Friday, 3 June 2016
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22
Beginning with “But…” Paul now contrasts the deeds of the flesh of the previous verses with the fruits of the Spirit. One can understand the contrast when considering that “works of the flesh” stem from the natural, earthly man. He is fallen, and his works produce that which is unfit for the kingdom of God. To contrast this, that which stems from “the Spirit” is given to show that these do not flow from our own nature, but rather from God.
It should be noted that each of these fruits appear to be things which any person can possess, even if they have never come to Christ. However, this is incorrect. Only through the Spirit are our actions acceptable to God. Without Christ’s covering, our works are tainted with sin, and any fruit we have is already corrupted. Further, the use of some of these words is only in relation to that which is of divine origin. This fruit of the Spirit includes:
Love – This is love which is expressed to our Creator and to other humans which is pure and undefiled. It follows the description given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, and it is a volitional act of the will. It is, in particular, love directed to God more than anything else. The reason for this is that this, as a fruit, is set in contrast to the works of the flesh which are carnal and earthly. This is uniting; that is divisive.
Joy – This word is etymologically linked to words meaning “rejoice because of grace,” “joy because of grace,” and “grace.” Therefore, it signifies the knowledge and understanding of God’s grace and favor. In essence, it is the recognition of His grace in our lives… something to be truly joyous about.
Peace – This word indicates “peace of mind.” It is comparable to the Jewish word “shalom” which indicates more than just calm, but wholeness and completion when all the essential parts are joined together. It is God’s gift of wholeness.
Longsuffering – Patience is the short definition here. But it is a bit fuller than that. It is a divinely regulated endurance which even is used by God of Himself to show that He is truly able to endure our waywardness in order to reveal His character to us. It demonstrates the ability to wait a sufficient time before expressing anger. Thus, it withholds any premature use of force concerning offense.
Kindness – This word is described as that which is well-suited for use. It is the ability to meet real needs in the way that God would meet them, and in the timing He would meet them. As it is a divinely generated type of kindness, it is rightly known as a fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit produces in us a goodness which meets the needs of others while avoiding natural, carnal harshness.
Goodness – This speaks of goodness which is intrinsic in nature. It is a quality or condition which is related to believers because its source is found in God. It is revealed in both moral and spiritual excellence.
Faithfulness – The word here is noted by HELPS Word Studies as always being a gift from God; never that which can be produced by people. It is “God’s divine persuasion” – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 Jn 5:4).”
Life application: In a cursory reading of these fruits of the Spirit, one might think that they possessed them apart from coming to Christ. This is not the case. The gifts that God offers, through His Spirit, are unique to believers. Further, they are not automatically obtained. Rather, they develop as we yield ourselves to Christ. This can be done through prayer, praise, fellowship, study of the word, etc. Be well rounded in your walk and yield your life daily to the Lord. As you do, He will continue to fill you with His Holy Spirit.
It is such a wonderful thing to know that reaching my final goal isn’t up to me at all. Here I am Lord, failing You daily… stumbling over my natural self. And yet, because of the work of Another, I am deemed holy and acceptable to You. Help each of us who have called on Jesus to first live for You because of that act. But secondly, to understand that when we falter, You have already forgiven the failing. What a great and gracious God You are! Amen.