A woman at the pearly gates asked Peter, “How do I get in?”
“Spell one little word for me. Love,” he replied.
“L.O.V.E” she replied and entered.
A couple of months later, Peter needed to run some errands. He asked the woman to keep an eye on the gate for a few hours. She agreed.
Shortly thereafter, her late husband arrived at the gate.
“It’s nice to see you. How have you done since my passing?” she asked.
She expected him to say something like, “It’s been hard. Life hasn’t been the same without you.”
But what he said was much different.
“I’ve been fine. I sold that little house we had together right after your funeral and married my secretary. I won the lottery and was out traveling the world. I was actually snow skiing in Switzerland with my new wife when I fell and hit my head. That’s how I came to be here.”
So, what do I have to do to enter through the gates of heaven?
She replied, “Spell one little word for me: Czechoslovakia.”
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication,
uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, [c]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.
Galatians 5:16-22 (NKJV)
Grace that Changes Lives
In Galatians 5: 21, Paul says it plainly. Those who habitually live ungodly lives will not inherit the kingdom of God, nor will they know the wonder and glory of the kingdom of God here on earth.
Paul may sound a little harsh. You may think he’s taking a hard line here, but he is consistent with the biblical idea of “conversion.”
When we come to Jesus to have our sins forgiven and our soul saved, He also changes our lives. It doesn’t happen all at once, and we are not made perfect on this side of heaven, but there will be a real change in us.
The grace that does not change my life cannot save my soul.
This transformation in our hearts and actions comes not by our will, but by faith.
I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
Galatians 3:5 (NLT)
Because of our conversion, being born again, and becoming new creatures in Christ, we become like Him, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit begins to develop.
As Paul points out, there is a definite contrast between the carnal, worldly person and the Spirit-filled follower of Christ.
What do holiness and godliness look like? What does Christ likeness look like? It’s characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit.
This is ONE fruit being developed. It isn’t the “fruits of the Spirit are,” It is the “fruit of the Spirit is.”
What is fruit? It is the effect or consequence of an action or operation. Fruit is the result.
The Foundation and Source of Love
The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. Without love, there is no joy, and without joy, there is no gentleness.
In this one word, “love” all of the other characteristics are evident. Again, it’s not the fruits of the Spirit are; it’s the fruit of the Spirit is.
God IS Love
The fruit of the Spirit is love. God is love; He is the source of love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4: 7-8 (NKJV)
God’s Agape Love
God is love (agape). Agape is NOT emotional. It is volitional. Agape love is a choice of the will.
Notice that it doesn’t say that God loves us. It says that God IS love.
God in His character, choose to love us every day. This love isn’t based on how He feels about us or how well we did that day.
This is where love gets messed up for many of us. We loved based on how we feel, or what someone did or didn’t do for us. It’s based on how we treat us.
God cannot turn off love because He IS love.
Love, and our ability to express it by our actions is a work of God. This love demands we be truthful in a culture that has little or no use for absolutes, including truth.
God’s Love is Poured Out in Our Hearts
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5 (NKJV)
Notice how the love of God has been measured out to us. It’s not a trickle or a splash. The love of God has been poured out in our hearts!
God’s love is communicated through the Holy Spirit. Because we don’t always walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, people don’t see the love of God manifest in our lives.
This is true only on a personal level but publicly in the context of the local church.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (NKJV)
The Impact of the Church on Culture
Since the church is the dwelling place of God not exclusively but certainly. How does it contrast with the culture around it? How do you and I appear to the culture in the midst of all that is around us?
Jesus said you are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
Is your light shining for all to see or is it hidden under a basket?
Jesus also spoke of living water flowing from within us (John 7:38). We are not to be a reservoir (a place where water is stored), but a river, for the Spirit of God to flow from.
Love is the evidence of the manifestation of the Spirit of God at work in us.
Is love what people see when we are gathered together? Is this what people hear from us? The culture we live in is full of conflict and strife. Everywhere you look, contention abounds, along with the works of the flesh that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. Those things should not exist among the children of God. They are works of the flesh, and are not of the spirit.
Rooted and Grounded in Love
Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus is that they would be rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17).
It could be said that the other eight aspects of spiritual fruit listed are what love looks like in action. How easily is the Fruit of the Spirit seen among us?
To answer the question generically is one thing. Being more specific, does the congregation at Valle Vista Assembly of God walk in love? Do we break down the barriers such as race, gender, political bent, social standing, and personal history that divide us culturally?
When people enter the doors of the church here, do we treat them like they are important to us? How are we doing as a congregation? The answer lies with how we are doing individually. Then, does the sum of the parts measure up?
There are different words for love in the Greek language. The one we’re concerned with here is agape.
Agape has to do more with a decision than a spontaneous heart, because it choose to love the underserving. It is more than emotion. It’s a principle by which we are to live. It’s a deliberate effort that we can only make with the help of God to love those who hurt, insult, and humiliate us.
Agape love is to want the highest and best for those who seek the worst for us.
Love is an act of our will that includes forgiveness – with no qualifiers.
Why? For starters, this is how God has forgiven us.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NKJV)
In some cases, forgiveness may be something we find ourselves doing over and over again, for the same thing, with the same person.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21 (NKJV)
Love God and Your Neighbor
This isn’t a “start doing this and stop doing that and you’ll be right with God” message. But some reflection from time to time regarding these things is certainly in order.
Jesus said to love God and your neighbor and on these two things hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40). He also said that your love for one another will set you apart from the culture you live in. People will know that you are His followers by your love one for another (John 13:35).
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)
We say we love God, and that is reflected in our service to him. But a lot of us struggle with loving our neighbor. If you can’t love your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, then I question if you’re in the faith.
In the 1940s, Fred Craddock began serving as a missionary to India. When World War II ended, Craddock’s church wired him funds for a steamer ticket to return home. Arriving in his port of departure on Christmas day, Craddock discovered a disturbing sight. A ship of German-Jewish refugees had been allowed to temporarily dock, and these exiles had been stuffed in small spaces with no human comforts. Craddock used his money to buy pastries for as many as he could. When he informed his church, they asked, “Don’t you know they don’t believe in Jesus?” “Yes,” Craddock replied. “But I do.”
The Love Test
One way to evaluate where you are when it comes to love is to put your name in place of the word, “love,” in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NKJV)
Don’t Be Discouraged
If we understand the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 as a list of character traits we must work to develop, we may quickly become discouraged.
The growth of spiritual fruit within us is evidence of God’s transforming power in our lives. It’s not the result of the effort that we expend reading books and going to special classes. The fruit of the Spirit is a divine work of God in the life of a believer.
Change Takes Time
When a child was asked what he learned in Sunday school, he replied, “If I’m polite I go to heaven and if I’m not, I go to hell.”
No! Through faith in Christ you go to heaven, and through faith in Christ your character changes. You don’t go to heaven by acting a certain way. And change takes time. It is a work of God.
You don’t plant that orange or lemon tree in your yard to come out the next day to see it covered in fruit.
As we apply our hearts and minds to the objective means of grace God has designed, such as worship, Bible study, fellowship, and prayer, we gradually and continually grow in godliness.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
As Paul began with the works of the flesh in Galatians 5, we are to put those things away. We’re to take off the old self, and put on our new self.
Bend to the Authority of Scripture
As we allow ourselves to bend to the authority of Scripture, are attentive when the Word is taught, and engage whole heartedly in worship and prayer, then spiritual fruit develops in our lives.
But now, put all these things behind you. No more evil temper or furious rage: no more evil thoughts or words about others, no more evil thoughts or words about God, and no more filthy conversation. Don’t tell each other lies any more, for you have finished with the old man and all he did and have begun life as the new man, who is out to learn what he ought to be, according to the plan of God. In this new man of God’s design there is no distinction between Greek and Hebrew, Jew or Gentile, foreigner or savage, slave or free man. Christ is all that matters for Christ lives in them all.
Colossians 3:8-11 (JB Phillips)
As we put on the new self, we become one in Christ because He is in each of us. We see that it’s not just a personal work that happens, but the entire church is impacted by the glory of God.
When fruit trees begin to blossom, they give off a beautiful fragrance.
One thing I enjoyed about living out near the orange groves was the scent of the orange blossoms every year.
That fragrance signaled that there was life, and that fruit would be coming!
Be Imitators of God
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Children are natural imitators. They often do just what they see their parents or other adults do. When we act according to our nature as children of God, we will imitate Him.
As we do imitate God, we become representatives of God, especially before those who have shut God out of their life. “What are we sent into the world for? Is it not that we may keep men in mind of God, whom they are most anxious to forget? If we are imitators of God, as dear children, they will be compelled to recollect that there is a God, for they will see His character reflected in ours. I have heard of an atheist who said he could get over every argument except the example of his godly mother: he could never answer that.”
Walk in Love
We are to walk in love, as Christ has also loved us. In all things, Jesus is our example. As He has loved us and given Himself for us, we are to display the same kind of self-giving love.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other (Romans 12:9-10).
Before we get into the second fruit of the spirit, joy, I want to briefly touch on how fruit is produced.
Fruit isn’t achieved by working, but is birthed by abiding.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (NKJV)
The fruit we bear is a testimony of God at work here upon the earth. Where does fruit begin? It begins in the root. The fruit of the spirit is rooted in the Word of God and manifested by the Holy Spirit.
What is Joy?
Joy is not a good feeling that never leaves us like a grin that never leaves our face. It is based more on experiential knowledge, rooted in faith, rather than feelings. In contrast, happiness is based on feelings and is usually dependent on our circumstances. Joy and happiness are not the same thing.
Joy, the fruit of the spirit, is experienced in spite of our circumstances.
Therefore we do not lose heart.
Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment,
is working for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen.
For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
There is More Beyond
Columbus destroyed the belief there was “no more beyond.”
But in 1492 Christopher Columbus destroyed the belief that there was “no more beyond” when he sailed far out into the Atlantic Ocean and discovered the New World. In the town where the explorer died, there stands a monument commemorating him. On this monument there is a statue of a lion. The lion’s paw is tearing away the word “No” from the phrase “No More Beyond,” making it read “More Beyond.” Columbus had proven that there was “more beyond.”
Whether people believe it or not, there is “more beyond” this world. Heaven is a real place. So is hell. And by the grace of God, through faith in Christ we are going to the former and not the latter.
The Cause of Joy
The knowledge that there is “more beyond” causes joy to be stirred up within us!
While we struggle through this life many times in pain and discouragement, we know there is something much better on the horizon. And the things we go through, actually test and strengthen our faith! The fruit of the spirit can be further developed within us as we go through tough times!
Blessed Be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us
again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible
and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
who are kept by the power of God through faith
for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while,
if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
that the genuineness of your faith,
being much more precious than gold that perishes,
though it is tested by fire, may be found to
praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
whom having not seen you love. Though now you
do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice
with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
receiving the end of your faith—
the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)
An Attempt to Wipe Christianity from the Face of the Earth
It’s important to remember the historical background to Peter’s writing.
The church had begun some trying times, but in a year or so from the time of this writing, Caesar Nero in his insanity was on the warpath in an attempt to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth.
That coming persecution was unreal. They were reminded what it is to walk in faith. The good news is, even in the face of all they were going through, there is still plenty of reason to rejoice.
God is Working for Our Good
When going through hard times, it’s hard to see the good that can come from it. But we don’t have to see it to know it!
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.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
How do we know we love God? Our love for God isn’t based on warm fuzzy feelings. We demonstrate our love for God by walking in obedience to Him.
Sin and death no longer have dominion over us!
The truth of Romans 8:28 brings the one who believes it, who walks in it, who lives their day to day life in knowledge of this truth, joy!
This inexpressible joy comes from knowing that in addition to God working in the day-to-day, the knowledge that sin no longer has power over us! Death no longer has dominion over us!
But now that you have been set free from sin
and have become slaves to God,
the benefit you reap leads to holiness,
and the result is eternal life.
ROMANS 6:22 (NKJV)
Though now you do not see Him, yet believing,
you rejoice with joy inexpressible
and full of glory,
receiving the end of your faith—
the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9
The word translated, “Inexpressible joy” only occurs here in the New Testament. It describes a joy so profound, a joy that’s beyond what words can express.
We can’t manufacture this joy. It’ flows from God.
The believer’s joy is supernatural. It’s determined by how much nourishment Christians get from feeding on God’s Word, and whether or not they’re walking in step with the Holy Spirit.
God has provided objective means that we can use to grow spiritually. He’s given us the Bible, the great privilege of prayer, fellowship with other believers, and public worship.
He’s also provided us with subjective means to aid in our spiritual growth. For example, obeying and doing what the Bible says, being attentive to the teaching of the Word, being people of prayer, and being grateful.
Joy through the Holy Spirit
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in My love.
If you obey My Commands, you will remain in My love,
just as I have obeyed My Father's commands
and remain in His love.
I have told you this so that My joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:9 - 11
Our Joy is Found in the Truths of the Gospel
True joy does not depend on circumstances or happiness. Christians experience joy in the midst of blessings as well as in the fire of trials.
The best way to have joy is to count all your blessings.
When done with a grateful heart, joy will abound in you. Christians can also have joy in great trials. Paul, while in the midst of trials and persecutions, wrote, “…in trouble my joy knows no bounds.” ( 2 Corinthians 7:46)
Joy springs from faith.
Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Joy comes in trusting in God who controls all things and knows what is best for you.
Joy in Spite of Hardship and Heartache
As we look at what is going on around in our community and our culture around us, we see some very unhappy people. The happiness of people around us is exclusively dependent on the circumstances they find themselves in. This happiness is at best fleeting. Even in good times, there is an emptiness that goes unsatisfied.
The Christian has joy in spite of hardship and heartache. There is a gladness that is present in spite of trouble as we remember God’s goodness to us in the past.
When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
Psalm 126:1-2 (NKJV)
Times of Trouble
WE will go through times of trouble. But God! God will deliver us in the troubles. That knowledge brings us joy and we know at some point, we will be filled with laughter and sing out in joy.
Today I don’t think I need to tell you our world is broken and sick. People are probably as unhappy as they’ve ever been.
So where is this joy to be found? At the end of the day the distinguishing feature of joy is found in the Christian who can say there is only one thing that can cure the ills of man. It is knowing that Jesus of Nazareth loved me, died for me and has forgiven me.
Free of Accusation
When I am aware of my weakness and my conscience accuses me, I know I am free from accusation. And when I fail and don’t have the strength to live for Him, I am driven back to the solid rock that is Jesus Christ the source of my salvation.
This is the inexpressible joy that Peter wrote of this is part of the fruit of the Spirit we are coming to understand now.
We Cannot Manufacture Love and Joy
We cannot manufacture love and joy. What we need is a power from outside of us to come and invade our lives. The Holy Spirit. What God has been faithful to lift up in our troubles and He will do it again.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Psalm 25:3 (NKJV)
The Development of the Fruit of the Spirit
The truths the Bible teaches us about joy will prove to be very valuable over the course of our lives. Life can be very tough for many for a lot of reasons. We can think of the development of the fruit of the Spirit within us much like what goes on to produce fruit on a tree.
First, the tree has to be planted in the proper soil so the roots can take hold. In the same way, we have to have a heart willing to receive from the Lord, and be in fellowship with other Christians.
Next, the soil on top needs to be turned so water can soak to the roots. This happens by examining ourselves in light of scripture and being sensitive to the leading of God the Holy Spirit.
Third, the watering needs to be deliberate. You don’t spray water all around, but at the base of the tree. In the same way, Christians need to apply the Word properly, and do what it says.
When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,
he saved us, not because of the righteous things
we had done, but because of his mercy.
He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth
and new life through the Holy Spirit.
He generously poured out the Spirit upon us
through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Titus 3:5-6 (NLT)
As we look on the fruit of the spirit, PEACE, we’ll touch on:
Peace from God
Peace with God
Peace with Others
Some of the thoughts that I share may go unfinished, but they are consistent with the whole of what the Bible teaches about God the Holy Spirit, or the fruit of the spirit produced by God in the believer.
Hindrances to Peace
What hinders or robs us of the peace God has for us?
Disobedience to the Word of God and peace are exclusive from each other. There is no peace in disobedience to God, and there is no disobedience when there is peace.
In unwelcome circumstances, we either forget or doubt the sovereignty of God and His intentions for us.
Uncertainty about our future can also rob us of peace.
Are not two little sparrows sold for copper coin?
And yet not one of them falls to the ground
apart from your Father’s will.
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered
for the Father is sovereign and has complete knowledge.
So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Pain of Our Past
Pain of our past can also rob us of our peace. The enemy comes in and reminds us of past failures and who we used to be.
But God has taken everything from our past upon Himself. They are paid for and covered by His shed blood on the cross at Calvary. Our sin has been removed from us as far as the east is from the west. They are forgotten, as though they are thrown into the deepest, darkest sea. We are new creations in Jesus Christ! The old person we were is dead and gone! And we walk in newness of life!
But the same grace that saves us and makes us one of God’s children is the same grade that antagonizes Satan against us. He is the accuser of the brethren.
Peace from God
God is the source of peace. Apart from God, we are cut off from peace. We know no real or lasting peace apart from God.
The scriptures clearly tell us why:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God;
(we are bent away from God, by nature against Him).
Do you not know that friendship
with the world is enmity with God?
Whoever therefore wants to be a
friend of the world makes himself
an enemy of God.
Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves
in the lusts of our flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Before Christ, this was who we were. We were at odds with God, facing His wrath. Most of who reject God today don’t see themselves in the same way God sees them – wicked and rebellious, full of conflict and unrest, and facing punishment.
"I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the Lord, “And I will heal him.”
But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
“There is no peace, ”Says my God, “for the wicked.”
How Long Do Peace Treaties Last?
How long do peace treaties last on the geo-political front? We all know people who are regularly in conflict with someone. Those who constantly take the other guy’s inventory and point out their faults and short comings.
Even you and I have conflict and act in ways God describes in Isaiah.
You may say, “That’s not me!” Oh really? What about the other day when you got angry out on the road, screamed and yelled and was mad for an hour? What about that argument at work? What about what you said to your spouse and what you said about your neighbor? How about the way you are treating so and so?
I’m sorry to tell you this but God sees these things as sinful and wicked. They are the work of the flesh and come from a place of conflict and unrest. Look around at what is going on in our culture as well. There is nothing but conflict, and all of it is rooted in sin.
Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident:
they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality
(total irresponsibility, lack of self-control),
idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger,
disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies],
envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior,
and other things like these.
I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously,
that those who practice such things
will not inherit the kingdom of God.
These promote conflict and are devoid of the peace of God.
Peace with God
Peace with God is a gift from God, through faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
For it pleased the Father
that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven,
having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
God’s intention toward us is that we’d have peace.
This is God’s intention toward us butwhat the culture seems to miss is by rejecting the Lord Jesus, they make themselves an enemy of God.
You may say, “Well, God knows my heart!”
You’re absolutely right about that, and here’s what He has to say about your heart:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked: who can know it?
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed
evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders.
What God requires from those who are His enemies is unconditional surrender!
We must give Lordship of our lives over to Jesus Christ.
Peace with Others
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.
All walls are broken down in Christ. We are to apply these truths to our relationships with those around us. Through the cross we put to death anything in ourselves that would cause disunity in the body. We do not reject people based on ethnic background, on their history, political views, social standing or anything else. We are one in Christ. Where that is true there is peace!
Live Peaceably with All
If it is possible, as much as depends on you,
live peaceably with all men.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves,
but rather give place to wrath; for it is written,
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
If we walk in the Spirit, we won’t go around giving people what we think they deserve.
The way the above passage is worded tell us that peace is not always possible. In spite of that, we should pursue peace, even when we are not at fault.
It’s not up to you to get even; let God handle it.
It’s possible to be at peace with all, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
When we take matters into our own hands, we show a lack of self-control. (Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.). Taking things into our own hands also reveals a lack of faith in God, and His integrity. It shows we doubt that He will take care of us in these situations where we feel the need to respond.
When it comes right down to it, usually, the only thing that is hurt is our pride.
By the way, the coals mentioned in Romans 12:20 aren’t for punishment or torment, but conviction. The person knows how they would act if they were in our place.
Many of us live with anxiety. Other times we may be deliberately stoic. We may say, “I’m not going to let anything bother me. I’m just going to be a rock” regardless of what is going on. In that, we become even a little cynical. But we can all get stressed out about a number of things.
But God says, in Isaiah 26:3:
You will keep in perfect and constant peace
the one whose mind is steadfast
[that is, committed and focused on You—
in both inclination and character],
Because he trusts and takes refuge in You
[with hope and confident expectation].
Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)
Things don’t necessarily have to change for the better before we experience peace. Remember change and change for the better are often two different things.
In a book titled “Let’s Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage”, Lisa Beamer reflects on the loss of her dad. She says:
Slowly, I began to understand that the plans God has for us don’t just include “good things”, but the whole array of human events. The “prospering” he talks about in the book of Jeremiah is often the outcome of a bad event. ( Jeremiah 29:11 was promised to them in their captivity) I remember my mom saying that many people look for miracles- things that in their human minds “fix” the situation. Many miracles, however, are not a change to the normal course of human events; they’re found in God’s ability and desire to sustain and nurture people through even the worst situations. Somewhere along the way, I stopped demanding that God fix the problems in my life and started to be thankful for his presence as I endured them.
In Him All the Fullness Should Dwell
In Colossians 1:19 we read, “that in Him all the fullness should dwell.”
The fullness has been put into Jesus Christ. Not into a church; not into a priesthood; not into a building; not into a sacrament; not into the saints; not into a method or a program, but in Jesus Christ Himself.
It was put into Him as a “distribution point” – so that those who wanted more of God and all that He is could find it in Jesus Christ.
Peace is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit dwells within us through faith in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit takes what is of the Lord and gives it to us.
A Perfect Picture of Peace
On page 246 of the book, Stories from the Heart by Catherine Marshall, she tells the following story.
There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?
“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.
In the World You Will Have Tribulation
The peace and protection of God doesn’t exempt from situations that disrupt our peace. In John 16:33, Jesus said that in this world you will have trouble but to take heart because He has overcome the world.
Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!
Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do.
Remember that the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything;
tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for His answers.
If you do this, you will experience God’s peace,
which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts
quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 - TLB
God has pursued us who were His enemies. He’s reached out to us through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God
is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For God so loved the world that
He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish
but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world
to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.
Believers, brothers and sisters in Christ, in love, I want to remind us all that we have nothing to offer God. We have no righteousness of our own. It is only by His grace that we are saved from the penalty we deserve.
As we enjoy the peace given to us by God let us reflect on the words of our Lord Jesus Christ from the sermon on the mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.
Let us seek God in nurturing and development the fruit of the spirit, peace, in our lives and in so doing bless those around us.
As we continue on in our study of the fruit of the spirit, we’ll now look at patience.
The Holy Spirit’s Help is Only a Whisper Away
A woman observed a young father was going through the grocery store with a fussy two-year-old in a shopping cart. The woman heard the father whispering, “Be patient, Billy. Be patient. You can handle this. It’s okay, Billy. It’s alright.”
The woman interrupted the father and said, “I just had to tell you what a loving and wonderful father you are to little Billy.“
And he said, “Actually, I’m Billy. This is my son, Patrick.“
The point here is that the Spirit is available to us and willing to whisper thoughts of love and joy and peace and patience to us in every moment of our lives. Even right here, right now.
God, the Holy Spirit is more than willing, ready, and able to meet us right where we are. All we have to do is stop, ask, listen, and then act on what we hear by the Spirit, or through the Word of God.
As the Holy Spirit leads us, we want to follow behind him, rather than going off our own direction. This includes walking in the fruit of the Spirit.
We All Fall Short in Following God
I am regularly challenged or reminded of how far I fall short in following God.
I had an experience this past week. I got a phone call rather late at night from my son. He needed my help. I was quite put with him for good reason. But I was very impatient with him. I said some things that needed to be said, but not in the tone or volume level. It was also the wrong time to say those things.
So when it comes to patience, I don’t come from the perspective of having it all figured out. I don’t walk in patience all the time. But it’s something I’m asking God to work out in my life.
There have been a number of situations even in this past week with brothers and sisters in Christ. I wanted to let them have it. But as I looked at the Scriptures, it was clear that my attitude wasn’t from God.
This sermon challenges me, as much as it might challenge some of you.
Abiding in the Vine
Earlier we touched on the fruit of the Spirit being developed in us by abiding in the vine. we talked about it being developed in us by abiding in the vine.
As we seek the Lord, we can ask Him for the fruit of the Spirit to grow and flourish in our lives. But it develops over time, as God tries us and grows us again and again.
Patience is a character trait found in our Father God. It is manifest in us through the Holy Spirit. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is a quality and characteristic of God Himself. The Holy Spirit works it in us.
What Patience Looks Like
Patience is demonstrated when we have the ability to sit back and wait for an expected outcome without experiencing anxiety, tension, or frustration. We know there will be a particular outcome, a yes or no answer to things like the results of a medical test, a job application, or a potential home purchase.
Patience is being able to wait on the Lord, without knowing ahead of time the answer. It’s freedom from anxiety and tension, and when we do get the answer, we don’t get frustrated with the answer.
Patience is also the ability to let go of our desire for immediate gratification.
Patience is a trait that demonstrates understanding and acceptance toward others who are slower than you, and less mature spiritually.
Patience is the ability to remain calm in the midst of turmoil.
Patience is the ability to remain calm in the midst of turmoil. Why? Because we know God is in control and at work at all things.
And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed,
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,
longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.
Exodus 34: 6 (NKJV)
These truths about God are often repeated throughout the Old and New Testament.
Dealing With Passive Aggressive Behavior
We all know what it’s like to deal with people who have a short fuse and are offended and outraged by a perceived wrong.
Sometimes anger can be expressed in very quiet ways, through what psychologist call passive aggressive.
The Bible describes this in a couple of ways. Consider, for example, this passage in the book of Proverbs.
A man with hate in his heart may sound pleasant enough,
but don't believe him; For he is cursing you in his heart
though he pretends to be so kind his hatred will finally
come to light for all to see
Proverbs 26: 24-26
Pain on the Inside
When we lived up in Idyllwild we had wood that I needed to split for firewood.
I was cutting this particular piece of wood one day and found something very interesting. As you can see, on the outside it looks like it’s been growing fairly naturally. There’s really nothing unusual about it. But when I split it open, and the inside was exposed, look at what’s there.
There are a couple of nails there that someone had pounded into the tree, obviously years ago.
We can be like this. On the outside, everything looks normal. Everything looks okay. But on the inside, something different is going on. We know the nails were driven into the tree for some reason. The nails are unhealthy for the tree.
People can have issues in their lives, where someone has come into their life and wounded them deeply. People grow, and move on in their lives. Outwardly things look okay, but the pain and woundedness is still there.
We need to be mindful of and patient with people with passive aggressive behavior toward us.
Distribution Systems of God’s Love
How often has your anger taken you to a place you don’t want to go? I know it’s happened with me. Unchecked anger can get out of control.
In Ephesians 4, we see we are to do the opposite.
with all lowliness and gentleness,
with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
Longsuffering means to be slow to anger. Erwin puts it this way:
“Not merely adequate, but abounding is this great God of glory. He has barns and silos full of love and faithfulness; he is stacking it in the streets looking for a distribution system.”
Demonstration of God’s Patience
One way God’s patience is demonstrated toward us is in His forgiveness toward us.
13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor,
and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy
because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant,
with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering,
as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him
for everlasting life.
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:13-17
Let’s look at 1 Timothy 1:16 out of the Living Bible.
But God had mercy on me
so that Christ Jesus could use me as an example
to show everyone how patient he is
with even the worst sinners,
so that others will realize that they, too, can have everlasting life.
1 Timothy 1:16 (TLB)
Walking in Forgiveness
When we’re impatient and unkind toward unbelievers, what hope do we have of leading them to Jesus Christ? We need to find the balance between laying truth on the table, and being loving and patient. We need to allow the fruit of the Spirit to flow through our lives.
In it, we’re reminded to forgive and have compassion on others in the same way God has forgiven and had compassion on us.
Patience that works forgiveness is incumbent on us as believers. I’m not saying that we have to set ourselves up to be hurt in the same way again. But unforgiveness is bondage, and God is able to help us walk in forgiveness even in the face of the most wounded heart. Forgiveness will set you free from things you didn’t even know you were in bondage to.
How God Brings Patience Out in Us
God sometimes brings patience out in us through trials.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4 But let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James regards trials as inevitable. Notice that it’s not “if” but “when” trials comes.
In this passage, the Greek word for trial is the same word used for temptation. God uses trials to refine us. But Satan will use them as a temptation to get us to act contrary to what God would have us do.
But if we’re truly reconciled to God’s Word, we can believe that there are reasons for the trials, and that they even have benefits. Trials may stink, but they help us grow spiritually, so there’s something good in them for us.
The Greek word for patience has more to do with the patient endurance of finishing a marathon, hanging in there and pressing forward to the finish line. It’s not about waiting stoically in line at the DMV. There’s activity on our part. It’s moving forward in faith in the midst of trials.
Let Patience Have its Perfect Work
God says to let patience have its perfect work. Our faith is purified in the fiery trials that burn away the dross.
A common illustration of this is when a silversmith puts silver into the fire and melts it down into liquid. All of the impurities rise to the top and are scraped off. When the silversmith can see his reflection in the silver, he knows the silver has been purified, and his work is done.
This is what God wants to do in us. He wants to work patience in us so that people can see God’s reflection in our behavior, speech, and actions.
Another word for perfect is complete. You can’t be a complete, fully mature Christian without patience.
Trials are Inevitable
Trials are inevitable. They come to try us, and retry us, and prove and reprove us. Our growth in the trial is based on how we respond to the trial. Do we become bitter, or do we have joy, knowing God is giving an opportunity to grow.
God is more concerned with outcome than circumstances. God will require us to wait sometimes so that patience can develop in our lives.
We often can’t see what God is working within us through our trails, but as we journey on and as we trust Him and actively persevere through the trial, we begin to see what God is up to. But we have to be willing to move forward in faith in spite of what we can see. Arguing with God is like a blind person trying to tell a trail guide which direction to go.
The farmer continues to work, unable to see what’s happening beneath the soil. He doesn’t see the fruit until time of harvest.
We need to continue to be faithful and endure patiently, even though we can’t see the fruit.
Impatience Leads to Loss
In 1897, a man by the name of Pearle Wait wore many different hats. He dabbled in all kinds of things. In the midst of his tinkering, he came upon the idea of mixing fruit flavoring with gelatin. He wasn’t making much money, so when Frank Woodward offered him $450 for the idea, Wait happily sold.
Woodward understood the need for patience, and in eight years, he turned that $450 investment into a million dollar product.
Pearle Wait’s family missed out on the profits of a million boxes of Jello that are sold every single day.
The bottom line is that patience pays in many ways, both in the here and now, as well as eternally.
A country church was having their annual revival meeting. On the first night the preacher preached a message about repentance and the need to return to the Lord. At the altar call, a man came down the aisle saying, “Fill me Lord, fill me”.
The next night the preacher challenged the congregation with the need to totally surrender their lives to Christ in complete obedience. Again, the altar call was extended; like the night before the same man came down the aisle saying “Fill me Lord, fill me”.
The third night of the revival preacher warned his congregation of the evils of sin and urged the congregation to live lives of holiness. Again, at the invitation was made to give one’s life to Christ, the same man came up the aisle saying “Fill me Lord, fill me”.
To which someone in the back of the church yelled; “Don’t do it Lord, He leaks!”
The truth of the matter is we all leak a little
Paul taught the work of the Holy Spirit is progressive, yet we still need to be mindful of our constant need to be filled and refilled again with the power and influence of God the Holy Spirit. We all need to measure our progress against what the scriptures say and what was demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ.
Living According to What We Say We Believe
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
The passage above points out things that are proper for sound doctrine. The idea behind speaking the things which are proper for sound doctrine has to do with right living, not just right thinking.
The Living Bible translates this as, “Speak up for the right living that goes along with true Christianity.” The New Living Translation says, “Promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching.”
The Bible Tells Us How to Live
We can’t get around it. The Bible is a book that tells us how to live. It is the height of hypocrisy to say that we believe its truth if we ignore how it tells us to live our lives. We don’t always like it, but we always need to hear how God expects us to live.
Jesus was counterculture and counter to the religious establishment. He made this clear in statements like:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
-Matthew 5:43-44 (NJKV)
There Are No Loopholes in the Fruit of the Spirit
We can mistakenly think there are loop holes to what our Lord has commanded us. We think we can use our BIG BUT to get around these hard sections of scripture:
But you don’t know how much that hurt
But they lied
But they were unfair
But you don’t know what they said
Jesus would say to you, “But nothing. I know all about those things.”
Living with one foot in and one foot out of the faith does nothing for you eternally and does nothing to declare to the culture what it is you say you believe.
We share the good news but there can be a disconnect between how we live and interact, with what we proclaim.
The good news and good deeds should go hand in hand.
And when this happens, we make the gospel attractive.
but they are a living testimonial
to the teaching of God our saviour.
Titus 2:10 (JB Phillips)
In this way they will make people
want to believe in our Savior and God.
Titus 2:10 (The Living Bible)
I don’t think I need to tell you how ugly people are to one another today. People canceling (or blackballing as it used to be called in times past) for expressing opinions that others don’t share.
Discourse regarding public health, debate in the political realm and discussions on morality are more and more contentious and divisive and while the child of God is to take a stand for righteousness, he is not to be unkind or belligerent when speaking out against the things that are contrary to God.
When we use the same tone as the culture, we fail to reveal the attractiveness of the gospel.
I would say a cursory look at the public preaching of Jesus had more to do with the faults of the religious establishment and a person’s relationship with God than they did the cultural issues of the day.
When the individuals live in harmony with God, the community lives in harmony.
We see a lack in the former, so we don’t see much of the latter; by and large our culture rejects God the Father and His Son. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to turn entire nations, but the so-called witness for Jesus can be detrimental to the cause of Christ.
During the Spanish conquest of Mexico under Hernando Cortez in the early 1500s, a resistance leader named Hatney was captured after a fierce battle and sentenced to be burned alive. After tying him to the stake, his captors urged him to become a Christian so that at his death his soul might be given an entrance into heaven. He asked his tormentors if they expected to go to this place. On being told that they did, he cried out, “Then I will not be a Christian, for I would not again go to a place where I would find men so cruel!”
There are actually people out there who want nothing to do with heaven!
They base this on their experience with people who call themselves Christians yet look nothing like Christ. They may also have false information or impressions without even investigating what our faith is all about.
Standing for the Gospel, rejecting culture, and making the gospel attractive through our manner of life is impossible without the indwelling and influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The bible helps us understand how a believer’s actions toward others are to reflect the character of Christ Who dwells within us.
As the Holy Spirit grows His fruit within our hearts, the kindness and goodness we increasingly demonstrate draws others toward the Gospel.
All nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are evidence of abiding in Christ.
The Distinction Between Kindness and Goodness
When Paul makes a list and uses two words that could be considered synonymous, in this case kindness and goodness, it seems reasonable that there is a distinction between the two.
Vines expository dictionary defines goodness as “to be and do good.”
We are going to look at goodness as being active, and kindness in terms of disposition. Kindness is a core element, and goodness is the expression of it.
Kindness and goodness are both rooted in the character of God.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
The Difference Between Kindness and Lovingkindness
A children’s Sunday school class was asked her class if they knew the difference between kindness and loving kindness. Little Mary girl said she knew the difference. She told the teacher that kindness is like when you ask your mother for some toast and she gives it to you, but loving kindness is when you ask your mother for some toast and she gives it to you with butter and jelly on it. God shows his loving kindness toward us when not only does He forgive our sin He cleanses us from all unrighteousness, not only does He give us eternal life but He adopts as His own children and gives us an inheritance!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
God comes to us not trying to force or coax us with threats of judgement, but He comes to us in goodness and kindness knowing full well our situation in light of who He is. Jesus said of the Father in Luke 6:34- For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
God’s kindness is not influenced by anyone’s gratitude or ingratitude God’s character is shown in the character of Jesus.
But when the kindness and the love
of God our Savior toward man appeared,
not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy He saved us.
Knowledge of this should help soften our hearts and till the soil of our souls so that this fruit of spirit, Kindness and Goodness, would be more readily developed in us by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
This kindness and goodness should be a part of who we are, just as it is a part of who God. Kindness and goodness through the work of the Holy Spirit should be in us and expressed to others in our everyday lives. It shouldn’t be regulated by how others respond it.
Christ in you can open the spiritual eyes and ears to the reality of Christ.
But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners do the same.
And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.
But love your enemies, do good, and lend,
hoping for nothing in return;
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High.
For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Luke 6:32-34 32
The First Listed Fruit of the Spirit
Inevitably, the first word in the list of the fruit of the Spirit is love. Paul might well have contented himself with that word alone. Many of attributes that follow are special manifestations of love: patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. And the others are not far removed: joy, peace, self-control.
All are the consequence of the one who dies to self, that looks away from itself to God.
This can be very challenging cant it? Because we are all self- centered to one degree or another.
There are times when we have tried to be kind and do good and it doesn’t go well. We find ourselves saying something to the effect of, “Well I’m not doing that again they didn’t even say thank you.”
We’re not talking about kindness and goodness as an opportunistic exercise. In other words, just being nice to those who are not offensive to us, can be found anywhere But kindness and goodness as character traits are woven into the grace of God.
Kindness and goodness as character traits are woven into the grace of God.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
and that you put on the new man
which was created according to God,
in true righteousness and holiness.
Leaving a Legacy of Kindness and Goodness
Goodness is kindness demonstrated. This demonstration will be at least part of our legacy. For some, it will be our only legacy.
Long after we’re gone, people will remember how we treated them.
From where I stand kindness and goodness are usually reserved for those nearest to us. And understandably so, we are living in a cultural climate where very few good deeds go unpunished.
But that is not what we are called to. The kindness the Holy Spirit has worked in us should be extended to strangers and evident to even our enemies.
And on that day when we stand before Jesus Christ to be examined for the things done while in the body, what will we be rewarded for? Jesus said whatever you did for the least of these you did for Him. Kindness and goodness are things that have a temporal as well as an eternal impact.
By nature, we reject God with hearts of stone but by grace the seeds of His goodness and kindness toward us have been sown into us and soften our hearts toward Him. It is the work of God that produces the fruit of the spirit in the life of the believer. We also grow at the same time in devotion to God and likeness to His Character.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
When Paul wrote of faithfulness as part of the fruit of the Spirit, he meant loyalty and trustworthiness toward God and toward others.
Faithfulness is revealed in the character of God, exemplified in the Son of God, and cultivated in the lives of God’s children. The fruit of the Spirit is sown into our lives through His Word and while we are responsible for the condition of the soil, it is God, the Holy Spirit, who causes those seeds to grow.
The fruit of the spirit is grounded in the character of God.
Your Love O lord reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
God’s Unlimited, Unchanging Faithfulness
Unlike human beings God’s faithfulness is unlimited and is unchanging James 1 tells us that there is no variation with God, no shadow of turning.
Think about the faithfulness of God in your own life. Where would you be today if it were not for his faithfulness? He closed a door there and opened a door here.
First Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. There is no telling where we’d be without the faithfulness of God.
In 2 Timothy 1:13-2:13, we see the contrast between faithfulness and unfaithfulness. Some turned away, but Paul asked for mercy and blessing on Onesiphorus who stayed with and even searched Paul out to help him. This is somewhat similar to what we’ve been speaking about in this series regarding the contrast between true Christianity and the culture in which we live.
The follower of Christ goes out of their way to honor God through their actions and attitudes.
Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 16
The culture looks around to see who else is getting involved before they help. Helping many times becomes a social event and an opportunity to be seen rather than a genuine act of compassion for those being helped.
When a Christian is asked, “Why are you doing this?” Hopefully, the answer is something like, “Because I love Jesus and He loves you!”
Commit to Faithful Men and Women
And the things that you have heard
from me among many witnesses,
commit these to faithful men
who will be able to teach others also.
– 2 Timothy 2:2
Paul said to commit the things you heard to faithful men. Paul didn’t say
Good-looking men. . .
Smart men. . .
Articulate men. . .
Strong men. . .
Paul told Timothy to find FAITHFUL MEN to pour into that they might do the same, men who are able to teach others.
The Ripple Effect
Just as Paul trained and taught Timothy those whom he had trained must also be given the job to teach others also. What are they teaching? Well for starters what we learn from the apostles’ writings and the words of Jesus about who God is what He desires from us and how that plays out in every aspect of our lives.
When we say teach, the classroom, is many times our day-to-day encounters with one another as we live life, as well as gathering together with our bibles open. taking what we read in the bible and making use of it.
Don’t Be a Quitter
Along with passing along what we have learned , part of being faithful is not giving up when trouble or challenges come.
Paul says to endure hardship like a soldier of Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy. Living for the Lord isn’t easy. But a soldier doesn’t walk away. Rather, he or she musters courage and endures.
The battle rages, is hand to hand, and is uphill at times. The good news is, we do battle from a place of victory not defeat.
Expect to Endure Hardship
Timothy must take the attitude of a soldier who expects to endure hardship for their cause. We do a great disservice to people when we promise that giving their life to Christ will make life easier. Many times, that is when the battle begins.
Life can be tough but there is great hope and promise in our future!
No good soldier ever gave up simply because some hardship came to them.
The Ambush of John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell, lost his arm in the Civil War. This, however, did not stop him from becoming a hero.
“Back in 1869 conventional wisdom said that passage through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River was impossible. It couldn’t be done. The back country surrounding the Grand Canyon oozed with legends of doomed expeditions. No one had ever dared that stretch of river and come out alive. Out of all expeditions that had given it their best shot, there was not one survivor.
One army lieutenant who has explored the Colorado just on the southern side of the Grand Canyon believed that powerful river so treacherous that ‘the Colorado, along the greater part of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.’ (If you saw the River Wild, the rapids shown in the movie were a class nine rapids, which looked like a sprinkler next to these rapids).
But the one-armed explorer thought he could pull it off.
On May 24, 1869, Powell and a party of nine stepped into their four small boats to attempt the thousand-mile journey. Along the way, their party encountered numerous ambushes.
They were ambushed by killer rapids.
They were ambushed by waterfalls.
They were ambushed by boulders the size of cabins.
They were ambushed by the loss of boats, critical foodstuffs, and instruments.
Yet one hundred days later, Powell and five men emerged from two boats. All hope for their survival had been given up weeks before. They were suffering from exposure and near starvation. But they made it.
Unwilling to Endure Hardship
What happened to the other four men? One decided to go back. The other three, after numerous disagreements with Powell, left the expedition. They hiked to the rim of the Canyon…only to be killed by Indians.”
I see similarities here in the context of the church.
In the same way, if a believer is unwilling to endure hardship, they will never accomplish much for Jesus Christ.
They will give up as soon as something hard is required of them. They don’t like the calls the lead is making, or it proves to much of a personal commitment.
Quitters (actually deserters if we are in the army of Christ) cannot fulfill Jesus’ call:
If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Enduring hardship can take on a lot of different looks:
Being treated unfairly
Maybe doing without some comforts that others seem to enjoy
Rejection by those around you because of faith in Christ
And what about the ministry you have been entrusted with? Do you get to quit just because it is hard?
Keep Both Hands on the Plow
But Jesus said to him,
“No one, having put his hand to the plow,
and looking back,
is fit for the kingdom of God.”
There are two primary things to know about plowing.
First, the farmer has to keep looking forward to keep his rows straight. If he looks back, there’s no telling where he’ll end up!
Likewise, we must keep our eyes on Jesus!
Second, the farmer must keep both hands on the plow. We also need to hold on to Jesus, and pay attention to him.
Plowing is Mundane
Notice that the farmer’s work in plowing and is done alone. But if this work is not done faithfully and diligently, there will be no harvest.
How faithfully are we serving the Lord?
Farmers and Soldiers
Each of us are ministers. And ministry has similarities to farming and being a soldier. This is why they’re used as illustrations for us.
Farming and being a soldier require all the things that deem one faithful: trustworthiness, reliability, diligence, endurance, selflessness, courage and the like.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope
for He who promised is faithful;
Stop and think of all of our Lord endured to secure our souls and light our path on our journey home.
Be of good courage! He will keep His promises to us.
How Will the Worldwide Church Continue?
Question: without faithful believers, how will the worldwide church continue? And how will our congregation grow?
Answer: By the grace of God working through faithful spirit filled believers. We each have a part to play in the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ and it is important we stay faithful to what God has called us to.
Never tire of loyalty and kindness.
Hold these virtues tightly.
Write them deep within your heart.
Proverbs 3:3 - TLB
We’ve touched on God’s faithfulness to us and our faithfulness to God. What does our testimony to those around us say of our faithfulness and commitment?
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’
For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
The Covenant of Faithfulness
Don’t write checks your body can’t cash. Don’t make a promises then bail out because it becomes inconvenient for you because something better came along.
Unfaithfulness is widely accepted in our culture but when we when we keep our word, and are faithful to our commitments to our family and those in the community, we contrast the attitude of the culture.
The Covenant of Faithfulness
In modern times we define a host of relations by contracts.
These are usually for goods or services and for hard cash. The contract, formal or informal, helps to specify failure in these relationships.
The Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the church. He created a covenant. There is a difference. Contracts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let us say, a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the house and inquire, “Where were you? Why didn’t you show up for your appointment?” He simply goes on to his next patient and has his appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the doctor. He broke an informal contract.
According to the Bible, however, the Lord asks:
Can a mother forget the baby
at her breast
and have no compassion
on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
A Biblical View of Covenants
The Bible indicates the covenant is more like the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor’s appointment.
If a child fails to show up for dinner, the parent’s obligation, unlike the doctor’s, isn’t canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he’s cared for. The child’s failure does not destroy the relationship.
A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. It is the unconditional commitment to love and serve.
This is what the Fruit of the Spirit should look like in the life of the believer because it is the faithfulness revealed in the character of God, exemplified in the Son of God and is cultivated in the child of God.
God’s faithfulness is unconditional – as ours should be.
For those of you who are single, be faithful in your singleness. Be faithful to your future spouse.
For those of you who are married, be faithful in your marriage.
As parents, be faithful. Don’t give up on your kids. And kids, take care of your parents when it is their time. And the one thing we will want to hear from our Lord is : ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Notice it is not successful, rich, smart, big, strong, talented, good looking, beautiful, charming, it is the faithful servant who received praise and entered into his masters joy.
The faithful believer is one who can be positively depended upon, who is faithful in the least things as well as the greatest. A faithful believer’s life and character are true through and through, and gives out a light in this world which honors Christ and blesses others.
What kind of a light are you giving out? Are you bringing honor the name of the Lord by walking in faithfulness ?
A woman texts her husband on a cold winter’s morning: “Windows frozen, won’t open.” Husband texts back: “Gently pour some lukewarm water over it and gently tap edges with hammer.” Wife texts back 5 minutes later: “Computer really messed up now.”
Our conversations can really take us places we don’t really don’t to go can’t they? Miscommunication of the gospel message in word or deed is to be avoided at all costs. But with the help of God, the Holy Spirit, we can be strong and gentle in our communication and treatment of those who are against us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
In the passage above, some of your translations may use the word meekness in the place of gentleness.
But the wisdom that is from above– the opposite of earthly wisdom us heavenly wisdom, true wisdom that comes from God.
Do not forsake wisdom,
and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
What is Wisdom and Why is it Relevant to Gentleness?
First wisdom is ‘pure’-with right motives and without moral corruption. Next it is ‘peaceable’ is not contentious and divisive.
As wisdom is ‘gentle’ it puts others and the concerns of others before self. ‘Willing to yield’ is giving way to what is most beneficial for others. We don’t give way to things that are detrimental. We don’t yield or give way to people when they are headed the wrong direction. Instead, we gently correct.
But as we all know we entered into a season in our nation where people are demanding their brand of justice, “social justice.” But justice is just justice. It doesn’t need an adjective. And this so-called justice is morally corrupt. It is a systemic attempt to dismantle democracy and establish socialism.
How can a system that seeks group people together based on skin color, to judge people and punish people, who are made in the image of God based on their immutable characteristics morally just?
That is not justice. It is evil. The ones involved in this are guilty of what they are in fact accusing us as a nation of. And unfortunately, this false narrative has creeped into the church and is causing division.
A Gentle Dogmatism
“We have gotten accustomed to the blurred puffs of gray fog that pass for doctrine in churches and expect nothing better. From some previously unimpeachable sources are now coming vague statements consisting of a milky mixture of Scripture, science, and human sentiment that is true to none of its ingredients because each one works to cancel the others out.
Little by little Christians these days are being brainwashed. One evidence is that increasing numbers of them are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe, but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear definition. Moral power has always accompanied definite beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that lives and abides forever.”
The wisdom that is from God is actively gentle, compassionate, forgiving, impartial, consistent, sincere, genuine and without hypocrisy.
Gentleness Demonstrated by Jesus
This gentleness is demonstrated to us by God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
And Your right hand upholds me;
And Your gentleness makes me great.
When we understand that God’s gentleness turns us away from sin and toward Him we become great in the kingdom of God and we learn from God’s gentleness.
A bruised reed He will not break
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
Isaiah 42:3 (NKJV)
The Message puts it this way:
He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant.
In context, religious burdens in principle, rest from things that burden us, that are not of God. Trying to be hard and show everyone how strong and determined we are, can be more trouble than it’s worth and is a burden God doesn’t intend for us.
When we look to God and see all powerful and mighty God, we also see a gentle God. We see power under control.
Ask God to Make You Gentle
Have you ever asked God to make you gentle? Wisdom from God would make such a request. God, through His word and the active work of the Holy Spirit is attempting to work gentleness in each of us right now.
Have you asked in prayer, “Oh Lord create in me a gentle spirit”?
I would say most of us have not. Why? Possibly because gentleness mostly is misunderstood as spinelessness or weakness.
In God’s economy gentleness is anything but that.
A wild horse can actually kill you. They are extremely strong and fast. A horse that is brought under control is not at all made weak because it has been trained. But that strength has been contained for its master’s use.
"All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful to teach us
what is true and to make us realize
what is wrong in our lives.
It corrects us when we are wrong
and teaches us to do what is right."
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
Trained by the Word of God
We must allow ourselves to be trained by the Word of God.
In our ego driven culture meekness or gentleness are not considered desirable traits. But these traits are clearly demonstrated in God the Father and also in His Son, and are the Fruit of The Holy Spirit.
Now that I am old and gray,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Psalm 71:18 NLT
What Gentleness Looks Like
What does gentleness look like? How is it demonstrated?
A gentle answer turn a away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Many times we mirror the emotions of those we are face to face with.
Being defamed, we entreat.
We have been made as the filth of the world,
the offscouring of all things until now.
1 Corinthians 4:1
To say Paul had a rough time with people because of his conversion to Christ is the understatement of the millennium. He was bounced from town to town, he was beaten and jailed and the object of a murder plot.
Titus 2:8 says we are to usesound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
Isaiah 53 said of Jesus – He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
It is a real temptation to unload on someone verbally for some unkind thing they have said to us or about us.
I point these scriptures out because like our Lord and many that have served Him, the more successful we are, and the more influence we have, the more critics we will have and people who will try to malign us.
Normal people don’t like to fight and argue, but there are people who are addicted to strife. They feel so depressed and lousy about themselves, they need to get angry to feel better.
On the other hand, Titus 3:2 tells us,
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities,
to obey, to be ready for every good work,
to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable,
gentle, showing all humility to all men.
Resist the Temptation to Sling Mud
We are to keep from talking about people in a derogatory way. Regardless of how they talk about us, we are to resist the temptation to sling mud back at them.
I know there are those who don’t speak well of me and that’s ok because Jesus himself said beware when all men speak well of you.
We get over it and know that we are in best company you can be in.
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Submit to God
A person with a gentle spirit is one who is submitted fully to God and will blessed for it.
Blessed are the gentle in spirit
for they shall inherit the earth.
But the meek (gentle) shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
I agree with “nothing is won by force” People can be bullied into submission but that is not winning them. Things can be taken unfairly, but that does not make them ours.
I’ve witnessed many a spouse or parent bully a family member into submission, but that lacks the work of the Holy Spirit and is temporary at best.
A Contrast Between Followers of Jesus and Unbelievers
Over the weeks we have talked about there being a contrast between the true follower of Christ and the unbeliever, and a clear distinction between the church gathering together and any other group that gathers.
We are children of God. We are His representatives, wherever we go and in whatever we do. In these things we are to walk in the fruit of The Holy Spirit. This doesn’t come naturally. It takes a work of God the Holy Spirit in us.
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel
but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
in humility correcting those who are in opposition,
if God perhaps will grant them repentance,
so that they may know the truth,
and that they may come to their senses
and escape the snare of the devil,
having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26
We are to be gentle if we are going to win people to the Lord ! We won’t do anything for Jesus if we act and sound like the culture we live in. There no need for a undercover Christian; just the opposite is needed.
A minister was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.
The group had surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked, “What are you doing with that dog?”
One of the boys replied, “This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So, we’ve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.”
Of course, the reverend was taken aback. “You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!” he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten-minute sermon against lying, beginning, “Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie?” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.”
There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he’d gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, “All right, give him the dog.”
God Doesn’t Will Legalism
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty: Paul begins Galatians chapter 5 with “stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.”
If we live in bondage to a legal relationship with God, it isn’t because God wills it. God pleads with us to take His strength and live in freedom, and to not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
People will go from being set free from the bondage of sin to going back into the bondage of legalism trying to be good enough or do enough to earn salvation. Or they end up in bondage by trying to live for the Lord in their own strength.
Jesus said, come to me
and find rest for your soul- ( Matthew11:29)
John wrote, For the Law was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
Paul has made the point over and over again; the Christian life is a life of liberty. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to keep them in bondage or put them in bondage all over again.
It is worth asking if people see us as people of freedom and liberty. Often, Christians are seen as people more bound up and hung up than anyone else. But the Christian life is also one of commitment.
I struggle at times in walking in the fruit of the Spirit. And to trying and fix myself isn’t going to happen. Yes, I can drop bad habits and pick up new ones, but the inward change that that needs to take place to have the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in my life is a work of God through the washing of the Word and the work of God the Holy Spirit. My only part in it all is to submit myself to God in all of it.
The Battle is Real
Yet a battle continues between our spirit person, the world, the flesh, and Satan. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: Walking in the Spirit is the key, but it doesn’t always come easily. Often, it is a battle. There is a battle going on inside the Christian, and the battle is between the flesh and the Spirit.
As Paul writes, these are contrary to one another – they don’t get along at all. When the flesh is winning the inside battle, you do not do the things that you wish. You don’t live the way you want to; there is no joy and peace.
We are impatient and unloving. We are hard and abrasive instead of gentle. Our motives are selfish and lack goodness and we are unfaithful to that we have committed ourselves to. All these things are evidence you live under the flesh instead of under the Spirit.
What Lack of Self-Control Looks Like
Today we are looking at the fruit of the spirit as self-control.
When we overeat, we lack self-control.
When we procrastinate, putting things off to the last minute and are in a rush to get it done, we lack self-control.
If we stay up late watching tv or surfing the internet when need to go to sleep because we have work in the morning, we lack self-control.
When we constantly work and don’t take a sabbath’s day rest, we lack self-control.
Even though the old man was crucified with Christ and is dead and gone (Romans 6:6), his influence lives on through the flesh, and he will battle against us until we experience God’s final antidote to the flesh: a resurrection body.
When we give into temptation, we are telling God, “You’re not enough for me, and I need something else to satisfy my desires.” That is the old man talking.
Until then the only remedy for the flesh, is the Spirit; the law can do nothing to help us.
There is a part we play in all this and that is to submit to the Word of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What the Culture Knows of Self-Control
What the culture knows of self-control usually is for the benefit of self. But the fruit of the Spirit, self-control is for the benefit of other as well.
We can be at one of two extremes in this: anything goes. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes who said, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired” (2:10). And the other extreme where we say no to everything, relying on self-effort.
The Nature of Self-Control
Remember we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit. We can have outside moral influences that condition how we respond to things and in our own self effort just say no. And that may work for awhile, but it does nothing to weaken those sinful desires in each of us.
There is a constant battle going on between the spirit and the flesh. In this is a sort of tug of war between what God desires for us and what we want to do. There are areas of our lives that are more or less in control than others.
Think about some of the things that Paul mentioned in Galatians 5: 19-21 describing the works of the flesh. He mentions sexual immorality; cheating on your spouse or sex out of wedlock. The uncleanness talked about here can include impure motives. The word sorcery is the word is Pharmacia and is not limited to idolatrous witchcraft, but also the use of conscience altering drugs.Read Galatians 5:19-21 to see the entire list.
Participation in the things mentioned here are indicative of a lack of self-control. In them we attempt to find satisfaction in things that are not beneficial to us and are not God’s intention for us. Like legalism, they are bondage, making us a slave to whatever it is that satisfies our fleshly desires.
Edmund Burke agrees with God that those who lack self-control place themselves in chains.
An addict or alcoholic is in a self-imposed imprisonment. They are cut off from family and friends, and any potential for their life has at best been put on hold.
When we deny God by giving into the sinful nature, the flesh, we actually cut our selves off from the good things God desires for us.
Stay Within the Boundaries
Self-control is the God-given ability to avoid excesses.
The fruit of the spirit self-control is the God given ability to avoid excesses and stay within the boundaries that God has given us.
We can develop the skill to do what is right in the sight of God despite our desires.
A prudent man sees evil and hides himself and avoids it,
But the naive [who are easily misled]
continue on and are punished
[by suffering the consequences of sin].
Proverbs 27:12 (AMP)
Like a city that is broken down
and without walls [leaving it unprotected]
Is like a man who has no self-control over his spirit
[and sets himself up for trouble].
Proverbs 25:28 (AMP)
As believers we want to protect ourselves from things that war against our soul.
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims,
abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:11
In 1 Peter 2:12, Peter goes on to say- “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles.” This kind of godly living makes our conduct honorable among those who don’t know God yet.
Though we can expect that they will speak against you as evildoers, they can still be brought to glorify God by seeing our godly conduct.
For example– “I yelled at that Christian the other day and that idiot just smiled at me and blessed me! That crazy Christian is always wanting to pray for people. Do you know they volunteer their time to go help those wretched people? They are at church every Sunday!
Again contrasting the unbelieving culture we live in, in 1 Peter 2: 13-15 and again in vs 23, we are warned about clashing with one another. We are all called to serve and to love one another, not bite and devour one another.
The flesh expects others to conform to us and doesn’t care much about others. But when we through love, serve one another, we conquer the flesh.
When we through love, serve one another, we conquer the flesh.
Can I remind us all here that Jesus said of Himself, “the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.
When we are conceited, always sure we’re right, when we’re confident in our opinions and perceptions, it provokes other people. It rubs people the wrong way and is the source of many conflicts.
The gates of hell will not prevail against the church, but a congregation can be torn down with its own hands.
The Consequences of Our Actions
What do those on the outside see when they look in?
Self-control a work of God. It is a fruit of the Spirit and can and does manifest itself in the ability to stop and think about the consequences of our actions. It’s important to stop and think about the nature of what we are thinking and planning, and where it comes from. Ask yourself, “Is this of God? Or is it rooted in my sinful nature?”
But each one is tempted
when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
Then, when desire has conceived,
it gives birth to sin; and sin,
when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Galatians 5 lends itself to an examination of ourselves. How often do we think that our problems and struggles are all outside of ourselves? We think that we would be fine if everyone just treated us right and if situations just got better. But that ignores the theme of this chapter: the problems are in us, and need to be dealt with by the Spirit of God.
Augustine used to often pray, “Lord, deliver me from that evil man, myself.” With that kind of reality check, we can see a new world, and a new life. We see that not one other person or one other circumstance has to change. All we must do is yield to the Spirit of God, and begin to truly walk in the Spirit.
Stop Blaming Others
There are people who need to stop blaming others and just admit they do not want to submit to God, or the earthly authority God has placed over them. They need to just admit to themselves and everyone else that they do not want to live for Jesus but simply for themselves. If that is you stop making yourself and everyone around you miserable and go do your thing.
Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.
1 Corinthians 5:5 NLT
These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
1 John 2:19
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control,
2 Peter 1:5-6
Just Like Infants
“One of the basic characteristics of infancy is a lack of self-control. Not only do babies need diapers, they must be carried because they lack the necessary control and muscle coordination to sit up much less walk or run. If babies are healthy and normal, in time they will develop more and more self-control—a sure sign of growth and maturity.”
In his book, When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado writes:
An All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
Daniel Akst in a secular article called, “Whose in Charge Here?” wrote:
“Life in modern Western cultures is like living at a giant all-you-can-eat buffet offering more calories, credit, sex, intoxicants, and just about anything else one could take to excess than our forebears might ever have imagined. With more possibilities for pleasure and fewer rules and constraints than ever before, the happy few will be those able to exercise self-control.”
Set Free from Bondage
I stand before you today as a witness who by the grace of God who has been set free from the bondage of self-centered self-indulgence and a life that lacked self-discipline.
I found out the hard way there is no satisfaction and there is certainly no abundance but lack and unhappiness outside of what God desires for us. I will hope you will join me if you have not already in living in the freedom and abundant life that Christ offers. There is not less enjoyment in a life of self-discipline and self-control but more.