On October 3, 2003, the popular Las Vegas duo of Siegfried & Roy were in the middle of their act, which combined illusion with white lions and white tigers, when one of the tigers, named Montecore, attacked Roy, leaving him critically injured. During the act, Montecore apparently became distracted and began moving toward the edge of the stage. Since there was no barrier between the stage and the audience, Roy quickly put himself between the Montecore and the audience and commanded the tiger to lie down. Montecore did not listen and instead attacked Roy, who had lost control of the tiger, a powerful animal that possessed great strength. An investigation into this unfortunate accident was unable to determine the cause of the attack. They were never able to determine why Montecore, who had always demonstrated gentleness towards Roy, suddenly turned on him.
Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit. The word translated as gentleness in Galatians 5:23 can also mean meekness or humility. The worldview of meekness is weakness or timidity. But, the meekness or gentleness that we are called to have as believers is anything but. Gentleness, meekness, and humility are not weakness. They are power under control. They are shown when we fully submit our own power to God’s plan. There is no greater example of this than the example of Jesus. Scripture tells us that Jesus possessed gentleness (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus also possessed great power. While He was fully human, Jesus was also fully divine. He had the power to raise the dead back to life (John 11:43-44). He had the power to calm a storm (Luke 8:22-25). He had the power to multiply a young boy’s small lunch into a meal for thousands of people (John 6:8-13). On the night that He was betrayed and arrested, Jesus could have called down an army of angels to set Himself free from those who were leading Him to His death (Matthew 26:53). Jesus had the power to do that. But Jesus submitted His power to God’s plan (Matthew 26:39,42) so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled and God’s promise of a Redeemer and Savior would be realized (Matthew 26:54).
When Montecore attacked Roy, it was an example of power that was no longer under control. This animal, who had previously displayed gentleness, now demonstrated his own unbridled power. In that moment, the tiger was no longer submitting its power to its master, and the result was, for Roy, catastrophic. How catastrophic would it have been for all of us had Jesus not displayed gentleness in submitting to God’s will and plan and instead used His power to avoid going to the cross? We can rejoice in the fact that Jesus chose not to use His divine power for His own good but, in humility, put our need for salvation above His own life and suffered death on a cross that we may have eternal life with the Father in heaven (Philippians 2:5-8). As followers of Jesus, therefore, we must seek the help of the Holy Spirit so that we can cultivate the fruit of gentleness, of power under control, in our own lives.