FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 25, ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 25

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – THE CONCLUSION

ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

 

The concept of the Holy Spirit is not new.  The Trinity has been alive and well long before creation!  God is, was and always will be.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit was present at creation when he “hovered over the waters” and gave form and structure to the universe the Father had created.  The Holy Spirit worked not just in the broad creation activity but also within specific people who God prepared, with His Spirit, to do His work throughout the millennia. 

 

We read in Exodus 31:1-5 where God told Moses that He had filled Bezalel with the spirit of God, “in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship to devise cunning works, to work in gold, in silver and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship” for the building of the tabernacle and of the fixtures to be used in the worship of God.   Clearly, God prepared His people to properly worship him, even in the wilderness, by providing gifts to certain people to do specific work that He had ordained for them to do. 

 

In the New Testament days the Holy Spirit came down and filled the believers and gave them specific gifts for the same reason He gifted people in the Old Testament days, to do the specific work that God wanted them to do His worship and for His church.  The gifts of the Spirit are listed in various places including in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. 

 

But separate from the gifts of the Spirit are the fruit of the Spirit – the fruit being what grows out of the Spirit’s presence in our life.  Fruit is not the result of our own work – we cannot create the fruit and we cannot earn the fruit: we have it because the Spirit lives within us and we can only give the fruit life as it grows through the Spirit’s power.

 

You will recall that the primary characteristic of the various gifts of the Spirit is that they are active and visible.  The gifts are not inside the believer or quiet.  They are in full sight of others and almost always they are exercised for the benefit of other people.  In short, the gifts of the Spirit usually get a lot of press.

 

Not so with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Generally speaking, the fruit of the Spirit is quiet, internal.  There may be actions that come out of the fruit of the Spirit in the believer, and those actions would be observed by others, but the fruit itself is internal to the believer personally.  The Holy Spirit’s fruit for each and every Christian is found in Galatians 5:22-23.   The following verses note these attributes of our God, and of His Son – attributes, fruit, that we are to grow as we conform to the likeness of Christ:

Love – Matthew 22:37-40

Joy – John 16:33

Peace – Philippians 4:9

Patience – Colossians 3:12

Kindness – Luke 6:35

Goodness – Titus 3:4-5

Faithfulness – Matthew 23:23

Gentleness, Humility, Meekness – Matthew 5:9

Self-Control – 2  Timothy 1:7

 

Paul concludes this listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 with the statement “Against such there is no law.”   At first glance, this could be considered a parallelism where Paul is comparing the works of the flesh listed in earlier verses that are clearly against the law with the fruit of the Spirit that is just as clearly lawful.  Calvin, in his commentary on Galatians, says: 

Some understand these words as meaning simply that the law is not directed against good works.  But Paul’s real meaning is deeper and less obvious; namely, that, where the Spirit reigns, the law has no longer any dominion. By molding our hearts to his own righteousness, the Lord delivers us from the severity of the law, so that [we are] not regulated by its covenant, nor our consciences bound by its sentence of condemnation. Yet the law continues to teach and exhort, and thus performs its own office; but our subjection to it is withdrawn by the Spirit of adoption.

 

Rykers says: 

This catalogue of spiritual virtues is not exhaustive.  Paul hints at this when he refers to the fruit of the Spirit as “such things” (Gal. 5:23).  Some graces that are not on this list, such as hope, for example, or godliness, appear elsewhere in the New Testament.  Once again, the point is not so much the specific character traits as it is the entire lifestyle they represent

 

The contrast between the special produce of the Spirit and the bitter fruit of the sinful nature could hardly be sharper.  The fruit of the Spirit is the very opposite of the works of the flesh.   The Spirit brings forth good fruit from a good tree, the product of a whole new spiritual nature in Christ.  Further, we do not grow this fruit on our own.  This is why it is called the fruit of the Spirit rather than the works of the Spirit.   Mr. S. H. Hooke comments:  

“A vine does not produce grapes by Act of Parliament; they are the fruit of the vines own life; so the conduct which conforms to the standard of the Kingdom is not produced by any demand, not even God’s, but it is the fruit of that divine nature which God gives as the result of what he has done in and by Christ.  This fruit of the Spirit is the natural product of his gracious inward influences, the spontaneous and inevitable result of his uniting us to Jesus Christ.  It will take time to grow, but grow it must, for God will make it grow.  What we are to do in the meantime is cultivate this spiritual fruit.

 

Walk in the Spirit

Although the virtues in Galatians 5 are given by God through the Spirit, we cannot use the metaphor of fruit in a way that would stress only the “given” quality of the virtues and thus imply an ethical passivity on the Christian’s part.  Indeed, combined with the givenness of these virtues by God is the believer’s active involvement in expressing them in his or her own lifestyle – or as Paul puts it pointedly a couple verses later:  “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:25 

 

The point of the phrase “let us keep in step with the Spirit” puts the emphasis on the obligation of Christian living as being neither based on legal prescriptions nor being based on the dictates of the flesh but to the Spirit, who directs and enables and who is fully sufficient both for bringing to birth a believer’s new life “in Christ” and for effecting a truly Christian lifestyle. 

 

The purpose of this study is to remind us that we are far more in need of growth in the fruit of the Spirit than we thought.  We tend to look at our natural strengths as a sign that we are Christ-like.  Though God makes the world a very good place because he grants so many people natural strengths, they are not the same as the fruit of the Spirit.  Indeed, we have seen that most of the fruit of the Spirit mandates actions that are contrary to our earthly inclinations. 

 

This is true because the fruit of the Spirit is intended to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  It is His nature that we are to develop while here on earth and it is His nature that will be a witness of His power to the world around us. 

 

  • So, even though there will be no more weekly studies in this series, from this day forward you can walk in the Spirit.
  • Allow the characteristics of our Lord to become evident in your life so that we truly are being transformed into the image of our Savior.
    • Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
  • Let the Spirit enliven and magnify these qualities in your life as you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Walk in the Spirit.

 

PRAYER [a portion of a Puritan’s prayer]:  Father, Lord of the Universe and Creator of all things, we come before you at the conclusion of this study on the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Lord, the Holy Spirit was given to increase your graces in our heart.  We cannot preserve or improve on them unless the Holy Spirit works continually in us.   May the Holy Spirit confirm our trust in you and your promised help and let us walk humbly in reliance on the Holy Spirit as we live our lives before you.  We ask this in your beloved name, Lord Jesus, Amen.

 

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.