December 31, 2015
When New Year’s Day rolls around, many people make resolutions to change something in their life. Maybe they want to lose weight or become more organized. These resolutions are seldom kept, and when the New Year comes again the same resolutions are repeated. As a Christian you should stop periodically and take an unbiased look at your life. Not where you are on the social circuit or what your financial status looks like, but you need to evaluate what really matters. Where are you in your Christian walk? Christians need to draw nearer to Christ and honor Him in every part of our life. In order to do that, we need to study our Bible and apply Scripture to our life daily. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:7-8. Do you feel as if you’re far away from God? The Holy Spirit indwells Christians, so it’s impossible to be far from Him at all. If you feel far from Him, then you are out of fellowship. This comes from making choices that are not based upon His directions and choosing to ignore His word. If you claim Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then honor Him with the way you live. You do have a choice, but if you choose to ignore Him you will only be unhappy and filled with conflict.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul listed what constitutes an ungodly way of living. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.“Galatians 5:19-21. If you claim to be a Christian, examine yourself to be sure that none of these things are a part of your way of life. If you participate in any of these, turn from them and seek God. Sin is always encouraged by Satan, but a Christian’s life needs to reflect Christ. Paul also gave a list of things that are evidence that you’re drawing closer to God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. This fruit is free of turmoil, anger, and sin. Cultivate these attitudes and you will honor God with your life.
Love. There are many Greek words for “love”, but the one used here is agape. This is a choice to love. If you see thatagape is lacking in your life, you need to remember God’s choice to love you. Even if someone is difficult to love, choose to love them and you might be surprised at how showing love can change another person. Agape is sometimes translated charity. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2-3. Agape is a Greek noun, not a verb or an adjective. You can do good things and have a lot of knowledge of God’s word, but if you aren’t love then all your good deeds and knowledge are worth nothing.
Joy. This should be unquenchable in every Christian. On the night of His arrest, Jesus had a serious talk with His disciples. It was urgent that they understood what He had taught them because it would be up to them to spread the Gospel. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10-11. The love Jesus talked of is the same agape that is a fruit of the Spirit, and His joy in us is also Spiritual fruit. Jesus was soon to be crucified. He would take all of our sin upon Himself and conquer death for us. Joy should abound in our life.
Peace. On the same night Jesus talked with His disciples about love and joy, He promised to leave them peace. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. Jesus knew what He was soon to face…false arrest, beatings, humiliation, and crucifixion, yet He spoke of peace that cannot be found in the world. Peace that comes from God will be there in times of trouble and in times of joy. There is much stress and turmoil in this life, but there is nothing we face that God can’t handle. Peace is a gift from God and a very precious fruit of the Spirit.
Longsuffering. Many things will come into your life that will try your patience. People will disappoint you, shoestrings will break, or it may seem as if you aren’t accomplishing any good thing. James tells us to look to the prophets for examples of patience. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” James 5:10. Study about Ezekiel, Elijah, Jeremiah and the other prophets. You will learn that they needed patience to serve the Lord. The writer of Hebrews says “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:12. Look to God’s word for examples of patience. If you trust God you will see that He is in control and your longsuffering will bear fruit.
Gentleness. This word comes from the Greek word chrēstotēs, which means “moral goodness, integrity”. It’s human nature to want to get revenge if someone treats us badly, but that isn’t showing moral goodness or Christian character. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31. This verse doesn’t say that if people treat you nice then you treat them nice. It says that no matter how they treat you, treat them the way you want to be treated. This fruit of the Spirit will show Christ’s love even when others aren’t treating us kindly and it shows moral goodness and integrity.
Goodness. This word comes from the Greek word agathōsynē which means “uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness”. Does that describe you? “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” Mark 10:18. Only God is truly good and Christian goodness comes from Him. This fruit of the Spirit needs to be nurtured in all of us so God’s goodness will shine through us and others will see Him living in us.
Faith. Faith that God’s word is true from the first verse in Genesis through the last verse in Revelation can only come through the Holy Spirit. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.God created everything just as described in Genesis chapter 1 and He will finish all things as He describes in the Revelation He gave to John. Because of faith we know this is true. Christian faith is being attacked every day and if you don’t study Scripture your faith will be compromised. Are there many paths to salvation? No, but you will be easily deceived if you don’t study Scripture. Is Jesus God? Yes, but unless you study Scripture you will have no answer for those who try to tell you otherwise. Faith needs to be reinforced by Scripture. Study God’s word and use it as the standard by which all things are measured. Fear will replace faith if faith isn’t cultivated. When a storm raged at sea the disciples were afraid and turned to Jesus for help. “And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” Mark4:40. Good question. Christian, why are you fearful?
Meekness. A Christian should not be a troublemaker, and the closer we draw to Jesus the more of a peacemaker we will be. A person who is meek is not easily riled and is slow to get angry. Meekness doesn’t mean weakness. There is great strength of character in meekness. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.“Numbers 12:3. Moses may have been meek but through the power of God he was able to convince Pharaoh to set the Israelites free, he led them through the Red Sea, he spoke with God, he delivered the Law, and much more. A weak man could not have done any of that. Meek people can accomplish much, but angry and belligerent people are not led by the Holy Spirit.
Temperance. This is self-restraint in all things. Passions in a temperate person are under control and don’t control the person. Peter was a very rash and outspoken man who learned to nurture Spiritual fruit. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and the brotherly kindness charity.” 2 Peter 1:5-7. Temperance is a very important fruit of the Spirit.
The word “fruit” is a noun, and every word in this list comes from a Greek word which is also a noun. These are not adjectives or verbs. In other words, this list doesn’t describe what you do or how you act, but how you are. As a Christian you are love, you are joy, you are peace, etc. When people around you see your way of life they should easily see that you are longsuffering and morally upright. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:24-26. When you accept Christ these traits should become part of your life. It may take time to cultivate these fruits to full ripeness, but Christ will help you.
“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18. Examine yourself to see what fruit needs to grow in your life. Today is the best day to begin to cultivate spiritual fruit. Tomorrow may be too late.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed