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.
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.
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.”
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.