I would like to acknowledge the insight received from Pastor Rick Renner for these lessons on the Fruit of the Spirit found in his book, Sparkling Gems from the Greek – Volume 1.
Galatians 5:22-23 | NKJV (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The moment you received Jesus as your Savior by faith, God sowed His Spirit and Word into your heart like a seed.
Just like apples always produce apples and oranges always produce oranges, God’s seed inside you began to immediately produce God-like character on the inside of you.
The kind of seed always determines the outcome of the fruit; therefore, you should expect your life to yield the fruits of the Spirit for that is the seed God has sown in your heart.
The word “gentleness” in the NKJV can also be translated “meekness.” Few people think of “meekness” as a desirable attribute. Most assume that if a person is “meek,” he must be “weak”. To these people, a meek person is one who is timid, shy, bashful, or perhaps introverted.
But this is a grossly incorrect view of the New Testament word for “meekness.” In fact, “meekness” is one of the strongest attributes a person can possess, with a unique strength that has a dramatic impact on all it touches.
So, what is “meekness?” The word “meekness” comes from a Greek word which depicts the attitude or demeanor of a person who is forbearing, patient, and slow to respond in anger; one who remains in control of himself in the face of insults or injuries. Although an injurious situation may normally produce a rash or angry outburst, a meek person is controlled by kindness, gentleness, mildness, or even friendliness.
The word “meekness” pictures a strong-willed person who has learned to submit his will to a higher authority.
Meekness is not weakness! One who displays meekness isn’t weak; he is controlled.
He may in fact possess a strong will and a powerful character; he may be a person who has his own opinion. But this person has learned the secret of submitting to those who are over him. Thus, he is one who knows how to bring his will under control.
In rare instances, this word for “meekness” was used to describe wild animals that had become tame because it correctly conveyed the idea of a wild, fierce will under control.
This means when the Spirit is producing meekness in your life, you are controlled even in difficult circumstances.
Rather than fly into a rage and throw a temper tantrum, you are able to remain silent and keep your emotions and temper under control.
If you find yourself in a situation that you fiercely believe is wrong, you are still able to stay silent until the appropriate moment to speak or until you have been asked for your opinion. You know how to control yourself and your emotions.
There is a fear that if we act in meekness, then someone will be able to gain the upper hand over us.
The Lord Jesus is the greatest example of meekness we can see in the Scripture. He withstood the insults and mockery of the religious leaders of His day without responding out of anger. In other words, He was controlled. He did not let His emotions get the best of Him and lose control. Instead, He would wait until the exact right time to respond.
Matthew 27:11-14 | NKJV (11) Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” (12) And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. (13) Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” (14) But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.
Jesus acted in meekness and no one got the upper hand over Him.
Matthew 5:5 | NKJV (5) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5 | GNB (5) “…Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!
In addition to these meanings, the word “meekness” was also used in a medical sense to denote soothing medication to calm the angry mind. A meek person doesn’t project the countenance of one who is offended, upset, angry, or reactive to insults or injuries. Instead, he is so gentle and mild in his response that he becomes soothing medicine for the angry or upset soul, or for a troublesome or unsettling situation.
Proverbs 15:1 | NKJV (1) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1 | TPT (1) Respond gently when you are confronted and you’ll defuse the rage of another. Responding with sharp, cutting words will only make it worse. Don’t you know that being angry can ruin the testimony of even the wisest of men?
Your very presence will become God’s soothing medication for angry, upset people, and you will impart peace to situations that hitherto were unsettling and unstable.
So, take a moment to examine the way you respond to insults, injuries, or volatile situations. Do you find that you are often a contributor to a heated and potentially explosive atmosphere? Or does your presence bring peace into the midst of the conflict? When others say or do something that could offend you, do you quickly retort with a harsh answer, or are you able to control your emotions and temper, remaining silent until a more appropriate time to speak?
The flesh loves to rage out of control, but when meekness is being produced in you by the Holy Spirit, it will make you careful and controlled.
Paul goes on to mention “temperance” next in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. But doesn’t “temperance” have almost exactly the same meaning as the word “meekness”? What is the difference between these two fruits of the Spirit?
As noted above, the word “meekness” has to do with the attitude or demeanor of a person who can control his temper or emotions. But the word “temperance” comes from the Greek words which mean in and power or control. These two Greek words which literally means in control and denotes power over oneself; hence, it is often translated as the word “self-control.” It suggests the control or restraint of one’s passions, appetites, and desires.
Just as a meek individual can control his attitude, a person with temperance has power over his appetites, physical urges, passions, and desires. Because the Holy Spirit has produced temperance in his life, he is able to say no to overeating, no to overindulging in fleshly activities, no to any excesses in the physical realm. A person with temperance maintains a life of moderation and control. This word could be thus translated as restraint, moderation, discipline, balance, temperance, or self-control.
You can see how opposite temperance is to the works of the flesh. If the flesh is allowed to have its way, it will over-worry, overwork, overeat, overindulge, and literally run itself to death. But when a person is controlled by the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit produces in him a discipline over the physical realm that helps him sustain his physical condition, stay in good health, remain free from sin, and live a life that is moderate and balanced.
Now that you better understand the meanings of the words “meekness” and “temperance,” consider how well you’re doing in allowing the Holy Spirit to produce these two spiritual fruits in your life. Do you demonstrate that you can control both your temper and your physical appetites and urges? Are you able to restrain your emotions and keep your flesh under control? Or would you have to honestly say that you have a hard time controlling your emotions and that your flesh is running the show? Take a good look at yourself today to see if meekness and temperance are being produced in you. And if the answer is no, take some time today to ask the Holy Spirit to start producing these two powerful fruits in your life!