And so we reach the conclusion of our Trilogy on the Fruit of the Spirit.
Now, we wanted the youngsters to understand how the Fruit could be applied in their everyday life, so we played a version of the “Good Fruit, Bad Fruit” game. You will see from the picture that we drew a good and a bad apple on a whiteboard, then taped clearfiles at the bottom to hold pieces of paper. On the paper were a variety of actions which had to be classified as “Good Fruit” or “Bad Fruit” – some of the examples we used were: “hitting your brother or sister”; “taking turns when playing games”; “sharing your toys”; “getting angry when things don’t go your way”. We helped the younger ones with the reading, and they then chose which “apple” to put each one with. I am pleased to say that they got them all right!!
FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL – FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT 3
7 July 2013
This is the last instalment of our trilogy on the Fruit of the Spirit. So here’s a quick recap on the two previous ones:
Love: 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love as perfect love drives out fear. The place to get love is from God, for God is love. We need to fill that moment of fear, anger, hate or frustration with the love of God.
Joy: Happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness depends on our circumstances and is momentary. Joy is deep-rooted and constant and comes from the Holy Spirit.
Peace: 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of Peace himself grant you His peace at all times, and in all ways whatever comes. Peace is with and of God. We can’t have the peace of God until we have a piece of God, and that comes from having a personal relationship with God.
Patience: True patience is quiet, peaceful, unwavering and strong. Patience reveals our faith in God’s timing, almighty power and love. Patience does not develop overnight . James 1:3-4 encourages us to know that trials are His way of perfecting our patience.
Kindness: Kindness is a verb, a doing word. You need to act to be kind, you need to do or even in some cases not do – to be kind. No small act of kindness is ever wasted.
Goodness: Feeling good and being good are not the same thing. There are things that make us feel good that are not good for us. Goodness is not a quality we can manufacture on our own. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”
And so finally we reach the last three: faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
When I started this I wondered what the actual definition of faith is.
According to Webster’s Dictionary faith is “an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.” Or from the Bible in Hebrews 11: 1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” You know, I like the Bible’s version better … Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
A few verses later it says “whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists”. So at the very very beginning of any of us knowing God, that first step in having a personal relationship with Him, is that first moment of faith that it takes to acknowledge Him, and believe He exists.
Indeed faith is essential as Christians:
We are saved by faith (Eph 2:8-9)
We live by faith (Rom 1:7)
We become right with God by faith (Rom 4:13)
We walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor 5:7)
We receive the promise of the Spirit by faith (Gal 3:14)
We wait for the return of Christ by faith (Gal 5:5) and
We stand firm in our belief by faith (2 Cor 1:24).
Standing firm in our belief by faith is what brings me from faith to faithfulness. It is the constancy of faith through time, through good times and bad times. God never said that it would be ALL smooth sailing when we became Christians, what he did say was “I will be there with you in the midst of the storm”. Faithfulness in the times of joy and plenty, when life is easy, it is all going your way, green lights on your journey of life. Faithfulness in the times of doubt, despair and disaster, when life is hard, it‘s all going against you, when it’s red lights and roadblocks on your journey of life.
I think it is harder to have faith in times of good when you can start to think you need no-one, rather in the times when we cry out for help. Whatever season or time each one of us are in, the only way we can have a constant faithfulness is by the Holy Spirit’s influence.
Gentleness, translated in some Bibles as “meekness,” does not mean weakness. Rather, it is polite, restrained behaviour toward others.
Everyone is powerful . Every one of us has power. We can say things and act in ways that hurt others. Sometimes it is what we say and do that hurts others. Sometimes it is what we don’t say and what we don’t do that hurts others.
Gentleness is knowing we have the power to hurt, but choosing to do what is right, choosing to do what Jesus would do. It is mind-blowingly hard to be gentle when we get aggravated, frustrated or angry, when we want to react in a very natural human way. When our very essence aches to retaliate, it can take all our strength not to show our strength.
Gentleness is placing our strength under God’s guidance and the Spirit is the one who guides us. The Spirit is the one who gives us the wisdom to see how and when we can be gentle. And the Spirit is the one who gives us the strength to be gentle, because sometimes it is hard to bite our tongue or keep our arms by our sides.
When Gail and I decided to follow on from Pentecost with the Fruit of the Spirit, I laughed when I learnt what they all were: (sorry I now do this in song form): Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Why did I laugh – it was that last one. The one we are up to now: self-control. I could say I have nothing to say because I have none. Honestly I struggle to have just one chocolate biscuit, when shopping I struggle to leave what I think I need, when really it is only something I want and honestly, sometimes I just like being naughty.
Self-control is, of course, the ability to control oneself. It involves constraint, and the ability to say “no” to our desires. You never need self-control for something we don’t like, don’t want and don’t desire. Seriously who needs self-control when eating brussel sprouts – I can easily leave one on the plate and not even raise a sweat! Now a hokey pokey squiggle top chocolate biscuit – that is a whole different story.
So how is self-control a fruit of the Spirit? Who else can make us aware that we are on automatic pilot and over-indulging; who else can give us the strength to say no or to walk away?
So the fruit of the Spirit is
LOVE including difficult people
JOY in trying times
PEACE in all circumstances
PATIENCE when busy
KINDNESS to all around you
GOODNESS by helping others
FAITHFULNESS is constant
GENTLENESS and not harsh
SELF CONTROL in daily choices
So finally we want these qualities now – but it is fruit we are talking about. Some things we pray for come instantly, but fruit doesn’t. A seed needs to be planted in the right soil, shoots appear, it blossoms and then fruit forms and ripens as it matures. It’s a process. When we appreciate and wonder at the marvel of God’s love for us by the gift of his son Jesus so that we can all have our very own relationship with Him, then we are motivated to respond in ways that please Him, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to walk in ways we previously thought impossible. We shall stumble and fall at times, of course, but remember we are on a journey of spiritual growth.
Once again I tell us it’s a process – as we are tested we grow.
You may may also want to check out this video presentation on the Fruit of the Spirit, available on the Godtube website: