In a previous article (Glad Tidings, July/August 2022), we were discussing fruit in our lives as delineated in Galatians 6:22-23. The metaphor of fruit as being good attributes we have when we allow the spirit of God to work within us shows us the need for connection to Yahweh through Jesus Christ. The sap coming from the roots of the plant up through the plant to produce the fruit is the only way fruit can grow. We allow Yahweh to reign in our hearts and follow the holy spirit which is like the nourishment for godly living. The fruit of the spirit is a standard for following Christ.
Galatians 6:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We will continue from Part 1 with the fruit named patience. The Greek word makrothumia concerns how a believer is to be patient or longsuffering in relationship to persecution, difficulties, troubles with relationships and environmental pressures. We are to be patient in all circumstances, such as our service for the Lord and waiting for the return of Christ. Galatians 6:9 reminds us to “not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Patience is an antidote for weariness or becoming so tired of the “fight” that we quit or falter. Patience helps us when we are worn out and want to default to old man nature habits that we thought would bring relief but never did.
Luke 8:15 teaches us that “in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” A believer’s heart that is steeped in the Word of Yahweh, will guide a godly life because of patience to wait for Yahweh’s deliverance now and the soon coming of Jesus Christ.
Gentleness is the fifth fruit listed in Galatians 5. The Greek word chrestotes means kindness or usefulness. This word is used 10 times in the New Testament and refers to Yahweh six times (Eph 2:7; Titus 3:4, goodness Romans 2:4, 2x; 11:22 2x). Kindness begins with Yahweh.
Ephesians 2:7. So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
We are tempted each day to be snarky, irritated, and nasty in response to the stressors of the world and relationships. What we are called to be is gentle and kind despite what goes on around us. Ephesians 4:2 commands us to be kind to each other by showing tenderheartedness and forgiving one another.
We can encourage one another with kindness. When someone does something mean or annoys us, we respond with gentleness—teaching others with our actions that we love as Yahweh loves. A common proverb is that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1)”. Do we leave others with unkind words and agitation? It would be awesome to have people think of us and say, “What a kind and gentle believer!” Our body and speech show the gentleness that is within. Children gravitate to those they sense are gentle and kind.
Another fruit in the list is the Greek word “goodness”. It is translated from the Greek word agathosune as “an uprightness of heart and life” (Thayer & Strong, 1995). Our standard of goodness comes from our good Yahweh. His goodness exemplifies the character of generosity and helping others. As a young girl when I would go out to play, my mother would usually admonish me to be “good”. She wanted me to represent the family well. As believers, we represent Yahweh when we are upright and serving others.
Yahweh gives to us overwhelming riches because of His goodness. We have so much given to us we can certainly share with others. We are blessed with homes, cars, money, and abilities. Anyone can help another, but Yahweh’s goodness is different than secular good deeds.
Luke 6:33-35. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
We are not to look for some praise, honor, or a gift for doing good deeds. Christians show their ability to be above the world by loving our enemies, by forgiving people who are mean and hateful and those who do evil. We do not turn around and have revenge or meanness. We offer acts of goodness instead. It absolutely makes those who are not Christian shake their heads in disbelief. When a Christian brother or sister has a fault and has hurt us, we are to show forgiveness. Good deeds only can come from the power of the holy spirit. No human on his or her own could possibly begin to appropriate this kind goodness.
A hallmark verse for how we are to live in Yahweh’s goodness is found in 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (KJV). Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Yahweh gives abundance for us to enjoy—our family, health, ability to know Yahweh and Jesus Christ and to preach the Gospel—and we have all the air, water, sun, and shade we need. We are to emulate Yahweh and do good works by speaking the Gospel with others and giving to the needy with a good heart. Goodness given by a man or woman of Yahweh who loves Jesus Christ is a healing balm to a hurting world.
Faithfulness (Greek word pistis) is a well-known fruit of the spirit. Faithfulness is manifested by living steadfastly and being unmovable in following Jesus Christ. Faithfulness attests to our loyalty to and trust in Yahweh and His Son. We are faithful not only to Yahweh but also to each other. When one decides to become a faithful Christ follower, it will change that person from death to eternal life. Matthew 24:13 states “…he that shall endure [have faith] unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Meekness (Greek word praotes) is a quality of godly living that we all enjoy being around. We clearly avoid people who are arrogant, conceited, and domineering. The Apostle Paul exhorted Titus “to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men (Titus 3:2 KJV).” Paul also wrote to Timothy that he should follow meekness (1 Timothy 6:11).
Galatians 6:1. Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [praotes]; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.
A wonderful healing gift we can give to others is to encourage godly behavior with meekness on our part. The other person may or may not be meek to hear, but we are not to “lord it over” someone else because we feel superior to their deeds. This will lead us to sin and become tempted to sin ourselves – especially in not being meek.
Self-control is many times translated temperance (egkrateia), which is to have self-restraint. This word is only used 4 times in the New Testament (in Acts 24:25, Galatians 5:23, and twice in 2 Peter 1:6), and other variants are used 3 times; therefore, it is not a word that is often used. This fruit of the spirit is named last but is vital for building a foundation for the rest of our spiritual attributes. If we do not have the self-discipline to say “No!” to ourselves, we will be incapable of applying the fruit of the spirit. We will be entangled in our own sin patterns and unable to get ourselves to do the right thing because we love Yahweh more than our own pleasures. Jesus Christ gives us the ability to truly overcome.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. So they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
We began with the metaphor of fruit, such as grapes, being a clump on the vine and thinking of the fruit of the spirit as each grape to be selected as wanted. I would like now to suggest we are more like a single fruit, say an orange. An orange is a complete fruit within itself being unique in its color, fragrance, taste, and nutrition. One can walk into a kitchen where an orange is being peeled and immediately know that there is an orange in the house. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us to have the same effect on others because we are replicating our Yahweh?
We are unique in our abilities, but we all have the same ability to give out love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. The individual attributes complement and support each other. It isn’t selecting one grape at a time (like love, joy or peace), it is utilizing all of them in unison.
The orange is complete, and we enjoy the experience of tasting the sweetness and smelling the awesome fragrance while reaping benefits of the nutrition all at one time. The fruit of the spirit is a gift to us from Yahweh to set us apart from unbelievers so that we are examples of Yahweh’s character. Our fruit is nourished by Yahweh through Jesus Christ. Instead of ‘essence of grape or orange’, we are the essence of Yahweh.