The Fruits of the Spirit – Part 3

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-24

Today we finish our discussion on the fruits of the Spirit. We’ve determined that in order to embody the fruit of ‘love’, we simply need to BE loving. To be joyful we need only FIND joy in all of nature and all of creation. And to enjoy the peace that passes all understanding, we could simply BE peacemakers. It couldn’t be easier, we need only to act upon the nudgings of the Holy Spirit. Faith requires action.

So let’s dive in to today’s discussion starting with ‘faithfulness’. Faithfulness is merely being full of faith and acting on it. So what is faith and where does it come from?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Let’s stop there and think about this a minute. One fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness. We must have faith in order to please God. The good news is that He rewards us when we diligently seek Him. I like that. But, where does this faith come from? Are we born with it? Did we pick it up in elementary school? Did we dissect it in science class? Just where do we get this thing called faith? The answer can be found in the book of Romans.

“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

So, it would seem that all we have to do to get faith is to listen. But that is not actually the whole picture. If we read the entire passage in Romans, (Ro 10:14-22) we find that Israel was told but they did not receive it, they rejected it. God put it out there for them, but they rejected this gift of faith that God had put out there. They listened but did not hear. Their ears were shut dumb. They did not do their part in the transaction: they refused to hear.

If you have any measure of faith, my friend, you have God Almighty to thank for it. For, by His grace, he put the information out there and all that is needed from you and me is to receive it. To accept it. To act upon it. And the way we thank Him is by being faithful. Loyal.

Like everything else, it all points back to God. Our faithfulness comes from Him and it goes back to Him. It is a fruit of the Spirit. His Spirit. The Spirit that is living inside of you (if indeed you are saved).

How do we become faithful? We pray. We meditate on His Word both day and night. We engulf ourselves within the flame of His being. It really is simple. We have the capacity for being faithful because being faithful is what the Holy Spirit is all about. It doesn’t just happen. It is given to you. And you build up your faith by spending time in the word. Again, it’s all about God. It’s about bringing glory to the one who called you and saved you and is faithful to you. He deserves our loyalty.

He deserves our faithfulness because He is faithful first.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

God has proven over and over and over again that He is faithful. And He desires us to be faithful as well. Part of our obligation is to read scripture and learn about Him. How can we know what God wants if we don’t know anything about Him? It’s about His grace. And we show our appreciation by being good stewards, faithful priests in His service.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

If you are saved, then you have voluntarily accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You have accepted the gift of salvation. You are a new creature. But that’s not the end of the story. We were created for ‘good works’. We could be bringing glory to God by our ‘living sacrifice.’ Not doing so is to disregard the gift.

“By grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

Okay, so faithfulness is something that we can aspire to. Something we can perform. It is nothing more than being obedient and desiring to bring glory to God in everything we do. The Holy Spirit inside you may nudge you from time to time, even daily or hourly, to see if you are listening and hearing and accepting the faith that God has entrusted to you and you alone. We each get a certain measure of faith. It is unique to us. With it we can be faithful in our duties as servants of Christ. And we are servants. We have traded death for life, and our reasonable service is to dedicate our lives to God. To be holy. Set apart for Him.


Now gentleness is a quality that everybody can agree Jesus had. He showed compassion on the crowds and fed them. He permitted the children to come to him. He healed lepers and the sick. No doubt, these folks were used to experiencing discriminations and persecutions. And you don’t just walk up to someone and bolt your hand out to them and say, “Your sins are forgiven!” What doctor have you ever gone to that was loud and obnoxious and treated you with indignation? No, a physician has to be gentle. Jesus is The Great Physician. And aren’t you a physician? Aren’t you entrusted with the care of the people of this broken world? You are a holy priest. Dead to sin. Raised incorruptible. As a servant of Christ, and His friend and brother, we are to shine our light upon the world and preach the gospel to the lost. We are to bring them to the Great Physician, the Holy One of God. Our job is to be everything the Spirit wants us to be.

Do you look upon the masses as a shepherd or a wolf? Are you compassionate, or, do you hate people? Are you totally annoyed by the things they say and do? Could you live the rest of your life happily if you never have to deal with ‘idiots’ ever again? Are you always the victim? Are you self-less or self-ish?

Where is your heart, O man?!

We are supposed to be acting like Christ. Christ was gentle. Humble. Obedient. Loving. Are you any of those things? Do you get on your knees and ask to be these things?

Gentleness, like all the other fruits of the Spirit, is already something you have the capacity for (if you are saved). You need only ask that the Holy Spirit guide you into obedience for it. It’s like what you set your mind on, your body will follow. It doesn’t come in a day, necessarily. It could take you the rest of your life to say comfortably that you are a gentle person. But, the point is that you take a step toward that goal each and every day. Many times a day, if need be. You can do it. God believes in you. Otherwise he wouldn’t have entrusted you with the gift. Remember, he doesn’t call just ‘anybody.’

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)

He called you. He justified you. And He predestined you to be like Christ. Christ endured. Paul endured. We were created to be conformed in the image of Christ, in every way but one. We are not perfect, nor ever can be.

Like all the other fruits, we strengthen them by using them. Be gentle. Be faithful. Be loving. Be a peacemaker. Be. Do. Act.


Oh, we’re not done yet are we? Ah ha! We have come to this: the gift of self-control. Did I say gift? Oh. Maybe I meant the fruit of self-control. Maybe, but they both point to the same thing. The Holy Spirit.

Ah yes, self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We can experience it the same way we experience the rest: do it. Be it. Act it out. Embody it. Practice it.

Self-control has gotten a bad rap, though. People misuse the phrase or mistreat you in their use of it. “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you have any self-control?! Just stop it! Go cold-turkey! Don’t you have any willpower? Dang, you are weak! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! Get it done! Why can’t you be like so and so?!”

Addicts know what I’m talking about. Those words don’t just come from the outside. We say them to ourselves on the inside too. Our inner dialogues are littered with these damaging phrases and attitudes. But there is hope. We can look to the Father for help. We don’t need to make any wild promises. We don’t have to give up our treasured freedom for it. We need to simply get on our knees, faithfully, daily. It will surprise you how quickly you will see results when you practice standing on your knees for this.

And isn’t a blessing that the Holy Spirit provides this fruit for us? Yeah, it’s in you. Right there with all the other fruits of the Spirit. Don’t take it for granted. Instead, explore it. Make it an archaeological hunt. You know it’s there, you just have to dig a little to see it. And then when you find a piece of it sticking up out of the ground, you can get your handy-dandy shovel and brush and expose it, little by little, day by day, until one day, God says to you, “Well done my trusty and faithful servant.”

Self-control is merely a matter of focus. “Set your mind on things above.” (Colossians 3:2) Be deliberate. Be determined. Set it in your mind that you absolutely will live in the Spirit. That you will control your body and your mind.

If you find yourself making excuses for NOT being in control, don’t judge yourself. Just reset the clock and try again in an hour. Otherwise, the thief can come in and steal your focus. Drive him out by giving yourself a break and loving the process. No one is perfect. Only Jesus. Not you. Not me. Not your spouse or your mom or dad. No one but Jesus. So, don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself a break. Try again.

A famous quote states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Another says that one step at a time will complete any undertaking. So, just take one step. And when you have firmly planted that foot on solid ground, take the next step. Before long, you will have noticed that you are getting closer to your goal and further away from where you began the journey. Taking one step is not difficult. Just do it.


The fruits of the Spirit are there for one purpose: to bring glory to God. Each fruit is a character trait that we can embody. And these fruits are easy to display. We need only to be loving, find joy in everything, be a peacemaker, work on our patience, be kind, do good, remain faithful, be gentle and walk with self-control. If we do these things, we will be ahead of the curve. We will be like Christ.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Brothers and sisters read the scriptures. Live the fruits and glorify God: our Father.

Peace. Love and Light

Eric

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-24

Fruits of the Spirit – Part 2

Today, I would like to continue our look into the fruits of the Spirit. Last time we covered the spiritual fruits of love, joy and peace. This time out we will be looking at patience, kindness and goodness.
First, let’s remind ourselves of what the fruits of the Spirit are:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-24

I remember how, in times past, I would ask the Lord for patience. People looked at me like I was crazy. They told me that I didn’t want that. That God would surely send me some terribly difficult trials in order to ‘give’ me patience. They would say, “Look what He did to Job.” I didn’t understand their fear. I still don’t understand it. Why on God’s green earth would anyone NOT want God to help me/you/us with gaining the fruits of the Spirit? How weak does your faith have to be to cower at the thought of God helping you?

I asked anyway, “God give me patience.” And he did. Some. I did not keep at it. I did not do my part. I did not exercise that fruit as I could have, so I didn’t get a lot of it. Let me back up a bit. Last time out we learned that the fruits of the Spirit are already inside us. The Holy Spirit has a treasure chest for us that contains all the fruits of the Spirit. We simply need only claim them, use them, and live them. If we don’t exercise our spiritual muscles, they will not grow. They will just atrophy and be weak. Almost useless.

To grow to be a loving person, we need to be loving. To find joy, we need to look for it in everything that is out there, to enjoy God’s peace we need only be peacemakers. It’s not so much that we are given these fruits, but it is that we need to exercise them. It’s kinda like how James says, “Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works. We have to engage. Take part. Act.

So, what about patience? Where do we find it? The ‘Dictionary of Bible Themes’ (Martin H. Manser, author) describes it thus: “The quality of forbearance and self-control which shows itself particularly in a willingness to wait upon God and his will. Believers are called upon to be patient in their expectations of God’s actions, and in their relationships with one another.”

We find patience on our knees. By waiting upon God. By slowing down and not reacting to every little ‘crisis’ that rears its head. The words ‘patience’ and ‘longsuffering’ are found over 80 times in the Bible. Mostly in the O.T. they are spoken of in relation to God’s patience. In the N.T., patience occurs 25 times and is mostly associated with a believer’s character. What this says is that with the new covenant we are to rise up and take on the character of Christ. To be Christlike is to become obedient, faithful, and humble. We must not forget we are servants of the Lord now. We need to take on His character for He is our example. When we were sinners, we behaved in a manner not unlike the sinful angel, Satan. We have a new master now – Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Nothing new here. We need to cultivate patience by looking up. When frustrations mount, we need only look to the cross and ask for help. That is the whole idea anyway. Help. We need it every day in every way. God wants to help us. He wants us to rely upon Him. And, we can always look to scripture to see how God showed His patience back then and how He shows His patience to this very day.

Consider the book of Nehemiah chapter 9. In recounting scripture there we read again how the people of God tested His patience for years on end. All the way back to the time in the wilderness, the people of God cried out and then grumbled and complained, built idols unto themselves in direct insult to the Lord Almighty. God’s patience was tested again and again and again.

Today, His patience is tested by well-meaning believers who accept the resurrection as truth, but they go and live as if they were never saved. They remain carnal, living as if they have license to abuse God’s grace. They cower at the thought of being tested for patience. This is not how we grow as Christians.

We grow by pushing, climbing, clawing to reach that next step. We are in a battle here. This is not a game. We are not merely taking the dog for a walk. We are facing the enemy each and every day. And we need patience to deal with his many tricks.

What I am wanting to get across to you is that if you or I are going to become a mature Christian and shine our light upon the world, to reflect the One True Light, then we need to be willing to cultivate EVERY fruit of the Spirit. Even patience.


Kindness is another fruit of the Spirit that requires us to stop thinking about ourselves and instead look to Christ. In fact, they all do. All the fruits ask us to look to the cross. For Christ was obedient even to the death. But, praise God He lives!

How do we cultivate kindness? It’s an attitude thing, I think. If we go through life thinking people suck, then we won’t be cultivating kindness. If we think that everybody is out there trying to scam us or use us, that too will suppress our efforts to being kind. No, we have to be selfless. We must adopt that mindset referred in Philippians 2:4.

“Not looking unto your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.”

We need to be like Christ. We should be/could be doing things for the sake of someone else. We could be living lives of sacrifice. And why not? We have everything we could ever want. We have the promise of eternal life in the presence of God. We have the guarantee of the Holy Spirit within us.

No matter what this life is like, whether we are rich or poor, tall or short, disabled or able-bodied, we are only here temporarily. We are pilgrims on a journey and our home is with Jesus. So, we need to stop being greedy with our fruits and start sharing them. Share your kindness. Give it away every day. Make a concerted effort to smile. Did you know that a smile has the same meaning in EVERY language? Try it out. The next time you see someone who is not like you, smile to them. Not at them, to them. Share it.

There are all sorts of examples in the Bible of God’s kindness and compassion. Jesus too. Here are just two:

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,
According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
Isaiah 63:7

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Matthew 9:35-38

Now we can begin to discuss the next fruit: goodness. This one is a little more difficult to verify because goodness is described as, “the state or quality of being good.” I was confused because I associated this word with righteous, as in, “there are none righteous, no not one” – Romans 3:10. But as I looked it up, I found this:

Psalms 14:2-3 – “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one”

And good means, basically, morally excellent. Now let’s look at what Jesus says:

Luke 6:43-45 – “43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

“For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” There ya go.

We do have a head start. We are grafted into the vine by Christ’s sacrifice and our accepting Him as Savior. But again, this goodness lies waiting within us by way of the Holy Spirit. We need to cultivate it. To help it grow. And we do that by keeping in the Word. Remember, we can do nothing without Him. And we will not know Him if we do not read, study, and memorize scripture.

We will either walk in the Spirit or we will walk in the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit and strive after spiritual things, then we will slowly, probably, exhibit more and more good behavior. And if we walk in the flesh there is no way we can please Him. We therefore simply must set our minds on things above and desire to be good.

Romans 8:5-8 – “5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

What do you think will be pleasing to God? That you look after your spiritual fruits and exercise them, cultivate them, or, that you profess to be Christian and yet remain carnal? We were created for a purpose. We are a holy people, created for good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Therefore, we should/could try to spend our time being like Jesus; behaving like Him, acting like Him, thinking like Him; seeing like Him, caring like Him; loving like Him. Imagine what the world would be to us if we truly worked on being like Jesus in every way? Let’s work today on cultivating patience, kindness, goodness and all the fruits of the Spirit. Let’s act like the sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.

I wish you all Peace as only Jesus can give it.

Thanks for stopping by and reading, sharing, and thinking on these things with me.

Love you

Eric

Character Building

Today’s focus is on ‘Character Building’. I want to look at some verses that discuss what we should aim to become, and what we can become if we keep our focus in the right place. First, let’s get into what Paul was telling the church at Colosse about their place in Christ…

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1,2 NKJV)

Colossians 3 discusses this quite plainly. We, as newly converted Christians, are to put off ‘earthly’ things; things from our old nature that are contrary to godliness, i.e. “sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry.”(v.3:5). These attributes are to be discarded and replaced with character traits that become godly folk. So too, should we discard, “anger, rage, wickedness, slander, abusive language.” (v. 3:8)

They’re all pretty simple to understand. No need to expand on them but for the sake of clarity let’s give examples: 1) Sexual Immorality, uncleanness and lustful passion – These involve filthy minds bent on acts of sexual behavior that might include unnatural uses for the body, sexual habits that are against what the body was made for by God. Our bodies are the temples (1 Corinthians 6:19) of the Holy Spirit and we insult God by entertaining these behaviors, sinning against ourselves and the Holy Spirit.

” Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God with your body. “(1 Cor 6:18-20 LEB)

Evil desire and greediness are equally repulsive to the Holy Spirit and to God. The desire to control everything and have everything are an affront to God because God’s grace is sufficient for us. (2 Cor 12:9) We need not fret over our lives, our situations, or our needs. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

So, we should shun our former selves because we are now to behave with godliness and holiness, if in fact we are in Christ Jesus, new creations. But what attributes do we need to desire and pursue?

Further in Colossians 3 we are told…

12 Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, 13 putting up with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone should have a complaint against anyone, just as also the Lord forgave you, thus also you do the same. 14 And to all these things add love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God, 17 and everything whatever you do in word or in deed, giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17 LEB)

Wow! That’s a lot of info. So, let’s not try and change ourselves all at once. Let’s instead, pick one character trait to work on each week for seven weeks. That’s not too hard. And living with each one for a week will help it to sink into our psyche. We can write the trait on a post-it note and place it on the bathroom mirror where we are likely to see it at least twice a day. It would be a passive but powerful reminder.

And, at the end of each week we can look back and reflect on how we succeeded in building this behavior and habit into our daily lives.

I once was homeless and what changed for me, what got me off the streets was a daily reading habit. I had come across a book by the great writer, Og Mandino, and what the daily reading had taught me was to lift up my eyes and see the good in the world and the opportunity that each day presented to me, regardless of my current situation. The book was titled, “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” and it took me a few months to pick up the book and read it. I had a negative perception of salespeople at the time and I didn’t want to read an entire book dedicated to them, but I overcame my perceptions and was delighted to find that Mandino had woven a beautiful story around some principles that anyone could adopt into their own life. These principles were hidden in ten scrolls and the secret was reading each scroll three times a day for thirty days before moving on to the next scroll.

I tell you, it was a miracle for me. And I was hungry for it. I read those scrolls more than three times a day. I was so hungry for a change.

In no time at all, my attitude changed, my perceptions of the world changed, and my fortunes changed with them. I got off the streets with a new job and a bright future. Since then I’ve never been without that book in my library. I still pick it up and read those scrolls from time to time and they are like old friends.

Well, I didn’t start today’s blog post to tell you about Og Mandino. I wrote today’s blog to tell you that we have at our disposal a whole world of possibilities because God is our everything. He is our Father, our Savior, our friend. And He wants us to live fruitful lives. And we do that by becoming what we were always meant to be – holy.

We need to start with LOVE. Notice in Colossians that love is the last thing that Paul mentions but it is the most important thing because LOVE is the completion of all the rest. Affection, kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience – they all emanate from a loving heart and spirit.

So, take these next weeks and make love the center of your being. Post notes all over the house and work on each attribute mentioned throughout the day. I feel confident that, if you stick to it, and put forth the effort, you will experience a godly kind of peace as you become the loving follower of Christ that you are meant to be.

May the Peace of Christ comfort you

Further scriptural references: Micah 6:8; 1 Cor 6:18-19; Gal 6:10; 1 Thess 5:14-15; Titus 2, 3