This is a great word for Paul to mix into this “fruit salad.” In some ways it sums up this whole list, along with love of course. The person that is prautas is humble, meek, and self forgetful. This is the underlying attitude that must accompany all the other virtues that we have listed. Patience, but not humble? Nope, you’ll be self righteous. Kindness but not humble? Nope you’ll be manipulative. Goodness but not humble. Nope you’ll be a phony. Faithful but not humble? Nope, you’ll be a pushover.
To live in prautas is to live in consideration of the other person. To put them first. This is the life of Christ. It is how he lived every moment of every day. To have this gentleness is to have the character of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:1. I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!
Paul says he has Christ’s own gentleness. This is of course true of all of us who have the Spirit- the indwelling life of Christ. In fact, all of the virtues known as the “fruit of the Spirit” are in you already. You don’t have to pray for them or work harder to get them. You have them! Start by simply trusting in your union with Christ, and stop resisting the grace of Christ in the trying moments of each day. But I digress.
The opposite of gentleness is superiority. The show-off or self promoter is failing to be gentle.
Fake gentleness is inferiority. The one who is fearful and constantly self-conscious may appear to be gentle, but they are actually just self absorbed. Avoiding conflict can also be fake gentleness. Sadly this is what most of us think of when we think of someone who is gentle. We think wimpy. Or passive. But if our Savior was gentle, he was never wimpy or passive. Every abuse he endured he endured from great strength and for the benefit of others. Gentleness can only exist where true strength already exists.
For the Christian this same gentleness is the foundational way of relating to both other Christians and those who are questioning Christianity.
Ephesians 4:1-2. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness [prautas], with patience, bearing with one another in love,
1 Peter 3:15. 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 [prautas] and respect,
Prautas is so foundational to our relationships because without it you’re just a big fake. You can’t “bear with others” (Eph. 4:2) without this self forgetfulness. You won’t tell others the “reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15) without this humility.
“To live is Christ” means that the gentleness of Christ now becomes our foundational relational trait. We are no longer motivated by our own self interests, but rather the freedom of Christ allows us to serve the interests of others.
Do you live in gentleness that comes from security in Christ? Or is your gentleness a fake version rooted in your own comfort? Have you seen gentleness, self forgetfulness, and humility, characterizing your life more and more over these past months? Don’t just ask yourself, ask a spiritual friend too- one who will tell you the truth.