Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
Continuing our discussion, the following characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit are a result of obtaining the previous virtues: love, joy, and peace. It is not really possible to produce the following six virtues without having the first three. We should also note that love, joy, and peace direct our attention toward God. These next three direct our attention toward our fellow man.
(NIV says “Forbearance” and the KJV, NKJV, ASV render the word as “Longsuffering.”) How we could all use a little more patience! This is a word that means one is willing to accept and bear injury (Matt. 18:21-35; Luke 17:3-5; Eph. 4:32). Literally, it means being “long-tempered” (the opposite of short-tempered)! Vine’s Dictionary states that “Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy, and is used of God.” We must remember that God is, and has been, extremely patient toward us. Without His divine grace we would not have salvation – it came from His patience! What is the purpose of God’s longsuffering toward us according to 2 Peter 3:7-9, 15? Also, what does the apostle Paul say that patience will lead to in Romans 2:4?The best way to begin developing longsuffering in your spiritual walk is through love and prayer. But, don’t ask for patience if you are not ready! This is because the best way to “get” patience is to be put in those situations that require it. That is how you develop patience! Perhaps, try serving more at church, in your community, and any way you can find – it will always require patience.
(The KJV renders it as Gentleness) This attribute implies that one is mild, or pleasant. It also means being virtuous (moral goodness) and benevolent. It is a quality of a person who is friendly. It is a sweetness of attitude, as in someone who is easy to get along with and easy to please. This grace comes to one who is not constantly complaining, but instead, to one who is ever kind and pleasant. Gentleness is merely the attitude of kindness.1 Corinthians 13:4 speaks of a love that is “kind.” Jesus is described as one who appeared because of God’s kindness (Titus 3:4). Wouldn’t it be nice if this personality trait were more prevalent in people of our society today?
In order to develop kindness in your spiritual walk, you must, again, begin with prayer. Then, just determine within your heart to be kind (Ephesians 4:32). How hard is it to be kind and gentle to others? Seriously? One can easily note the kindness of someone in their speech. So, remember, words can deeply affect and seriously hurt a sensitive person (James 3:2-8).
Closely connected with kindness. This word means “uprightness of heart and life,” (Thayer). The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says this word “indicates the quality which a man has who is ‘agathos’ [good] and therefore moral excellence as well as goodness.” It is “the state or quality of being good; kindly feeling; kindness; generosity; excellence of quality; the best part of anything; essence; strength.” (Dictionary.com). Some think that goodness is the practical manifestation of kindness. It implies that one has an interest in others and sharing in order to help those in need. It is shown in one’s speech, their generosity, and their willingness to forgive offenses (Proverbs 15:1; Philippians 2:4; Matthew 7:12). Producing the fruit of goodness in your life means there is always a disposition to do good and help others, (1 John 3:18; James 2:15-16). This is Christian love in action!
How might you develop goodness in your spiritual walk? Start with prayer (have you noticed that each of these start with prayer?) This is because we must never forget that the Fruit of the Spirit is God’s work! It is not ours! Read Galatians 6:10 and figure out how this might apply to you. Seek out ways to do something good for others. Perhaps, you could just do random acts of goodness, be generous, or something that allows others to see your love for Jesus. Talking is okay but practice makes perfect!Next week, we will consider the remaining three graces of the Fruit of the Spirit. – TS