FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, GOODNESS part two

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 18

 GOODNESS – A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD

PART TWO

 God’s goodness is expressed in the very first reference to God in Scripture.  In Genesis 1 we read of the creation done by God simply at the power of His words. 

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  An God saw that the light was good.

 

Genesis 1:3-4.   This continued through creation and then, in verses 26-27, 31 we read: 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

 

Have you ever worked hard to create something and then looked at it and saw the imperfections, the mistakes, the “oops” that no one else would see, and then say to yourself, “it’s nice” or “it’s fairly good” or “not bad for a first attempt”. 

 

That’s not what happened in Genesis 1 – God created the world and all there is in it and when the Triune God was done on the sixth day, He looked at his completed creation and said not only that each of the component parts were good, He declared that “it was VERY GOOD” and it included mankind, created in His image, for fellowship and relationship with Him.  God is Good and we were created in His image. 

 

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!  In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 31:19-20

 

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

2 Chronicles 16:9

 

  • God’s goodness is shown in His long-suffering, forbearance and slowness to anger that continues toward persons who have persisted in sinning.

 

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

Exodus 34:6

 

Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 

Psalm 78:38

 

Theologian J. I. Packer says that the supreme expression of God’s goodness is His amazing grace and inexpressible love that is evidenced by His saving sinners, who deserve only condemnation, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary

 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

  • God’s goodness includes His glorious kindness and generosity that touches all His creatures.

 

In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer calls Psalm 107 the classical exposition of God’s goodness.  The psalmist begins with the call to give thanks for God’s goodness. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.  Vs. 1-2

 

The psalmist then identifies four problems from which God has given aid to Israel. 

  1. God redeems those who are helpless from their enemies;
  2. God delivers from “darkness and the shadow of death” – Hallelujah –notably reference in the text is even made that this was brought about because of the people’s rebellion against God and yet he delivered anyway;
  3. God provided healing for diseases that He had brought upon the people to discipline the “fools” who disregarded him; and
  4. God protected those who traveled by sea when storms arose that would have sunk their ship but He intervened and stilled the storm.

 

Looking at the psalm, each of these situations and rescues concludes with the same refrain: 

“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” 

 

Psalm 107 is not the only place where we are told to sing God’s praises for His goodness in creation and the history of His people. 

 

In Psalm 136 we find verses that sing of God’s goodness with each verse ending with the refrain “for His steadfast love endures forever.”   Verse 1 begins the psalm with “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” and the last verse commands that we “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

 

So we know God is Good … and we know that we are not good apart from Jesus.  So, what are we to do?

 

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: 

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

 

We are to do works that are good so that we give glory to God.  We reflect His glory and tell of His goodness when we magnify His great name before others.  That is our purpose in goodness before men. 

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

So, what good works do we do?  How do we let our light shine before men?  How do we give glory to God?

 

There are multitudes of ways that we can perform good works through the Holy Spirit provided through Jesus Christ to us.  Here, however, we will be looking at 1) generosity and 2) appreciation of excellence and beauty. 

 

  • Regarding Generosity —

 

Our doing good freely should be done liberally and bountifully.  We are not to be skimpy givers, but we are to be open-hearted and open-handed.  See 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11.   In verse 6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that if they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly; and conversely, if they sow bountifully, they will reap bountifully. 

 

We will have a desire for the good will of others.   This is an imitation of the love and grace of God and of the love of Christ which desires the good of men.  See Luke 2:14.

 

We show our willingness to do good to other simply by doing it!  Where there is power to act, the act will always follow the will.  Scripture speaks of doing good as the evidence of love.    I John 3: 18-19.  

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  Hereby we know that we are of the truth.” 

 

We will seek opportunity to do good to the soul and body of others.  Our benevolence should be universal, constant, free, habitual and according to our opportunities and ability, as we follow the commands of God.  To freely do good to others is to do to them as we would have them do to us, that is the enactment of “the Golden Rule.”  To freely do good to others encourages us to remember how kind God and Christ have been to us and how much we have received from them, every moment of every day. 2 Corinthians 8:9.

 

  • Regarding appreciation of what is good, true and beautiful:

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says “One thing that comes with the fruit of goodness is a new appreciation for what is good, true and beautiful.”

 

We have already spoken of God’s beautiful creation. In Exodus 28:2 God tells the people how to make Aaron’s garments:

 

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty”.

 

Note that Aaron’s garments were to reflect God’s glory and beauty!  We know the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were pinnacles of beauty and the directions for their building did not come from designers or architects but directly from God. 

 

Another example of the appreciation of beauty as coming from the Goodness of our Creator God is the work of the composer Johan Sebastian Bach. 

 

Bach composed his music as an apologetic for the existence of God.  Pointing to the order of creation and the beauty therein, Bach wanted his music to point to the existence of God when, during the period known as the Enlightenment, people were arguing that man was the be all and end all and there was no need for God anymore.  Although born in 1685 and living only until 1750, Bach’s witness for God is far from silent in our own day!

 

 Bach himself said:

 

“Music’s only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.” 

 

Music was given to glorify God in heaven and to edify men and women on earth.  It wasn’t to make lots of money or to feed the musician’s ego or to be famous.  Music was about blessing the Lord and blessing others.

Listen to “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” as composed by J. S. Bach and as performed by the Brentwood Jazz Quartet.

 

 

But Bach’s music goes far beyond merely reflecting God’s orderly creation – it contains the message of the Gospel when used by the Holy Spirit. 

C. S. Lewis opined that the world does not need more Christian literature – it needs more Christians writing good literature or more Christians composing good works of music or of art. When we produce art that is good; art that reflects a biblical world view, its richness will endure through the ages.

 

Does your experience with the Fruit of the Spirit of Goodness give you a new appreciation for the good, true and beautiful?

 

God is Good

 

  • His goodness underlies his love, his redemptive acts and his securing of our eternal blessings.
  • His goodness is evidenced in creation, and in truth and all things beautiful.
  • May we give our best to the Lord and may we do good for Him, whether it be in acts of benevolence for others or in writing or composing … whatever we do, may it be to the Glory of God for He alone is Good and his Goodness extends to all generations.

 

Take some time this week to listen to some beautiful music or look at some beautiful scenery and let your Spirit soar as you glorify your God in meditation.  Do some good act of benevolence for someone anonymously and let the Spirit work His will in both the recipient and you, the giver. Daily, praise the Lord, for He is Good.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, GOODNESS, part one

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 17

GOODNESS – A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD

PART ONE

In his sermons compiled as The Glorious Feast of the Gospel by Richard Sibbes, an Elizabethan Era theologian, teacher and preacher, he makes the following statement: 

Here you may see that God doth veil heavenly things under earthly things, and condescends so low as to enter into the inward man by the outward man. For our apprehensions are so weak and narrow that we cannot be acquainted with spiritual things, but by the inward working of the Spirit of the Almighty.

 

Simply, we cannot understand spiritual things except for His imparting that ability to us.  This is precisely what we have been speaking about throughout this series. The Holy Spirit resides within us and it is He, and only He, who can teach us of the fruit of the Spirit as we allow Him to do so.   

What does Scripture say?

 

So, turning to Galatians 5, we read:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:22-23.  

 

The Greek word used here is ἀγαθωσὐνη.  The transliteration is agathosyne. According to Strong’s Lexicon, it means “uprightness of heart, goodness, kindness.”

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul notes, in the Developing Christian Character, CD Teaching Series from Ligonier Ministries, that goodness is a relative term and that any definition must be based on a standard.  First, there is an external and an internal aspect of goodness.  Externally, a good deed is one that appears to conform to the demands of the law … but this is not the full definition of a good deed.  Rather, it also incorporates an element related to motivation.  Internally, a good deed is one that is motivated by a desire to please God in our vertical relationship with Him.  The concept of goodness as moral excellence is evidenced horizontally in our personal relationships by unwavering integrity and a generosity to others that is based on the recognition of how God has blessed us through Christ.  Further, there is a new ability to appreciate excellence and beauty, this being evidence of the beauty, order and exquisite detail of God’s nature and character.

 

The Jews knew that to call yourself good was to take an attribute of God and apply it to yourself, something that was clearly within the definition of blasphemy and not to be taken lightly, as is evidenced by Jesus’ response to the man in Mark 10:18 where He says:

 

“Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.” 

Mark 10:18.

 

Paul said in Romans 3:11-12: 

“None is righteous, no, not one;   no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”

 

Given Jesus’ statement that only God is good, and given Paul’s assertion that no one is good on their own, it really is a futile gesture for us to look within ourselves for goodness.  Why?  Because of sin. Sin has robbed us of the good that God granted to us at creation. 

 

We know that Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  And, if you are like me, you have learned that sin is “missing the mark,” rather like shooting an arrow at God’s glory and the arrow fell short. 

 

However, John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory, (Crossway Publishers, 1998) argues that the Greek definition of the word for “falling short” (husterountai) means “lack”.  The concept focuses not so much on the missed target but on the fact that you were aiming at the wrong target.  In other words, Piper says that sin is where you could have had God’s glory as a treasure but you chose something else instead.

 

In Romans 1:23, Paul confirms this concept when he says that people “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image.”  John Piper elaborates on Paul’s statement when he says: “This is the deepest problem with sin – it is a suicidal exchange of infinite value and beauty for some fleeting, inferior substitute.  This is the great insult” to God.  We choose sugarcoated misery while at the same time we mock and dismiss as irrelevant the God upon whom our very existence depends. 

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

While believing that we ourselves are good may be arrogance of the highest order, it is by far not a new problem.  In Jeremiah 2:12-13 we read the Lord’s words saying that the people’s dismissal of God is appalling. 

Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the L
ORD, for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

 

The people had needs that the Lord was ready to provide, but they did not want His help – they wanted to do it their own way without realizing that their way was incapable of satisfying.  

 

Unfortunately, the Old Testament people of Israel are not the only ones who miss the mark, who have traded a counterfeit for the only real, living God, and who sin in word, deed, and thought; it occurs today in 2016 just as it has in all the years since the fall.  We may not have idols of wood or precious metals that we have fashioned with our hands, but we sin in trading God for our bank account, or for our self-confidence, or for our family, or for Hollywood stars, or for our houses, or for our successes, or … well you fill in the blank. 

 

What does this have to do with the Fruit of the Spirit?  A great deal!  Rather than simply wiping everyone out in judgment and condemnation as would be His right, our living, creating and loving God is GOOD. 

 

GOD IS GOOD.  It is a fundamental characteristic of His being and it is the underlying aspect of virtually all that He does, although we do not usually think of it in that way.   He is the source of all goodness.  In other words, Goodness is not an abstract concept – it is personal – it is WHO — it is part of the character of God.  The only reason we know anything at all about goodness is because God, who created us in His image, IS good.

 

Theologian J. I. Packer says God’s “sovereign redemptive love is one facet of the quality that Scripture calls God’s goodness”.  According to Packer, the supreme expression of God’s goodness is His amazing grace and inexpressible love that is evidenced by His saving sinners, who deserve only condemnation, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary

 

Next we week we will speak more of Goodness, its characteristics and how it is evident in our day to day life.  For now, bask in your relationship with our God who is Good and praise Him for his grace and inexpressible love extended to each of us!

 

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, KINDNESS, part two

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 16

 KINDNESS – A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS TO HELP

PART TWO

So how do we show kindness to others – to whom should we be kind – what is kindness, after all?  What does the scripture tell us about these questions?

The greatest kindness we can do for another person is to witness to them of the Great King Jesus and lead them as the Holy Spirit directs toward their salvation and spiritual growth.  Most often, we do this by setting a good example as this is frequently the most effective witness of all, especially if, at the appropriate time, it is accompanied by our words telling of the gospel of the Lord Jesus as the Source of our life in Him.

For our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we help each other in faith and obedience and encourage each other when in trial or temptations.  We can bring spiritual joy and strength to each other as we seek to live for Christ before meeting Him in heaven.

What does Scripture say?

We as Christians are to be kind, not only in a spiritual context but also physically, to both individuals and the world, whether or not they claim Christ as their Savior.

We are told to help others in their difficulties and calamities.  See Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: 35-36.

Kindness for the Christian can be summed up as being kind in three specific ways:

  • By giving to them of those things that they need and we possess.

“Give and it shall be given unto you.”

Luke 6:38

  • By doing for them and making an effort to help them to improve their situation.

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”

I Thessalonians 2: 9

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do;”

Hebrews 6: 10

  • By suffering for them and assisting them in bearing their burdens and in doing everything that we can to lighten those burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”

1 John 3: 16

Now that we know that we are to be kind to others, who are the “others”? Or, another way to put it is, “to whom should we be kind?”

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to be kind to our neighbors, and it expands the definition of neighbor to anyone we meet along life’s way.  Luke 10:29 and following.

That parable, however begs the question: what kind of people are our neighbors so that we can be kind to them?

We are to be kind both to the good and to the bad.  Remember, the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ … we are to imitate God.  We should be kind not just those who we consider good in our own eyes.

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 5: 45

In this regard, Jonathan Edwards has said:

“Some are proud, some immoral, some covetous, some profane, some unjust or severe, and some despisers of God.  But any or all of these bad qualities should not hinder our beneficence [kindness], nor prevent our doing them good as we have opportunity.  On this very account, we should the rather be diligent to benefit them, that we may win them to Christ; and especially should we be diligent to benefit them in spiritual things.”

It also goes without need for elaboration that we should be kind to our friends. But this duty of kindness also extends to our enemies!

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Matthew 5: 44

And, we should be kind to the thankful as well as to the unthankful.   Again, this follows the example of Jesus.  Luke 6: 35 says He “is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil;” It is also consistent with the command that we should be merciful as He is merciful.  Luke 6:36.

How does this apply to my daily life?

We do not deserve God’s kindness and yet He is kind every moment of every day –as He showers us with His blessing and love in Christ Jesus, as He provides for our salvation and eternal life with Him, as He has given His grace and mercy in forgiveness of our sins, even the ones that we keep on doing and which He knows we will continue to do, yet in His infinite love, mercy and kindness He continues to forgive when we come to Him.

Please remember that the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ … and one of Jesus’ attributes was kindness that was extended to those he encountered throughout his life, even to his executioners, including you and me.  He died on the cross because of our sins, and we put him there as surely as any Roman spear or nail.  Such kindness freely given to us should result in an outpouring of love and kindness by us to others, not in our human power as just one more thing we have to do but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Kindness – it is such a common term, so flippantly used, and yet such a profound witness when it comes from a heart prompted by the Holy Spirit.  It is not a last minute thought or a flippant act of little consequence as the world describes; it is a life style of placing others first, of putting yourself in subservience to others so that their needs are met; it is going the extra mile and then some, because Jesus went all the way from heaven, to earth and then to the cross for you, and for me.  Such kindness cannot be repaid by any action on our part, but we can illustrate it to others as best we can, with prayerful praise and as a thankful witness for Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – KINDNESS, part one

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 15

KINDNESS – A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS TO HELP

PART ONE

 

This week we are looking at the fruit of the Spirit called Kindness.

 

There is some confusion about the terms gentleness, kindness and meekness as they appear in various translations of Galatians 5:22-23.  In the King James Version we read:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” 

 

The English Standard Version translates these verses as follows:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

 

Note the words that are underlined  … they are the words that cause some confusion due to varying translations.  Here, we are looking at Kindness – translated Gentleness in the King James.  This will be a bit different than the discussion of “gentleness” we come to later in the English standard version since that in King James is translated as Meekness.  These words are all variations on a theme so don’t expect them to be blue verses red, but they have various nuances that are important for us to incorporate into our lives.  Remember:

 

If it was important enough for the Scripture writer to use different words through the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is important enough for us to understand and to put those nuanced words into effect in our life.

As we all know, kindness is not something that is spoken of only in Scripture … it is a topic, like the other fruit of the Spirit we have studied, that is copied in the world today, although as with the other fruit of the Spirit, the world’s version is a significantly deteriorated version of what the Holy Spirit produces.

Mark Twain said:

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: 

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

The English writer Samuel Johnson said:

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.   

 

Then of course there is the profound negative that “No act of kindness goes unpunished!”  Clearly, kindness is not looked upon favorably by everyone.  If we are honest, even the pagan sees that kindness carries with it a cost which they may not be willing to pay.  It may not be a cost in money, but it may cost time or effort, it may be inconvenient or it may interfere with long-held plans.  

 

What does Scripture say?

 

However, kindness, according to the Holy Spirit, is not an inconvenience to be avoided but a characteristic to be embraced – it is a way of life to be adopted so that it flows naturally from you under all conditions, at all times.  After all, remember that God is our example of loving kindness as He lavishly showers us with kindness through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Scripture we see that kindness follows patience, just as patience follows peace, and it follows joy and all the fruit is based on love.  We might be nice and we might do good things, but the unregenerate man will not be kind in the way that the Holy Spirit would direct because the unregenerate person does not have love for Jesus Christ.

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says

“Kindness is the manifestation of patience and it is born of the fact that we ourselves are objects of God’s kindness.” 

 

As with the other fruit of the Spirit, we are to imitate Christ and extend the fruit of kindness irrespective of whether the individual receiving it appreciates our efforts or even knows that we have done anything for him.  It is because of what Jesus did for us, not what the individual has done or could do for us, that we are kind.

The Greek word for kindness is Chrestotes.  It is the divine kindness out of which God acts toward men.  According to James Montgomery Boice, this kindness is what the Old Testament is referring to when it says “God is good” as it so frequently does.  (Boice, Commentary on Galatians, 5:22-26)

 

We can afford to be kind even if it makes us vulnerable because underneath it all, we are unshakably secure in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

 

The opposite of the fruit of the Spirit of kindness is envy and an inability to rejoice  with another person.  The counterfeit of kindness is manipulative good deeds.  That is, being kind for what you get out of it, not what you are giving to the other person. 

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

Kindness is not a random act of consideration.  Rather, it is a constant state of readiness to help, the extension of God’s grace to the people around us through practical actions of caring.   

 

In fact, it is similar to “goodness” which was a common term among the pagans in that day for complete moral excellence.  In the Galatians 5 list of fruit of the Spirit, goodness is sanctified by the Holy Spirit and it indicates a willingness to be generous.  (Rykers, Reformed Expository Commentary – Galatians) We will study goodness in the coming weeks.

 

Suffice it to say, kindness and goodness are similar, but different.

 

The great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:4  says “Love is patient and kind.”   This is no accident.    Last week we thought about longsuffering/ patience – that is, our remaining steadfast and enduring insults, false statements, physical or emotional injury without revenge or “getting even” no matter how long the injury lasts.  It is L O N G suffering. 

 

Kindness is the companion of longsuffering.  Longsuffering is our personal response of restraint regarding an injury received we do not take action against the wrongdoer.  Kindness is where we do take action – we are kind toward him or her.  We do good to those who hurt us – why?  Because that is what Love does!

 

Next week we will continue to look at kindness and how it is manifested in our lives through the Holy Spirit’s work. 

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – PATIENCE, PART TWO

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 14

PATIENCE – SLOWING DOWN OF GOD’S WRATH

PART TWO

Last week we looked at patience/ longsuffering in our society and how it is defined in the Hebrew and Greek of Scripture.  Now, we will consider what Scripture tells us about how we are to exhibit this patience!

 

What does Scripture say?

 

  1. When we love God we want to imitate Him and, thus, we want to exhibit longsuffering because one of the attributes of God is patience/ longsuffering.

 

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness …”

Exodus 34:6

 

This longsuffering is shown in God’s bearing innumerable, continuous and abhorrent injuries, not just from men in the generic sense but from each of us individually on a daily basis.   In short, it is God’s mercy in being longsuffering and patient so that he is slow to exact judgment on people.

Jonathan Edwards expressed it like this:

“If we consider the wickedness there is in the world, and then consider how God continues the world in existence and does not destroy it, but showers upon it innumerable mercies, the bounties of his daily providence and grace, causing his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sending rain alike on the just and on the unjust and offering his spiritual blessings ceaselessly and to all, we shall perceive how abundant is his longsuffering toward us.”

As children imitate their parents, so we as children of God should imitate our Father – as He is longsuffering, so we should be likewise.

 

  1. When we love God we will want to express our gratitude for His longsuffering that has been exercised toward us.

All the injuries that have been received by us from others pale in comparison with the injuries which we have done to God and for which God has forgiven us!  As we accept the forgiveness of God and His longsuffering on our behalf, we must show, as far as we are able, the same forgiving patience to others when they have harmed us.  We can do this because of our thankfulness and gratitude to God for His forgiveness to us.

 

  1. We are not bearing injuries from others if those injuries disturb our calmness of mind or if they put us into excitement and tumult.

We should continue to have love in our heart toward the one who injured us and refuse to let the injury interrupt or destroy our love for him/her.   We should not lose the quietness and repose of our own mind and heart over the injury we have suffered from someone else.

Remember who we are to imitate and into whose likeness we are being transformed – our Lord Jesus Christ.  No matter what evil he suffered, no matter what injury was inflicted on him, he bore them without retaliation or revenge … he loved the very people who inflicted the injury and he did not get flustered, angry or excited by it.

 

  1. We should be willing to suffer much in our interests and feelings for the sake of peace, rather than to take any opportunity and, perhaps the right, to defending ourselves.

The Christian spirit of longsuffering will refuse to take the advantage that we might have to vindicate ourselves when we are injured, especially if by taking that action we might cause harm to the one who hurt us.   Also, taking the advantage to address the harm will almost always lead to a loss of peace and will create hostility between people.

Paul admonished the Corinthians about this in 1 Corinthians 6:7 where he said:

 “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.  Why not rather suffer wrong?  Why not rather be defrauded?”

Longsuffering may be required for the sake of peace as charity may direct.  This should be our first response to injury.

 

  1. The main root of a meek and longsuffering spirit is humility, and this humility is brought about by our love for God.

Pride or self-conceit is usually the foundation of an unforgiving and vengeful spirit.  Love to God leads us to remember our unworthiness of His mercy and grace because of the sin that we so easily commit.  There is no room for pride when we face the God who has given us so much – His Son.

 

  1. Our love to God enables us to recognize His sovereignty. In other words, God’s hand is in the injury that we suffer, not only the hand of the man who did the injury, and we will submit to God’s will in everything. 

When we love God, we will see His hand in everything as He is sovereign.  Remember agape love – one aspect of that love is that we acknowledge God’s absolute right to govern us in all aspects of our life.  Our response to the injury from another person should be to see that it actually came through God’s love and wisdom for our good and for His own purpose for our life.

Remember what Joseph said to his brothers when they came to him in Egypt seeking relief from the famine:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Genesis 50:20

Joseph recognized God’s sovereign hand at work, even in the horrible treatment given to him by his brothers.  When he had a chance to retaliate, he declined and, instead, gave them a place to live and food for their families and flocks.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

  • We meekly bear with the injuries received from others.

There is no eye for an eye or tit for tat.  Christ is the example.  Jonathan Edwards summarizes this eloquently in Lecture iv:

“And, at last, when he was most ignominiously dealt with of all, when his professed friend betrayed, and his enemies seized him, and led him away to scourging and the death of the cross, he went as a lamb to slaughter, opening not his mouth.  Not one word of bitterness escaped him.  There was no interruption of the calmness of his mind under his heavy distress and sufferings, nor was there the least desire for revenge.  But, on the contrary, he prayed for his murderers, that they might be forgiven, even when they were about nailing him to the cross; and not only prayed for them, but pleaded in their behalf with his Father that they knew not what they did.  The sufferings of his life and the agonies of his death did not interrupt his long-suffering towards those that injured him.”

 

  • The spirit of longsuffering is commended to us not only by the example of Jesus Christ, but also by the example of the saints.

Think of Stephen – Acts 7:59-60 when his persecutors were killing him by stoning, he kneeled down and prayed that the Lord would not hold this sin against them, and then he died.

Think of Paul – Although he was injured numerous times, 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, he exhibited a spirit of longsuffering when, after being beaten and chained, he was singing in prison so loudly that the other prisoners heard him and the jailer and his family were converted.  Acts 16.

Think of the 1st century Christian martyrs. We cannot ignore their example of longsuffering during the horrific persecution of Nero and the rulers who came after him, even in our modern age throughout areas of the world which do not touch the U.S. but of which we are aware!

 

  • This longsuffering on the part of the Christian is rewarded with the exercise of Divine longsuffering toward us.

 

We are often told in Scriptures that men are to be dealt with by God hereafter according to their way of dealing with others while here on earth.

With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

Psalm 18:25, 26

 

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:14-15

 

If you are hurt by the action or speech of someone, before taking steps to get even or to set the record straight, pray that the Holy Spirit would enable you to be patient and longsuffering.  Pray that you would love the individual as God loves you and extend patient longsuffering toward the other person while you remember God’s longsuffering toward you on a daily basis.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, PATIENCE, part one

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 13

PATIENCE – SLOWING DOWN OF GOD’S WRATH

PART ONE

The fruit of the Spirit at issue this week is Patience, also known as longsuffering.

 

I have no doubt that each of us has, at one time in our life or another, said that we want patience but we don’t want to wait for it!   Mr. Paul Sweeney asked a question that I have raised a number of times in general conversation:

“How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?”

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:  Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”

 

Hal Borland said:  “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”

 

The patience that we are speaking of as a fruit of the Holy Spirit is different than that which has its basis in the person or in society in general.  The patience that is referenced in Galatians 5 is grounded in the Holy Spirit.

What does Scripture say?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:21-22.

 

The longsuffering that is a fruit of the Spirit stems, as do the other characteristics that we have examined, from love of Jesus Christ our Lord and comes from the Holy Spirit, as we are being transformed into the image of our Lord.

 

In Hebrew, the word longsuffering is a combination of the words Arek and Aph which mean, respectively, Long and Nose. (By the way, the word Aph or nostril first appears in Scripture in Genesis 2:7 where we are told “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”)

 

So the literal meaning of the Hebrew word for longsuffering is “long of nose” with reference to “long breathing”.  Because anger was indicated by rapid, violent breathing through the nostrils, this term meant “long of anger,” or “slow to wrath.”  In the ESV the word longsuffering is translated “slow to anger.”

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” 

Psalm 86:15

 

Longsuffering, in the Greek context, is the word makrothumia, and it is a bit more expanded in definition.  It relates to “long of mind or soul” which is regarded as the seat of the emotions.  This is in contrast to “shortness of mind or soul”, in other words irascibility, impatience, or intolerance.

 

Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church defines makrothumia found in Galatians 5 as the “ability to take trouble (from others or life) without blowing.  To suffer joyfully.”  Strong’s Lexicon explains that this term is the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong.  Its opposite is revenge or wrath.

 

Longsuffering is attributed to God in connection with his “bearing long” with sinners and His intentional delay in executing judgment on them, thereby allowing time for them to come to Him in repentance.

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

 

Now the God of patience [macrothumia] and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus, that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (KJV)

Romans 15: 5-6

 

We are also to be longsuffering toward others.

Be patient [macrothumia], therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.

James 5:7

 

The Apostle Paul associates longsuffering with endurance which suggests patient endurance of trials and sufferings, and its further association with joy indicates a joyful acceptance of the will of God, whatever it may be.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.

Colossians 1:11

 

In this regard, Matthew Henry defines long-suffering as patience to defer anger, and a contentedness to bear injuries.

 

Christians are frequently admonished and exhorted to cherish and show longsuffering toward one another.   For example:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience [longsuffering], bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:12.

 

This is not the type of patience that waits in the line at the bank, without screaming for service, but with the foot tapping in frustration.  Rather, this kind of patience is not available by our own efforts, it comes from reliance on the Holy Spirit and, just as the other fruit of the Spirit, this fruit is not available to the unregenerate man.  It is a mark of the Christian as she is being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

 

It is in reliance on God and acceptance of His will, with trust in His sovereignty, goodness, wisdom and faithfulness, that we are enabled to endure and to hope steadfastly through the power that the Holy Spirit provides as we lean on Him and learn of Him.  We look to Jesus as our chief example to imitate – He was the penultimate example of longsuffering patience throughout his life, death and even after His resurrection.

How does this apply to my daily life?

Does this patience/ longsuffering have relevance to our modern life? YES.   Just look at what David describes in Psalm 55 when he realizes Ahithophel had betrayed him, and consider how this relates to the feelings you experienced upon betrayal and disappointment.

For it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me – then I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.  We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. 

Psalm 55:12-14

 

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Psalm 55, said of the hurt that we can experience even from our “Christian friends”,

There always has been, and always will be, a mixture of good and bad, sound and unsound, in the visible church, between whom, perhaps for a long time, we can discern no difference; but the searcher of hearts does. David, who went to the house of God in his sincerity, had Ahithophel in company with him, who went in his hypocrisy. The Pharisee and the publican went together to the temple to pray; but, sooner or later, those that are perfect and those that are not will be made manifest.

 

However, while recognizing the universality of disappointment or emotional sabotage, Scripture teaches that longsuffering or patience does not permit either retaliation or revenge!

 

The Christian has the duty to bear the injuries suffered from others even if it requires longsuffering. This means that we do not bring any immediate suffering on the one who injured us.  We are not to show any bitterness toward him, either in speech or in action.

 

Is this hard?  Yes.  Is it commanded? Yes.  Does it require the Holy Spirit to work in us?  Yes.

 

Quoting from Deuteronomy 32:35, the Apostle Paul said:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:19

 

Next week we will consider how this patience is evidenced in our lives.  In the meantime, consider how you can relate to those who have hurt you in the past and ask the Holy Spirit to grant you the patience and longsuffering that you need so that you can respond in love and not bitterness.

 

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 12 – PEACE part three.

 

PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PART THREE

 

We have been talking about the peace that the believer has in Jesus Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, I am going to ask a question –

 

  • Try to suppose for a moment that your religion has been withdrawn from you. In other words, try to conceive yourself without your faith, though in every other way you, and your circumstances, are unchanged.

 

Now – tell me,

  • Would you be appreciably the poorer?
  • Would anyone detect that something was different or that some secret thing had passed away?

 

What does Scripture say?

 

Rev. George Morrison, a pastor in London in the late 1800s asked these questions when he was preaching on Romans 15:13 where Paul says

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” 

 

Rev. Morrison continued to ask his congregation:  “Do we go up and down the world with a glad peace because we believe in God through Jesus Christ?  It is to that that we are called, whatever our temperament or our lot.”

 

He recognized that the fruit of the Spirit is ours, “whatever our temperament or our lot” might be.  In other words, external circumstances do not control the existence of the fruit of the Spirit.  We HAVE the Holy Spirit within us and He desires to grow the fruit in our hearts.

 

So, if we are to go up and down the world with a glad peace because we believe in God through Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, what does it look like?

 

It is not a peace I described at the beginning of this series that is based on our own efforts at trying to be peaceful.

 

In the The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary, we find the following regarding John 14:27:

“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.” 

Peace.  A frequent word in connection with farewells.  But this is a legacy rather than merely a conventional touch. …  My peace.  A distinctive brand of peace, different from that of the world, which would be panic-stricken at such an hour as this, with death so near.  The gift of his peace would make his followers unafraid, as he was. (cf. 16:33).

 

Here, the peace that is described in Scripture comes, as did joy, from the wellspring of Love for Jesus Christ and the Father.  Jonathan Edwards called Love the Sum of all Christianity.  If we do not have Love, we cannot have spiritual joy; and, we cannot have spiritual peace if we do not have joy.  They flow from each other and all stem from Love.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says that peace as a fruit of the Spirit means that we have a new capacity to live at peace with others and ourselves.   I can have this peace with myself and with others because, as the definition of peace explains, I rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God more than in my own.

 

What does it look like?   Perhaps the language of Paul is instructive when he says in Ephesians 4:1-3 that we should walk in a “manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

 

We are unified with each other in the BOND OF PEACE.  This unity is referenced again in Colossians 3:15:

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”

 

In all honesty and fairness, I have to throw in a caveat here:  We must recognize that living in peace with others is the goal, but it is not always possible.  The writer of Hebrews recognized this and said:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

 

In Romans 12:18 we read:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 

 

Should we seek peace with others at all costs?  No.  The Scripture says that we should be peaceable as far as it depends on us.  If there is something we can do to accomplish peace, we should do it.

 

But we must realize that just like it takes 2 to tango, it takes 2 to be at peace with each other.  We cannot force someone else to be at peace with us … that is their issue.  Just like forgiveness, we must forgive others … what they do with it is their business.

 

How should we guide our life to encourage the growth of the fruit of the Spirit of peace, I suggest Philippians 4:6-9 would be a great place to start:

 

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 

 

Meditate on these verses as you listen to Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song entitled “Mediate on These Things.”

 

Amen, and amen.

 

My prayer is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to come into your life and touch your heart with His peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Don’t fret – your life in Christ is protected by the best guard you could ask for, the very Spirit of the Holy God.  That is peace!

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 11, PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PART TWO

We have previously spoken of the peace, shalom, that we find in the Old Testament.  Now, let’s look at peace in the New Testament.

What does Scripture say?

Peace is a prominent feature of the Messiah – Jesus is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Greek word for peace, which is transliterated as eirēnē and pronounced ā-rā’-nā, is the word used by Paul in Galatians 5.  It has much the same meaning as Shalom has in the Old Testament.

  • The gospel of Christ is a message of peace from God to men.

In Acts 10:36 we read:

“As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, …” 

Paul says in Romans 5:1:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

  • This peace is also between people, see for an example Ephesians 2 regarding Jews and Gentiles.

 

  • Further, this peace is an essential element in the spiritual kingdom of God

Romans 14:17 says:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

 

  • Peace is to be cherished and followed by Christians. Jesus told His disciples:

Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another”

Mark 9:50.

Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers:

“Live in peace: and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

2 Corinthians 13:11.

 

  • God is the God of Peace.

Paul says:

“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. ”  

2 Thessalonians 3:16.

How can Paul say this?  He notes the basis for this prayer for peace is found in the nature of God Himself:

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”

1 Corinthians 14:33

 

  • Lastly, we have “peace” as a greeting. It was the Lord’s own greeting to His disciples as found in Luke 24:36 “Peace to you” and before He left them He gave them specially His blessing of “Peace” in John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. “ 

 

Jesus well knew that He was the source of true peace.  But, there is a short caveat that must be raised here, and it refers to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34-39 where He said that He did not come “to send peace on the earth, but a sword,” referring to the searching nature of His call and the divisions it would create.  In the Wycliffe Bible Commentary on the New Testament, we read the following regarding verse 34:

Jesus explains that his message, delivered in a rebellious and wicked world, would be met with hostility.  Sword: A symbol of sharp conflict and division, as shown by examples in verses 35-36.

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says it this way in TableTalk Magazine, in an article entitled “Fearing the Right Person”:

However, though Christ brings the sword, He does not create the conflict. The peace Jesus offers comes on terms many refuse to accept. Strife comes not directly from the Lord’s hand, but from the response of secondary, human agents who hate Him and those who embrace the Gospel. Saying that He brings the sword is a Semitic way of attributing an indirect result of His mission to Himself even though He is not to blame for the outcome. Christ does not directly set family members against one another; those who reject the Lord are the culprits.  See Romans 9:19-20.

Of course, the spirit of the gospel and of the Christian is one of peace, and it is a Christian duty to seek to bring war and strife everywhere to an end. This is represented as the ultimate result of the gospel and Spirit of Christ; universal and permanent peace can come only as that Spirit rules in all men’s hearts.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

When things seem to go flying out of control, you don’t need to panic or react in a frenzy.  Be at peace.  Slow down … let the dust settle while you seek the Lord and His guidance for you at that time.  You will have peace even when people around you go crazy because the Holy Spirit is within you and peace is one aspect of the fruit that He desires to grow in your life.  Let Him grace you with peace.

 

In his book entitled The Holiness of God, [Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 151] Dr. R. C. Sproul says:

In His last will and testament, Jesus left His heirs something else, something very special: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27)

This is the legacy of Christ: peaceIt is His peace that is our inheritance.  He gives the gift in a way that is different from gifts that are given in this world.  There are no ulterior motives and no sinister strings attached.  He give us His peace not for His benefit but for ours. It is an otherworldly gift given in an otherworldly manner. It is ours to keep forever.

 

This peace is referred to in the Old Testament as well, when the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 26:3:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” 

 

Listen to this verse as sung on Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Songs album entitled Overcoming Anxiety.

 

 

Next week we will conclude our consideration of peace as a fruit of the Spirit.  Until then, ask the Spirit to give you His Peace even as you face difficult circumstances, and then spread that peace to those God puts in your path.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Post 10, PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PEACE – TRANQUILITY OF ORDER

PART ONE

For the most part, the world thinks of peace in negative terms such as the absence of hostility, or perhaps the absence of tension.  As with the other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, the Biblical view of the term is quite different.

 

Augustine of Hippo defined peace as “The tranquility of order.”  In the context of this definition, he said there are three applications of this type of peace:

Peace with God – or the spiritual order

Peace on earth – or the relational order

Peace of God — or the psychological order.

 

What does Scripture say?

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:21-22.

 

Martin Luther said that the word “peace” in Galatians 5 means that the Christian is at peace with both God and man, Luther going further into how we should conduct ourselves, saying:

 

Christians are to be peaceful and quiet. Not argumentative, not hateful, but thoughtful and patient.

 

In his book, The Holiness of God, Dr. R. C. Sproul states:

 

For the Christian, the holy war is over: the peace has been established.  Access to the Father is ours.  But we still must tremble before our God.  He is still holy.  Our trembling is the tremor of awe and veneration, not the trembling of the coward or the pagan frightened by the rustling of a leaf.  Luther explained it this way: “We are to fear God not with a servile fear like that of a prisoner before his tormentor but as children who do not wish to displease their beloved Father.”  We come to Him in confidence; we come to Him in boldness; we have access.  We have a holy peace.

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 153

 

Both the Greek and the Hebrew word for peace have the same meaning — confidence and rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God more than in your own.   The opposite of peace is anxiety and worry.  The world’s counterfeit of true peace is indifference, or perhaps apathy, having an “I don’t care” attitude.

 

According to Strong’s Lexicon, there are a number of words in Hebrew that refer to peace and its various definitions.  The Hebrew word with which we are most familiar is, in English, shalom.

Image result for shalom

Its transliteration is shalowm and it is pronounced shä·lōm’.

 

This Hebrew word means:

  1. completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
    1. completeness (in number)
    2. safety, soundness (in body)
    3. welfare, health, prosperity
    4. peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment
    5. peace, friendship
  2. Shalom embodies the concept of completeness, wholeness, harmony and fulfillment. It is unimpaired relationship with God and man and fulfillment in one’s undertakings.    The source of Shalom peace is God.

 

Looking at its use in the Old Testament:

 

  • It referred to a condition of freedom from disturbance, whether outwardly, as of a nation from war or enemies, or inwardly, within the soul. To a people harassed by foes, peace was the primary blessing. In Psalm 122:7, shalom is translated “security” where it is said:

“Peace be within your walls and security within your towers.” 

 

  • Shalom was the common friendly greeting, used in asking after the health of anyone; also in farewells. Genesis 29:6 “He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well!” This phrase literally meaning “Is there peace to him?” This is again exampled in Judges 6:23 where Scripture says:

“But the Lord said to him, Peace be to you. Do not fear, you shall not die.”

 

  • Peace from enemies, thus implying prosperity, was the great desire of the nation and was the gift of God if the people walked in His ways. Aaron’s blessing to the people of Israel was dictated by the Lord and it is found in Numbers 6:24-26. We frequently hear it in benediction at the end of our worship:

The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

  • In Leviticus 26:6, God makes promises to the people of Israel for peace if they follow his laws:

“I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.”

  • In Isaiah 26:3-4 we have the promise:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” 

This verse actually says in the Hebrew: “you keep him in peace peace
whose mind is stayed on you”.  Also note the reason for this peace, in verse 4 we read the Lord God is an everlasting rock.  Talk about a good foundation for peace!

How does this apply to my daily life?

We certainly are not done considering peace and what it means as a part of the fruit of the Spirit that indwells the believer.  But for now, I would ask that you read the Bible references above in your own Bible, translations and paraphrases.

 

  • Consider what the Old Testament people desired for peace and what God says will come if they obey His commands.

 

  • Consider what you desire for peace and how it might reveal itself in your life through the Holy Spirit.

 

  • Consider having peace peace … perfect peace. Let this thought comfort you during this week. Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to do this, even before we go into consideration of peace in the New Testament.

 

Here, Damaris sings the song “I Sing Peace” taken from her album The Heart of God.  Enjoy listening to her as you consider having perfect peace this week.

 

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.