In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul expresses the need for true, genuine faith in Christ. He also encourages the church to see the conflict between the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We must choose whether to feed our soul or our flesh. Paul provides a list of nine great characteristics of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” The fruit of the Spirit can be divided into three main groups: 1) Bearing Natural Fruit For God - “love, joy, peace”; 2) Bearing Natural Fruit For Others - “longsuffering, kindness, goodness”; 3) Bearing Natural Fruit For Ourselves - “faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Let’s consider the second of these three groups…
Long-suffering should be natural because God is long-suffering (Romans 2:4). We may think of the patience of Job or Paul, but no one is more patient than God! As we strive for maturity we need to let patience work in us (James 1:2-4). It is hard to suffer long, but looking to Jesus’ great example can help us. Think about His temptation, His trials, and His death. When hardship comes our way, we need to be more like Jesus. We must stand fast in the Lord and learn to suffer for Christ (Colossians 1:9-12, I Timothy 1:17). Are you bearing the fruit of longsuffering?
Kindness should be natural because God is kind (Ephesians 2:4-7). In the garden of Eden, God created all things to be of the same kind (fish, animal, fruit, etc.). We are made in the likeness, kindness, of God (Genesis 1:27). To be “kind” is to be like God in every sense of the word. To be “kind” to others around us means to be humane, sympathetic, and understanding (Romans 2:3-4, 11:22, 12:10, Colossians 3:12-17). We should practice the golden rule and treat others like we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Are you bearing the fruit of kindness?
Goodness should be natural because God is good (James 1:17). We remind ourselves that God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good! Paul teaches us that if we want to experience the goodness of God we have to walk with Him (Romans 15:14). As we walk with Him, He will teach us His ways. He will teach us how to be good, to walk in righteousness, and guide others to the path of life (Psalm 25:8, 136, II Thessalonians 1:11-12, Titus 3:4-5). Are you bearing the fruit of goodness?
It would serve us well to consider what it need to please God and edify others. This is a key ingredient in the work of the kingdom. In our final article we will consider the need to bear natural fruit for others. Keep studying and have a great week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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