Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…self-control
“I can’t believe I did it again.” How many times have we all found ourselves in the situation that leads to such a thought? We tried to control ourselves, but that one thing that just always seems to creep back into our lives overtook our willpower once again. Yes, we gave in to temptation.
It’s a likely scenario, both for the nonbeliever and the Christ follower. It can be very difficult to keep our fleshly urges under control, whether those urges are overeating, lusting, drinking heavily, cheating, stealing, lying, or any other number of sins. The difference between us and those who are not redeemed by the blood of Christ through accepting His gift of salvation, is that we have been granted power above what we are humanly capable of possessing. We are not impotent to change our situation. We have the Holy Spirit working in us.
In the matter of self-control, the name given to this trait referenced in the Fruit of the Spirit scripture may be a bit of a misnomer. For it is not really “self” control that we possess, so much as it is “Spirit-control”. We have been given the ability to restrain ourselves through the help of the Holy Spirit living within us, as believers. We are told in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” That one passage is reason enough to believe that we are quite capable of bearing the fruit of self-control in our lives.
Self-control is not about trying our hardest not to sin. Rather, self-control, like the other Fruit of the Spirit, is attained through submission of our lives to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…gentleness
How are we to react to the aggravating situations that we sometimes face in life? Now answer the question how do we react in those situations. The answers often do not line up with each other.
Using Jesus as an example (see Matthew 11:29), we should always treat others with gentleness. We’ve spoken of kindness, and this differs just slightly. While kindness is more of a way of acting, gentleness brings up more of an idea of a state of spiritual being. While one acts in kindness, one is of gentle spirit.
We are told that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” in Proverbs 15:1, to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” in Ephesians 4:2, and also to”Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” in Philippians 4:5. Our instructions are clear. Be gentle, not harsh. Speak words of love, not hate.
We can bear this fruit through the Holy Spirit living inside of us. And we should let it show to all the world to bring glory to God and to fulfill His will.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…faithfulness
Our main goal as followers of Christ should be to act with the character of Jesus, our Savior. There is no better way to lead others to Him than to show them exactly who Christ is. Words make a huge impact, but nothing can compare with the example we set through our actions.
In His earthly ministry, we see that Jesus was always faithful. There is never a time that our Lord makes a promise that He does not fulfill. We also should strive for this quality. We should be faithful in all we do.
In this world filled with so many excuses to get out of everything from paying what we owe on debt to facing the consequences of sin, it takes little effort from us to be unreliable. But as Christians, we are to set the example of what faithfulness means.
Faithfulness in our jobs means putting in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Faithfulness in our marriage means remaining true to our vows, keeping ourselves pure, not only physically by mentally as well. Faithfulness to our children means not making promises that we don’t intend to keep.
And, just as important as those examples is our faithfulness in areas that can be seen in public by nonbelievers. The world must see us living the qualities we profess to believe in. Making excuses is not Christlike. Ask the Holy Spirit to bear this fruit in your life for all to see, for it brings glory to God.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…goodness
The Christian faith is one that is plagued with a sometimes unflattering past. The view that nonbelievers take of the religion to which we belong is not always a positive one. Despite our best efforts to put forth a good face to Christianity, some will focus on the negative events that have taken place in history.
This is all the more reason why we, as Christ followers, should put forth the very best example at all times. In all that we do, we need to show goodness. When we are wronged, we need to react, not with more wrong, but with good.
We need to be using our time to help the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Wherever there is need, it is those who follow Christ and do His will that should be at the forefront of the effort to bring good to the situation.
And in all these things, it is not our effort that brings about good. It is the Holy Spirit in us that bears this fruit for all to see.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…kindness
Kindness is hard to come by in today’s society. Even kind acts are sometimes done out of selfish motives. But if we are to truly bear the fruit that God has in mind, we must act in kindness out of love, not out of selfish ambition. Our motives matter a lot to God.
It’s true, that we are often rewarded for our kindness in this life. This, however, should not be our objective in doing kind things for others. Our main focus is to bring glory to God through our actions. Whether that is helping the poor, tutoring children, reading to our own kids, or whatever.
Kindness, again like so many attribute of the fruit of the spirit, comes out of love and it related to the other fruit. Without joy, we will not be able to show kindness because we will not be in the right state to do so. Without patience we will never be able to show kindness because sometimes we’re required to show kindness to those that are hard to love.
Show kindness from your heart, and show the love of God the Father to those who don’t know Him.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…patience
Patience is never a subject that Christians want to hear a message about. We’ve all experienced praying for patience, only to have the worst day ever. This may be where the saying “Be careful what you wish for” came from. It seems that when we pray for patience, the Lord gives us some training.
But we should all strive to show patience, so that others may see that something different in us. We must be the ones in the frustrating situation who are keeping a cool head. This is an open door to witnessing to nonbelievers. When we keep our cool, even though everyone around us is losing theirs, people may ask us how it’s so. We must walk through that open door.
If we are to bear fruit as a witness to our Savior, we must have patience to deal with all things that come our way. If we do not have patience with nonbelievers, we will not show them love. If we do not have patience, we will not show kindness in a world that lacks it. Without patience, there is no self-control, and so on and so forth.
To bear any fruit of the spirit, we must exercise patience.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…peace
Love…joy…and now peace. The fruit of the spirit begins with three very related attributes that a Christ follower should exemplify. Related because the first leads to the second, and the second leads to the third. Without love, we would have no joy; and with no joy, we could have no peace. This means that, indirectly and directly, we cannot have peace without love.
Peace is a byproduct. If one merely strives for peace, but does not achieve the other fruit of the Spirit, peace will not be reached. Much the same can be said for the remainder of the fruit. And it all starts with love.
Peace can be a very elusive thing in our time. With our world constantly growing more busy, one can barely find the time to think about peace, let alone obtain it. It doesn’t help that we’re told from every source around us that we should only look out for ourselves and our own pleasure. The lie of the world is that we will gain peace by seeking the things of this world and thinking only of selfish ambition. But peace will never be reached in this way.
True peace, the kind that Christ promises, cannot be caught by trying to catch peace. No, it is a byproduct of a Christ-centered attitude and heart. When we follow after the will of God, when we love others, when we help those in need, when we exemplify love and have joy, we will get peace. The peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) will be ours if we seek the Lord first and foremost in our lives.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the spirit is love…
Paul starts out the portion of his letter to the Galatian Christians on the fruit of the spirit by stating that love is one of the quality traits we should bear as followers of Christ. One should think there is no coincidence in the fact that this is the first trait listed in the fruit of the spirit. Love is a major theme in God’s Word.
Why is it that love is so important in the life of a Christ follower? Why would love be so important to be listed first among the fruit of the spirit, mentioned so many times throughout the scriptures, and spoken of so often by Jesus Himself? Because without love, everything else is worthless.
Many wedding ceremonies include a reading from I Corinthians 13. We call it “the love chapter”. A wonderful chapter it is, but we often hear it quoted starting in verse 4. This is where the characteristics of love are given. Look just before that verse to find what Paul says on the importance of love. “…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned; but have not love, I gain nothing.“(2b-3)
Did you catch that? If we have the faith to move mountains, but don’t have love in our hearts, it’s worthless faith! All too often we place more importance on faith and works than on love. The fact is, that those works and that faith ought to be based in love. When we perform kind acts, it should be out of love, not duty. When we sing songs of praise to the Lord, it must be out of love for Him, not obligation.
When Jesus Christ was questioned as to the greatest of the commandments, He listed near the top “love your neighbor as yourself“(Matthew 22:39). If we can keep this commandment, almost everything else we’re instructed to do will come as a natural byproduct.
They will know we are Christians by our love. Let it show.
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Romans 1:13 “I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.”
It’s that time of the year for the farmer. He has plowed the land. He has prepped the soil by fertilizing it with nutrients. He has laid seeds and carefully watered his fields. He has watched his seeds sprout and grow into big, healthy plants. And now, after much hard work and great patience, it’s time for the harvest. He gazes over his field to find…none of his plants have produced any fruit?
That scenario seems silly doesn’t it? Minus a catastrophe, a farmer who has put a lot of hard work into planting a field expects to see fruit when the harvest comes. In the same way, when we invest our time and resources into others, we should expect to see the Lord do a work in peoples lives. Paul didn’t say I want to work among you and maybe I’ll see some of you grow. He said I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit. Why? Because he had seen the Lord work in these people before and expected Him to do it again.
Now, I know what you’re saying to yourself. I do invest in people at the church and I have seen people grow in their walk with Jesus. It’s worth pointing out here who Paul is speaking to. Paul is speaking to the Gentiles. A people group that was far from God and considered wretched and unclean. See where I’m going with this? Did you just get a little uncomfortable in your seat? Good, because I know I just did and I’m the one writing this devotional. While it is not only good, but it is actually God’s will for us to disciple the next generation, He has also called us to reach out to those who are far from Him. Those who are wretched and unclean, as we all once were. Those who are outside our church walls, and outside of our comfort zone for that matter.
We can’t choose one or the other. God is inviting us into His work, and His work involves both discipling and reaching the lost. Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” Will you work the fields today? Better yet, will you work the fields today expecting Jesus to do a miracle is someone’s life? I pray today that if anything has prevented you in the past from reaching out to someone, just as Paul was prevented from reaching out to the Romans, that God would give you the opportunity and the courage to be bold in His name.