristic, a good spirit, or sometimes a quiet spirit because God already has his hand on him. That can explain why Barnabas was being singled out, and being separated from the crowd for his gentle spirit.
Holy Ghost called Barnabas and Paul to go forth and preach. They went out. Now there was a young man who decided to go with them. His name was John Mark. He went with them to a city or two and then for some reasons he decided to go back home to Jerusalem.
In the end, Paul was not well pleased with the way John Mark departed from them on the journey. I perceive, since Barnabas was perhaps senior to apostle Paul (maybe in age, and in the gospel), Paul might have had to carry more lugages for their journey, since John departed. They were leaning on John Mark as a handyman; but he left and the luggages had to be carried by the two of them. Perhaps Paul had to carry a bigger share of the luggages for being the junior of the two.
The second time they were about to go on the missionary journey again from Antioch, John Mark wanted to follow them. Barnabas agreed but Paul was furiously against it. "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.
And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work." (Acts 15:36-38).
Paul couldn't pardon John's offence for cutting away from them in the previous trip. But why was Barnabas able to accept John-Mark easily like that? Some theologians have suggested that maybe Barnabas was a close cousin to John-Mark. There is no evidence of that. What I see is a fruit of gentleness. Barnabas was able to easily understand other people.
Gentleness, therefore, has to do with understanding people, being able to put oneself in other people's shoes. This is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which will make someone to be able to forgive other people easily. Being able to put oneself in someone else's shoe. Barnabas perhaps was able to reason with John-mark that, "maybe John-Mark, being a young man, was home-sick; he missed his mom, and decided to go home. I can relate to that. Well, we had to do the job ourselves. If he wanted to go this time we should let him go." (Acts 12:12). But Paul said "No! I don't want to go with him!"
What I am pointing out therefore is the gentleness that easily forgives other people. Barnabas was easily forgiving people, he was able to understand people because he was putting himself in the other people's shoe to see their reason.
King David also showed some gentleness. On many occasions, he had King Saul, his enemy, right at his feet and could have killed Saul. But he refused to kill him. In the end king David himself wrote:"Thy gentleness has made me great". He realized that the gentleness he had was supernaturally given to him by the Lord. He refused to kill king Saul many times, even though his servants urged him to kill the king. He resisted them by saying "I will not raise up my hand against the Lord's anointed." (2Sam.3) That is a form of gentleness. If he was a wild man, he would have killed Saul at the first opportunity.
The Lord himself has shown much gentleness to mankind. Gentleness is forgiving people, just as I described Barnabas as easily forgiving people. The body of Christ needs to pray for the fruits of the Spirit to manifest in us. What we should really pray for is "divine love". The bible said "love" has all these attributes. Yet the bible still identifies each fruit as separate from love. (1Cor.13, Gal.5:22). We should therefore also pray for the individual fruit to manifest in our life.
An example of the gentleness of God himself is when the Lord dealt with Gideon. What the Lord did for Gideon was a demonstration of gentleness. Gideon showed human doubt, and fear so many times when God called him, but God kind of helped him along the way. Gideon saw an Angel who talked to him and sent him to go deliver Israel from the Midianites. What could be more convincing? He was still scared. God was helping him along. "And Gideon said unto God, if thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand as thou hast said." (Judges 6:36-37). God did it for him. In this generation people will condemn you for trying God like that. Yet God allowed him and performed it for him. Gideon was still not satisfied. He asked for another chance the second day. "And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground." (v.39-40). God allowed it again. God allowed Gideon's doubt. That is gentleness from God. Even Gideon was still afraid. God told him finally: "And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host." (Judges 7:9-11). God set up a drama at the enemy's camp. It could have been an angel telling the dream. When Gideon went to the outside of the camp of the armed Midianites, one of the Midianites was relating a dream and another was interpreting the dream: (v.13) "And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host." God set up that dream and the interpretation of it, and it was only when Gideon came near to listen that they were relating it. What I am pointing out is that God showed a lot of gentleness towards Gideon to help him go forth with faith to do the job God had called him to do. God had been so gentle with us also. Imagine how many times we have stumbled and fallen, and yet God allowed us to still go on in the Christian race.
In summary, we must pray and ask for the fruit of gentleness and the fruit of love.
In Mat.11:29, the Lord himself spoke about himself: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The Lord described a gentle Spirit when He stated that "I am meek and lowly in heart". That portrays a gentle Spirit.
Let's pray that the body of Christ worldwide will allow the Holy Ghost to manifest the fruits of Love, gentleness, and all the other fruits in us.
I pray that the fruits of the Holy Ghost will manifest in every believer, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry
Gospel Distribution Ministry, Phoenix Arizona USA