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.
Luke 24:49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
Before Jesus departed from His disciples to be with His Father, He relayed to them a promise. This promise caused their entire lives to change. These ordinary fishermen, tax collectors, and otherwise nobodies took part in the birth of a movement that would turn the world upside down. That is, after the promise, and after they waited for it.
When Jesus gave His followers the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, He didn’t send them out alone to accomplish His will. He told them that with his departure would come another. The Holy Spirit would be poured out on them, just as promised, and they would receive power from God to do everything they needed to do to bring about His purposes. The power of the Holy Spirit changed them from cowards who ran at the time of Jesus’ arrest and trials to bold evangelists who proclaimed the Gospel to thousands upon thousands.
They waited for this power because they knew Jesus was true to His word. The man who predicted that He would rise from the dead had more than earned their trust. They knew the power would come and they knew when He showed up. There was no reason left to question, only reason to act. And the Holy Spirit helped them to do that too.
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.
John 16:13-14 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
In moments where something spiritual that once seemed unclear becomes clear, the Holy Spirit is at work. Whether it’s a verse of Scripture or something you’re learning through prayer, God is working in you for the purpose of His own glory. When we need an answer from God, it’s not often that we’d hear an audible voice speak to us. It’s more likely that we’d “hear” from Him through the person of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit guides us in truth. He helps us discern right from wrong, allows us to see what sound biblical doctrine looks like, He declares to us what God is revealing. When we’re in need of direction, it’s the Holy Spirit that shows us the way. When we’re looking for God’s will, it becomes clear (though usually not all at once) by way of the Holy Spirit’s work. He convicts us of sin, leads us in truth, and speaks to us the things of God.
It’s because of the Holy Spirit that we’re able to bring glory to God. He molds us and shapes us to be of godly character, bearing witness to Christ through our example to others. He loves others through us, accomplishes the Father’s will through us, and empowers us. He’s God in us and He’s what other people see of God through us.
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.
John 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
What is the Holy Spirit? Is it a force? Something that makes people act crazy in church? Maybe it’s our conscience? A ghost? What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit? What does the Bible say?
First, the point must be made that the Holy Spirit is not an “it”, but a “He”, the third distinct person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God, just as Jesus is God and the Father is God. His purpose is unique and He moves in the lives of people to make things happen. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit when He was about to ascend back into heaven. He pointed out that once He was gone we’d still have God with us because we’d be given the Spirit. But so few of us understand what this means.
If you’re a believer, it’s only because you were first called by the Holy Spirit. God was working in your life to reconcile you to a right relationship with Him. You and I don’t have it in us to move towards God without Him initiating. Our sinful nature makes us want to move away from God, not towards Him.
The Spirit convicts the world of sin (makes us aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness), of judgment (to show us the penalty that has to be paid for our sin), and of righteousness (to show us the character of God and all that’s good). Jesus no longer walks among us as our example for what righteousness and holiness are, so the Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal them to us. It’s also His job to reveal God’s character to other people through us by enabling us to show the Fruit of the Spirit. Lives are changed by the work of the Holy Spirit, who glorifies Jesus.
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.
John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
Put yourself in the place of the original disciples. You’re walking along daily with Jesus. The Son of God is not only your teacher, but your friend. You spend time with the one person on earth who has lived a perfect life and never committed a single sin. But then, just when you think things are going great, He tells you He’s going to go away. He’s going to die. What do you do with that?
We can’t blame Peter for his reaction to Jesus’s news. When he swore it couldn’t be so, Jesus rebuked him and we, living so far removed from that moment, are quick to judge his stupidity. But let’s be honest, we would most likely have done the same thing Peter did. If Jesus lived right here among us, if we thought He was going to establish His kingdom right here and now, we’d have tried to keep Him around too. But Jesus pointed out that it was actually to our advantage that He go away. How can this be?
When Christ came to earth as a man, He emptied Himself of His divine prerogative. He, as a human man, could only be in one place at a time. In the brief time He was here in the flesh, He could not be omnipresent. He could not be with every single person at once. But by sending the Holy Spirit (who, by the way, operated in Christ at all times), we could have God present with us always. If God was still present in the form of Jesus in a historic place and time, we wouldn’t be able to experience His divine guidance unless we were right there with Him. But the Holy Spirit is our helper whenever and wherever. His power operates in us and through us to the glory of God.
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.
1 John 5:6-12 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Are you ever afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone? Are you ever timid to tell what you’ve seen and heard concerning the Son of God? Don’t feel too bad, you’re not alone. But we’re all called to share the Good News. It’s our job to proclaim it to all the world. But there’s more good news, the results don’t all rest on us.
The thing about being fearful when it comes to witnessing is that most of the work is actually done by the Holy Spirit, not by us. There’s no reason to be shy about sharing when we realize that we’re just a vessel used by God to reach other people with His message. He works in the heart of the person who hears the gospel and He works in you and me when we’re telling them. The Spirit testifies and He does it in the hearer and through the teller. Does that make you feel more at ease?
When you submitted your life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit made His home inside you and you are a walking, talking testimony for Jesus. The Spirit declares the Good News. We just need to be available to make it happen. There’s no need to be afraid. It’s not all up to us how things turn out. It’s just our job to speak up and let the world know that Jesus is the hope for all mankind.