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

Since we are in lockdown

Since we’re all at home for a long while, I’ve had time to explore other things. And I found a Bible Study the other day by Anne Graham Lotz. Yes, Billy Graham’s daughter. Pretty cool. I am happy that she is keeping the faith and is living her life for God.

I googled ‘Bible studies on Ephesians’ and found her site to have a free study available, so I went and looked and found what I believe to be a really good study guide.

Rather than beginning in Ephesians, Anne starts her study in Acts chapter 19 where Paul is first mentioned to be in Ephesus.

The study is simple. It’s one of her “3-Question Bible Studies”. It’s quite easy, and she lets you expand on the 3-questions deal. If you are looking for a study that is not so ‘heavy’, this would be a good one to try.

https://www.annegrahamlotz.org/3-question-bible-studies/

I’m not quite ready to write up anything on what I’ve done with it so far, but there is one verse that I’d like to share: verse 19:11 in Acts. “God was performing extraordinary miracles at Paul’s hands…”

That verse jumped out at me because it tells us that God was performing the miracles, not Paul. Paul was just the instrument through which God was performing the miracles.

That really hit me between the eyes because I had been thinking all this time that the apostle’s were doing the miracles (albeit with the power of the Holy Spirit within them). This verse clarified the hierarchy, if you will, of how miracles are performed.

Verse 12 goes on to say that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul’s skin were used to perform miracles as well. And that just opened up another idea for me that it is us but it is the power of God. The power can inhabit anything. Even a handkerchief.

How totally cool is that? God IS everywhere. And IN everything. He can be and say and do whatever He wants from wherever He wants and that just blows me away! He is worthy to be praised!!

Okay, so that’s just an appetizer for what’s to come in the next few weeks as I do this study. Really cool stuff in the books of Acts and Ephesians. Come back and see what I’ve found.

Peace

Eric