Tag Archives: Fruit of the Spirit

“It’s time to practice what we big boys call ‘self-control…'”

Self-control.

Where have you gone, self-control?

What has become of you?

Have you left our land never to return, or are you there waiting to be reintroduced by those who should already know you?

Oh, self-control, don’t hide your face anymore…

Ha! Just a little strange poetry humor to get us started… anyone know Silverweed from Watership Down? No?  Moving on… Self-control. No one talks about SELF control any more, or if they do, it is actually seen to be a negative thing, something to make fun of.  However, when we read scripture it become evident that self-control is extremely important and is a valuable thing.  It is my argument that many negative things we are facing in our current culture arises, in part, from a lack of self-control.

Freedom and self-control go hand-in-hand.  Do we see this in scripture?  We sure do!  Please check out an earlier article on mine that goes into the Greek behind “temperance” which is self-control, and that is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 9; Temperance

Self-control is also taught in the OT; Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.  If you lack self-control, you lack defenses against the enemy.  Sound like that could be a connection with all the things we see around us right now in our culture? When we have a lack of self-control, we suffer as individuals, but we also hurt others including the whole of the Body of Christ.  When self-control is absent, addiction can move and set up shop in our lives.

We look around and we see the lack of self-control; sex and porn addiction, homosexual acts, fornication, adultery, drug and alcohol addiction, gluttony, addiction to gossip, and on and on.  Not only that, we see a generation of kids who can’t control themselves.  Debts is out of control, and people can’t seem to put their electronics down for more than a minute at a time.  One of the reasons we see this is that it has become a belief that control comes from outside of ourselves.  Drugs are a popular example of this.  I’m all for necessary medications, but there is now this thought that whatever is wrong, legal or illegal drugs can correct.  We also see law, or legality, as an example as well. If it is legal, it must be ok, because if it wasn’t ok, it would be illegal and the government would control us.  Speaking of the government, they are also trying to impose control in other ways.  Kids not eating healthy?  Take away the vending machines at school.  Outlaw big gulps… yeah, that’ll work.

No.  God puts the responsibility squarely on us, and says if we are walking with Him, if we are believers, we will have help from the Holy Spirit.  One of the major things I hope people understand is that it is not weakness to seek help for something we feel is out of our control.  Let’s use the porn epidemic as an example.  Men and women are both affected, sometimes in different ways.  Further, some may think porn “doesn’t hurt anyone” so what is the big deal?  First of all, it is a big deal to God. It hurts the one viewing it.  It changes the neural pathways in the brain in a way that is unhealthy, and causes the individual to react differently when met with a real-life woman (or man) and a real relationship.  It also hurts the ones participating in the pornography itself; it is degrading and debasing for all involved.  It hurts the whole Body of Christ, for when one person is harmed the rest are as well.  It’s like a virus spreading; what we do in “private” is not disconnected from everything else, nor everyone else.  Perfect example of all of this; I’m sure you’ve read or heard of the Josh Duggar scandal.  He never actually internalized self-control, but was instead controlled by thoughts, urges, and hormones; the perfect example of what not to do or how to be.  He learned how to mimic self-control, not how to actually control himself.

We see other examples surrounding us, or even in our own lives.  How we eat, how we spend our money, how we handle anger, where our thoughts go, how we spend our time, our actions, our words… It’s past time we take a look at our selves, and start practicing self-control and teaching our children how to practice it as well, if we haven’t already.  Practicing self-control isn’t locking ourselves away from temptation, but rather learning how to respond correctly to the temptation when it rears its ugly head. Part of this is embracing the freedom God gives us, and learning responsibility within that freedom. God says He always gives us a way out of temptation… it’s time to look for that open door.  If you need help, find help.  This is not a legalistic thing, but rather it is all about health; the individual’s spiritual, physical, and mental health, and having good defenses.  As each individual gains proper healthy defenses, the body of Christ as a whole can flourish.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 9; Temperance

The last fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 is “temperance.”  The Greek word used here is egkrateia, it means self-control, or a hallmark of one who masters their passions.  There should be nothing that has control over us, that stems from our human nature.  So, we have a struggle between human nature and divine nature.  It is more clearly laid out for us in 2 Peter:

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Notice all those things that are linked together and it all goes back to faith.  We are saved by grace through faith, so that is the starting point.  Trusting Jesus and God is faithing.  That faith and salvation leads to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit yields fruit, including temperance.

It is also interesting to me to see the last bit added on; if you don’t have temperance, if we don’t have self-control, it is because we have forgotten that we are cleansed from past sin.  Forgiveness leads to healing, that is forgiveness of ourselves and the realization that God does not hold our past sins over our heads.  If we do not realize that forgiveness it actually leads us to fall prey to our old nature.  Isn’t that interesting?  Legalism will never set us free, it is the fact of our freedom that enables our virtue of things like self-control.  Also notice that Temperance is also then connected on to patience, godliness, kindness, and charity.  Patience, godliness, kindness, and charity flow from self-control.

We struggle with many things that require self-control; drug use, lust, greed, anger, etc… We are promised that if we faithe on God, if we remember and realize that we are set free from all past sin, that we WILL have temperance/self-control, because it is a fruit of the Spirit.  Grab onto that fact, faithe, and remember. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!  That is the path to controlling our human desires and passions, and giving over to the divine nature.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 8; Meekness…

This is one of my favorite aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.  One of the reasons I like it so much is that the word, praotes in the Greek, “gentleness,” also translated “meekness,” is very much misunderstood in this day and age, and the real meaning is so rich.  We have such a pansy idea of what “meek” is; notice that it is often paired together “meek and mild.”

We all tend to think of the verse, “the meek shall inherit the earth,” and forget that Jesus Himself was described as “meek.”  Well… do you find Jesus weak or mild, or someone that was a pushover?  He is God.  So, how can Jesus be “meek” and also be God?  Of course it is because we are not thinking of the right definition.

What does it mean to “meek” or gentle a horse?  Does that mean that we take all the strength and power away from it?  Of course not.  Meekness is controlled power.  When a horse takes a bit and a rider, and the two work as one, that is meekness.  Horses are incredibly powerful, and as their power is directed by a rider, they gain purpose and are able to grow stronger and do so much more than a wild horse.

When a believer is meek, we are powerful and directed by God Himself.  When we are gentled, we can serve God in tandem with His wishes.  The flipside of this, is that it takes a good horseman to properly train and utilize the power of a horse.  We have the best trainer possible; the Holy Spirit.  If we yield to Him, He shall make us useful to God in purpose and direction.  The great thing is, being an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, it takes no “effort” on our part, the Spirit produces gentleness in us.

There are war horses, and plow horses… show horses, and jumpers.  Each kind is trained differently and each has their role to play.  None of them are weak.  In humans, being meek is not being a door mat, quite the opposite.  Being meek is being assured of one’s strength, and allowing that strength to be shaped to serve God.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 7; Faith…

One of my favorite subjects to write on is faith.  Faith also happens to be an aspect to the fruit of the Spirit.  As in other occurrences of the word faith in scripture, it is “pistis” in the Greek.  The just (the righteous, who are in Christ) live by faith, according to Paul.  We are not left alone struggling to live by faith, but rather we are aided by the Spirit.

Pistis is trusting with great confidence.  When we are talking about living by faith, we are talking about living our lives relying and trusting God.  Trust has a target, and different people place their trust in different things; for some it is money, for some it is another human being, for some it is military might, etc… For a believer, the only proper target of faith is God.

Another implication of this aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is fidelity.  Staying true to the Truth in other words. This aspect also flows from the Spirit, because it is an aspect of God as well. We are told that Jesus, God the Son, also had faith, and exercised this in His faith toward the Father, and His fidelity to the plan of salvation.  Not only do we have a model of faith in Christ, but also the driving force and power of the Spirit enabling us to have the same kind of faith.

In our day and age, faith is a valuable commodity.  There is so much happening in the world and even in the US, economically speaking.  People are being beset with illness, disease, natural disasters, economic woes, etc… but the Truth holds firm.  We are to have faith in the operation of God and all that implies; not worrying unduly, resting in Him and trusting that He will keep His promises toward us.

Colossians 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Our evidence for the “rightness” of our faith is Jesus’ resurrection.  As Paul has said, if Christ be not raised, our faith is in vain.  God draws attention to the resurrection of His Son to show us His fidelity, and in turn, that inspires ours.  With the evidence before us of the empty tomb, and the Spirit working on us from the inside, we can indeed be sure that faith will see us through.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 6; Goodness…

If gentleness is the “passive” side of kindness of character, “goodness” is the active side, or rather the more “pervasive” side.  The Spirit doesn’t just produce that mellow, gentle, and kind character, but lights a flame of action in us as well.  In the Greek, “goodness” is agathosune, it is the virtue of goodness in all aspects of self, including our actions.

When looking at this definition it is absolutely imperative that we are reminded that this is not our work we produce in us, but rather an aspect of the fruit that the Spirit produces.  One interesting aspect to this that I came across researching this term, was the idea that includes spurring others to good, or right action.  So, in a way, it is one aspect that is overtly “shared” with others, instead of being a strictly “internal” state.

Much of what is presented in churches is the idea that we have to strive to do good; that we have to work at it.  Well, when we have the Spirit, it isn’t “work” at all, not something to strive for, but something that “naturally” occurs as a result of the Spirit bearing fruit through us.  And, it isn’t our job to be fruit inspectors for everyone else.  What the Spirit wants to produce, as far as work, in fellow believers is between them and God.

Also, since this is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, we should be encouraging others to listen to and yield to the Spirit as He guides them, not as we think that they should be guided.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is none good but God, and it is His goodness that we are promised will develop in us because of Him and through Him and His grace.  Just as the Spirit gives different people different gifts, we should also expect this goodness in action to expressed in us differently from person to person.  For some, it is directly working with the poor and destitute, for some it is serving their family with an open heart, for some it is visiting the sick, for some it is working a 9 to 5 job to provide for their families, and on and on.

I know that, for me, it is indeed a great comfort to know that my character and my actions are in His hands, and as long as I have trust in Him, He works on me from the inside out, just as He does for all believers.

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 5; Gentleness…

In today’s society how many times have you heard someone described as “gentle?”  Think about it… even the idea of calling someone that, or pointing that out as a good quality has almost become a thing of the past.  Yet, here, in our list of the fruit of the Spirit, along with love, joy, peace, and longsuffering, we have “gentleness,” which is chrestotes in the Greek.  Think of the opposite of severe.

This word is also something translated as “kindness.”  Though it isn’t often directly translated this way, one of my favorite finds in researching this word is that it implies someone that is mellow.  I know this is more of a personal account, but when I think of gentleness, it always included the fact that whatever it is being gentle has a choice; meaning, if someone points out that someone or something else is being gentle, it is often surprising.  The visual picture I always get is something akin to a large, powerful guard dog, like a Great Pyrenees, taking care of a lamb, or another baby animal.  Most little critters are snack-size to a dog like a Great Pyrenees, yet it lets them crawl all over it, and it takes care of them.

God is described as being kind, or gentle, toward us through Jesus.

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

One of the ways God shows His grace (unmerited favor) toward us, is to show us kindness.  Then, He also produces that fruit in us. No one should ever confuse gentleness with weakness, but rather controlled strength.  “Gentleness” is seen to be the “passive” brother of the next aspect in our list; goodness.  More on that in the next article…

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The Fruit of the Spirit, pt. 4; Longsuffering…

After love, joy and peace, comes longsuffering, sometimes translated “patience.”  In the Greek, this one is makrothumia.  I honestly feel that this is one of the things most lacking in our current culture.  In an age of fast food, instant communication, self checkout lanes, rapid transit, etc… patience is becoming more and more scarce.  Commuters lack patience, children lack patience, parents lack patience… and I can vouch that people in line at Wal-Mart lack patience, especially during the holidays.

One of the ideas communicated with the Greek, and even in the English, is a slowness to avenge wrongs.  When I’m typing up these articles, I’m always preaching to myself too, and doing the research for this one has left me realizing I may need to be praying for a bit more patience.  Of course, that means God will set up circumstances in which to be patient, and He even does the work of nudging me toward a longsuffering attitude… it will be my “job” to yield to that prompting, which is easier said than done.  Having said that, it is again, a fruit of the Spirit, so it is entirely possible with Him.

I see patience and love as being intimately connected.  If we love others, we won’t respond in anger so harshly so quickly.  And, further, we are told that we have the perfect model of longsuffing in the Saviour Himself;

1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Think about Jesus’ response to all of the questioning, doubting, mocking, etc… He was ever patient.  He did not merely take anything thrown at Him, but was calm and capable in His responses.  Here’s an interesting proposition; try patience and see what happens.  Next time you are in line, and someone is hurrying trying not to be a bother, or the cashier is rushing and apologizing, smile, say some encouraging words.  Try it in public, every now and again I get looked at like I’m an alien, which in a way I guess I am, as are all believers.

One thing I hope you, my dear readers, are picking up on by now, is that the fruit of the Spirit as we have discussed thus far; love, joy, peace, and longsuffering are also descriptors of God’s character or traits He possessed especially exemplified in Jesus, which makes logical sense.  This is one of the great blessings of being a believer; we get God working on us to conform us to the image of His Son.  I want to underscore, this is His work in us, not our own, that is the way fruit works…

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