Fruit of the Holy Spirit – Gentleness and Self-control

In Acts 2:1-4 we read, When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

This is what happened during this time 2000 years ago on the first Pentecost, the feast which we celebrate in our church this Sunday.

Thus, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church, just as it had descended as a dove upon Jesus at His baptism (Matthew 3:16).  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the Church. He does this through His gifts, fruit, and charisms.

What are gifts, fruit and charisms and what is the difference.

Gifts are something that we get willingly from someone for free, i.e. without making any payment.  It is a present and we don't have to exert any effort to become recipients of gifts.  For e.g.  supermarket

On the other hand, fruit is the result of our conscious effort or endeavor.  It requires some input from ourselves and the outcome of the effort is the fruit.  For example a mango tree.  In order to reap a harvest of mangoes, we would have to first plant a seed in the soil, water it, put manure and care for the plant till it grows into a tree.  The mangoes that the tree will yield is the fruit of our effort.

Charisms are also gifts of a spiritual nature.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (para 1831) states: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile (or submissive) in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Fruit of the Holy Spirit

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is virtues or graces that influence the character of the Christian.  In order to live the life that God wants us, His sons and daughters, to live, He didn't leave us alone, with only our own abilities, but rather gave us His Spirit to produce fruit in our lives.

Charism of the Holy Spirit

According to CCC para 2003, Charism is simply the Greek word used in the New Testament for "favor" or "gratuitous gift." Charisms, or spiritual gifts, are special abilities given to Christians by the Holy Spirit to enable them to be powerful channels of God's love and redeeming presence in the world. Whether extraordinary or ordinary, charisms are to be used in charity or service to build up the Church.

The seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Fruit of the Spirit are gifts given to us to keep. They are part of our inner transformation as Christians and provide the inner "Christ-likeness" necessary for the effective use of our charisms (CCC paras 1830-1832)

Charisms, on the other hand, are gifts given to us to give away, and are one of the ways God continues to enter the world through our acceptance and cooperation.  They always benefit other people. Charisms are always focused outward: they enable God's love and goodness to reach our neighbor through us.

The gifts are to be used to bear fruit. All who are confirmed are equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to live a virtuous and holy life, and sent forth to bear much fruit, something that is possible only when one stays firmly attached to Jesus, the vine (John 15:1-8).  The graces of the Spirit strengthen confirmed Christians to carry out their vocations for the good of others and the benefit of the Church and the world.


The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a Christian. The Bible makes it clear that everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14). One of the primary purposes of the Holy Spirit coming into a Christian's life is to change that life. It is the Holy Spirit's job to conform us to the image of Christ, making us more like Him.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is in direct contrast with the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This passage describes all people, to varying degrees, when they do not know Christ and therefore are not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful flesh produces certain types of fruit that reflect our nature, and the Holy Spirit produces types of fruit that reflect His nature.

The Christian life is a battle of the sinful flesh against the new nature given by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As fallen human beings, we are still trapped in a body that desires sinful things (Romans 7:14-25). As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us and we have the Holy Spirit's power available to conquer the acts of the sinful nature (2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13). But we need to activate that power. It is like being gifted with electricity and a light bulb.  But if we do not activate the electricity by turning on the switch we will never enjoy the light of the bulb. 

The word of God tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  These reveal nine characteristics of Jesus.  These are not nine different fruits, but nine aspects of the same fruit.  Just like an orange, which is one fruit but has different segments within or a diamond with many sides, the fruit is singular but with different aspects.

This evening I will share on Gentleness and Self-control.

Gentleness can be translated as humility or meekness but it does not mean weakness. One who is gentle is mild and polite, not rough or violent.  It involves humility and thankfulness toward God, and polite, restrained behavior toward others. The opposites of gentleness are anger and a desire for revenge. Gentleness is the absence of bad temper.  It is close in meaning to kindness.  Gentleness is one of the traits that is associated with Authority.  It is generally seen in our relationship with others.  A person who is gentle does not easily become angry.

The Epistle of James says that meekness or gentleness is generated in a person as a result of wisdom given by the Holy Spirit.  James 3:17 says “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.”  He who is filled with the Holy Spirit gains strength to behave gently.  (1 Peter 3:4)

A person filled with the Holy Spirit does not shout and quarrel with others. He is compassionate and gentle towards others and speaks to people in a Christ-like way (1 Peter 3.8).

Jesus Christ was meek and gentle.  Jesus told his disciples “Learn from me, because I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).  Gentleness is a godly virtue.  The person who associates with God through the Holy Spirit gains it abundantly.

Gentleness is an important virtue required for every disciple, i.e. me and you.  All of us who are followers of Christ should keep away from fights, arguments and be gentle to all men (Titus 3:2).  In Ephesians 4:2, St. Paul advises us to “live with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”.

Every person is powerful. We can speak words that influence others; we can act in ways that help or hurt; and we can choose what influences will inform our words and actions.

When we are filled with the Spirit’s fruit of gentleness, we will correct others with easiness instead of arguing in resentment and anger.  We will forgive readily, because any offense toward us is nothing compared to our offenses against God.  Competition will disappear, as the goal becomes less about ourselves and more about preaching the gospel

Once we really start walking in the Holy Spirit with His divine fruit operating and flowing through us – we will really be able to feel and sense when we should handle a certain person or a certain type of situation with more of a touch of gentleness rather than with any kind of stern rebuke or condemnation.  There is a time for tough love – but there are also times that just a gentle and loving touch is all that is really needed to properly handle a certain situation.  The Holy Spirit will guide us in all of this

Gentleness is one of the traits that is associated with Authority.  We must show gentleness to the people whom we are in charge of.  Our children, our subordinates, our domestic help at home.  We, who are parents, specially need this fruit operating through us, as it is very easy to get out of balance with the way we correct our children. Sometimes more of a tough love approach is needed, but at other times more of a gentle approach will be better suited for the situation.

If all our children ever hear from us are stern words of scolding and criticism, and it is never properly balanced out with words and actions of love, kindness, and gentleness, then after a certain period of time our children will start distancing themselves from us.
When we learn to walk in this quality of gentleness, not only will people love us and be attracted towards us more but we will be at much more peace with ourselves.

Jesus gave us the perfect picture of gentleness: “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5), and now He offers us His gentleness as a gift. If we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we will be filled with fruit of gentleness.

Example – The gift of meekness can be seen in St. Vincent De Paul.  Once a mother asked the saint to use his influence to secure her son a good position in the Church.  The saint knew her son was not qualified for the position sought.  Therefore, he discouraged her.  In a fit of anger she threw a stool at him.  His forehead bled with the injury.  Inspite this the saint told her gently: “Behold, how wonderful is the love of the mother for her son”

The Lord gives many rewards to those who are meek and mild.  He gives them food (Psalm 22:26), Dispenses justice to them (Isaiah 11:4).  The Lord protects them (Psalm 76:9) and leads them (Psalm 25:9).  The Lord lifts them up (Psalm 147:6), makes them victorious (Psalm 149:4).  Blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5), God gives them new joy (Isaiah 29:19).  The meek will seek God and will find them (Zephaniah 2:3).

Self-control is the personal discipline or control in all aspects of one's life, especially with regard to sexual passions.  Self-control is the ability to control oneself. It involves moderation, constraint, and the ability to say a big “NO” to our improper desires and fleshly lusts.

Self-control is listed last on the list by St. Paul in Galatians 5:22-23.  But this does not mean that self-control is the least important fruit of the Spirit. It easily could have been first because it plays an important part in making other spiritual fruit grow ripe. Self-control is the glue that holds all the other fruit together.  In fact, for some, Self-control could be on the top of the list because with Self-control they will be able to mature in the other fruit of the Spirit.

Like the other fruit of the Spirit, self-control is a gift of grace.  It has been called “disciplined or trained grace”: grace because it is free, disciplined because there is something for us to do.  When we fail to control ourselves—our feelings, our appetites, our drives—then they control us.  So, we must choose self-control under the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  Or we must accept being controlled by someone or something else.  We are the ones who decide.

In 1 John 2:15 & 16 we are warned to stay away from three lusts.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world;  for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

There are dos and do nots in the Christian life.  There is a con­tinuing struggle with self, with the flesh, and with the ways of the world.

When we fail to control our flesh, we give the devil a foothold. We allow Satan to tempt us because of our lack of self-control.  When we live by the Spirit and put to death the things of the flesh, then we can begin to say, as Jesus did, that the "prince of this world" (the devil) "has no hold on me". 1 Peter 5:8-9 says. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith." Self-control is necessary if we are to succeed in spiritual warfare.

When the flesh has power over us, we find ourselves in the position that St. Paul described in Romans 7:14-25, "What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do", "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out", I am "a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." What St. Paul describes is the opposite of self-control. As we become able, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, to live by the Spirit and put to death the things of the flesh, we become self-controlled.

Romans 6:13-14 illustrates true self-control.:

"Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."

In a sense, self-control sums up all the other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. To develop the fruit of the Spirit is to allow our spirit, in which the Holy Spirit dwells, to be in control of our soul and our body. To the extent that we achieve this we become mature and complete, we become single-minded, we achieve inner peace, and we become fully submitted to God.

A common characteristic of all the acts of the sinful nature is a lack of self-control. As we develop self-control and learn the genuine satisfaction and joy of living a Spirit-led life, the power of these sinful impulses will decrease.

Colossians 3:1–10 gives us rules for holy living as new persons in Christ. From these verses, we learn several important things we must do to grow self-control in our lives.

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.  These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.  But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.”

Every skill has to be practised. Self-control does not come in a day.  It comes in hits and misses, in successes and failures, as we try to practice it day after day.

Brothers and sisters, we should not keep putting yourself in places where our weaknesses will be tested.  These are the places where it is difficult to control our desires under the firing line of temptation.  We must avoid anything that seems to be evil.

Self-control naturally leads to perseverance as we value the long-term good instead of the instant gratification and momentary pleasures of the world. Self-control is a gift that frees us. It frees us to enjoy the benefits of a healthy body. It frees us from a guilty conscience. Self-control restricts the indulgence of our foolish desires.

Self-control is the change in our character that comes about because of the Holy Spirit's work in us. The Holy Spirit helps us to be humble and obey God. We do not think of pleasing ourselves but our one desire is to please God in all we say and do. When temptations come we resist them and control our bodily desires and so stand strong in our faith. We do not become a Christian on our own, and we cannot grow on our own. Every good thing we do is the fruit of the Spirit's work in our lives. As the Spirit gives us self-control, we can refuse sin.

One of the proofs of God’s working in our lives is the ability to control our own thoughts, words, and actions.

Jesus faced all his opponents with self control.  Jesus exercised self control before Herod and Pilate.  Even when false accusations were leveled against him, Jesus heard them with self control.  He was beaten and tortured, yet he did not open his mouth.  He was silent. Isaiah 53:7 says, “Yet he opened not his mouth like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb”

Examples: Alcohol, diabetic, blood pressure, heart patient


God the Father calls us to be holy as He is holy.  He is the Potter, we are the clay.  It is His desire to mold and shape us into the image and likeness of His Son Jesus.  He does this through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. 

Jesus tells us in John 15:4-5 “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Remember, fruit takes time to develop and grow.  It must be watered and given good care.  In the same way the fruit of the Spirit develops and grows in our lives when we study the word of God and come into a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, spend quality time in personal prayer, fasting, going to confession often.

When we give our lives to Jesus, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we become more like him. We begin to follow him and to act like Him. The fruit of the Spirit is what God desires our lives to exhibit and, with the Holy Spirit's help, it is possible!


Shared by Lester D’Mello, God’s Love Community, Salmiya, Kuwait

The content of this sharing has been resourced and collated from articles and teachings on various internet sites.  The primary and sole purpose of this sharing is to get a better understanding of the gifts, fruit and charisms of the Holy Spirit and to share it with others in order that we may all grow spiritually.

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