As a fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. Gentleness is an attribute of God (2 Sam. 22:36), a characteristic of Christ (Matt. 11:29; 2 Cor. 10:1, a mark of spiritual maturity (Gal. 6:1), a fruit of biblical wisdom, in contrast to worldly wisdom (James 3:17), and a necessity for church leaders (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).
Gentleness is the Christlike quality of meekness, which flows from the strength of humility, especially when under affliction.
Therefore, the apostle Peter’s call to gentleness is a significant consideration.
…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect1 Peter 3:15
The context of 1 Peter is suffering, to which none of us is immune. The Christians who first received this letter lived under the reign of the Emperor Nero who ruled Rome from A.D. 54 to 68. Nero was a ruthless ruler, caring only about his own rise to power. After a fire destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64, Nero built a glorious palace in the center of the city. As a result, rumors began to circulate that he was responsible for the fire. However, Nero blamed the Christians and began to persecute them. Christians were executed at his command and thus he was personally responsible for this time of great persecution upon the early church. This was the climate of the day for the believers who received Peter’s letter of hope, challenge, and encouragement.
The purpose of First Peter is to give believers hope in the midst of their suffering.
In order to successfully endure suffering, believers must be spiritually prepared. By walking in submission to the Lord they could victoriously live out Christlike character.
Four Ongoing Actions
First Peter 3:8-17 calls us to put on the humility of Christ, which produces righteous living in this evil world, and equips us to suffer in a spirit of gentleness. Here we observe four ongoing actions that will help us to bear this fruit of gentleness.
- Ready yourself with the strength of the humility of Christ (vv. 8-12).
- Rest in the security that is yours in Christ (v. 13-14).
- Reverence Christ as Lord over your suffering (vv. 15-16).
- Realize the superiority of God’s will (v. 17).
Gentleness is the Christlike quality of meekness, which flows from the strength of humility, especially when under affliction. By growing in gentleness, we grow in Christlikeness. Remember, there is only one time in the Four Gospels where Jesus describes himself personally, I am gentle and lowly in heart.
May others say the same about us!