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 last of these three groups…
Faithfulness should be natural because God is faithful (Romans 3:3). The Old Testament confirms God’s faithfulness. He is faithful to keep His promises (Psalm 145:13). God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20). However, we have to take the steps of faith that are necessary for salvation because these promises are for His children (Acts 2:37-39). Paul truly understood the need for faithfulness in the church (I Corinthians 4:14-17; II Timothy 2:2). Are you bearing the fruit of faithfulness?
Gentleness should be natural because God is gentle (II Corinthians 10:1). Later in his writings, specifically in Philippians 4:5-7, Paul encourages us to make gentleness known to all of mankind. To be gentle means to practice humility (Romans 12:16). We cannot allow pride or jealousy to overwhelm us. Those are the ways of the world. Instead, we need to seek the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Jesus was meek, lowly, and humble (Matthew 11:18-20). Are you bearing the fruit of gentleness?
Self-control should be natural because God has self-control (Ephesians 1:11-12). He is not tempted by evil (James 1:13). Paul was not afraid to speak about the need to control yourself (Acts 24:15, Romans 6:20-23, I Corinthians 7:5,9, Titus 2:1-6). It is interesting that Paul ends with self-control which is arguably the hardest virtue. This fruit also bring us back full-circle to the works of the flesh. We have an obvious choice to make. Are you bearing the fruit of self-control?
Jesus encouraged His disciples to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and a city on a hill (Matthew 5:13-15). God chooses to use us, and our example, to bring glory to Himself (Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:15). The world, of course, will hate us and reject us. They abhor the wholesome fruit of the spirit and the pure ideals of truth because they reject God. Instead they seek after “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” which lead them further away from God (Galatians 5:19-21). Those inside the kingdom of God refuse to follow the path of wickedness. We seek the straight and narrow road that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). Will you bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Have a great week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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