But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another (NASB).
In the book, Healing the Masculine Soul, Gordon Dalbey says that when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, He uses a Greek word Paraclete, that Was an ancient warrior’s term. Greek soldiers went into battle in “pairs,” says Dalbey, “so when the enemy attacked, they could draw together back to back, covering each other’s blindside. One’s battle partner was the Paraclete.”
Our Lord does not send us to fight the good fight alone. The Holy Spirit is our battle partner who covers our blind side and fights for our well-being. And because the Holy Spirit is God resident in you and me, we can bear His fruit if only we yield to Him. As we continue from where we left last week, this week we are dealing with Demonstration of the Spirit-Controlled Life Part II.
II. OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS V. 22B
How many of you are completely or a hundred percent satisfied with your Christian life? There is always room in the Christian life for improvement. The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the Spirit-filled life. The second cluster of the fruit of the Spirit, which is patience, kindness, goodness has to do with our relationship with others.
Patience is the transcendent radiance of a loving and tender heart which in its dealings with those around it, looks kindly and graciously upon them. Patience graciously, compassionately, and with understanding judges the faults of others without unjust criticism. Patience is part of true Christlikeness, something we so often admire of others without demanding it of ourselves. Patience is one of the outstanding attributes of God, one of which you and I have often been the beneficiaries. Patience is not concerned so much with what we do as with what we can refrain from doing. Chrysostom said that a patient man is one who has the resources and opportunity to avenge himself, chooses to refrain from the exercise of these. The strength of our love can be measured by the length of our patience. Patience in our lives springs from God’s power based upon our willingness to learn it.
A young woman’s car stalled at a stoplight. She tried to get it started, but nothing would happen. The light turned green, and there she sat angry and embarrassed, holding up traffic. The car behind could have gone around, but instead, the driver added to her anger by laying on his horn. After another desperate attempt to get the car started, she got out and walked back to the honker. The man rolled down his window in surprise. “Tell you what,” she said, “You go start my car, and I’ll sit back and honk the horn for you.”
Whenever we are selfish, or when anger or ill-will begins to build, or when impatience or frustration overtakes us, we must recognize that we are the source of our problems, not God. We must refuse, renounce, and repudiate the situation immediately because it comes from the old sinful nature, the flesh.
Patience has a close affinity to testings or trials in the Bible. You may be patient in ordinary life, but how do you respond when trials come? It is then that you need a full dose of patience. That is why James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). It is the regular exercise of patience and longsuffering in the small day-to-day frustrations and irritations which prepares us to endure when great battles come. Inner erosion of the heart leaves you and me vulnerable to the cunning and often disguised attacks of Satan. But the heart that has learned to call immediately into the Holy Spirit at the first sign of temptation has no reason to fear any such erosion. We may go through affliction or discipline, yet the Psalmist said, “Weeping may last for the night but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). No Spirit-controlled or Spirit-filled Christian will fail to demonstrate longsuffering and patience if he/she has faithfully endured "the fellowship of His suffering.”
In order for the fruit to appear in our lives, God allows us to face chastening, discipline, affliction, and persecution. We must, however, guard against one thing when we speak of longsuffering. Longsuffering is not a kind of neurotic self-flagellation because you don’t want to face the truth. Jesus vigorously “drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons” (Matt. 21:12). Jesus also furiously castigated the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 21:13ff). Patience does not mean that we have to close our eyes and ears to sin. It is the Spirit-filled Christian who knows when to have “righteous indignation,” and when to be patient. It is the Spirit-filled Christian who knows when patience becomes an excuse for inaction or a crutch to hide a defect of character.
The fruit of the Spirit is kindness. When kindness occurs with patience, it has to do with the active expression of kindness toward others. There is no abrasiveness in love, for “love is kind.” Kindness is a reflection of God’s attitude toward us (Eph. 2:8). If longsuffering or patience means not to “chew someone’s head off” (5:15), “kindness” means to find ways actively to show mercy to them, to take a towel and wash their feet. A kind person is sensitive to the feelings of others and is always looking for the opportunity to perform a kindly act, even for the unlovely and undeserving. Kindness mellows a word or action that might otherwise seem harsh our austere.
Someone has said that kindness is the impress of God upon His creatures. Sadly, kindness is becoming an extinct virtue in a selfish and individualistic society. What were once common courtesies are becoming most uncommon. We live in an angry world. We live in a world that is in a hurry. Incidents of road rage, those horrible crimes where someone gets angry in traffic and shoots another driver are increasing all over the United States. A couple of weeks ago, a driver shot and killed another driver in traffic simply because he didn’t like the music he was playing in his car. It is documented in the Philadelphia Daily News that aggressive drivers kill two to four times more people than do drunk drivers. It is estimated that between January 1, 1990, and September 1, 1996, a total of 12,828 people were injured or killed as a result of aggressive driving, including 94 children under the age of 15. We live in an era and a society that is increasingly forgetting what it means to be kind, and people get run over by others in a hurry to meet their own goals. Therefore, kindness is a rare commodity today. When something becomes rare or scarce it also becomes increasingly valued and treasured.
A person of Spirit-filled kindness is a great treasure. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another.” “Be kind in your home. Be kind at your workplace. It is easy to show kindness to others and be cruel to those who are close to us, our spouses and our children." That is hypocrisy.
In Conspiracy of Kindness, Steve Sjogren (show-gren) tells the story of Joe Delaney and his eight year-year old son, Jared, who were playing catch in their backyard. Jared asked, “Dad, is there a God?” Joes replied that he went to church only a few times when he was a kid; he really had no idea. Jared ran into the house. “I’ll be right back!” he yelled. Moments later he returned with a helium balloon from the circus, a pen, and an index card. I am going to send God an airmail message, Jared explained. “Dear God,” wrote Jared, “If you are real and you are there, send people who know you to Dad and me.” God, I hope you are watching, Joe thought as they watched the balloon and message sail away. Two days later, Joe and Jared pulled into a car wash sponsored by Sjogren’s church. When Joe asked, “How much?” Sjogren answered It’s free. No strings attached. We just want to show God’s love in a practical way.” “Are you guys Christians, the kind of Christians, who believe in God?” Joe asked Sjogren said, “Yes, we are that kind of Christians.” From that encounter, Steve led Joe to faith in Christ. Many people may be only one act of kindness from meeting one true Christian. Are you developing a kinder disposition.?
The fruit of the Spirit is goodness. Goodness is closely allied with kindness. There is no depravity in love. Goodness tends to be a neglected virtue in contemporary society. Goodness is not news. It is often snubbed and sneered at. If you want to insult a person call him a goody—goody. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit or walking in the Spirit, our relationship with one another is described as a relationship that is good.
Two women who were rivals in their social circles met at a party. “My dear,” said the one, “are those real pearls?” “They are,” replied the other. “Of course,” said the first, smiling, “the only way I could really tell would be to bite one of them. “Yes,” agreed said the woman wearing the jewel, but for that, you would need real teeth!” It seems as if there was a bit of goodness lacking in that relationship. Don’t you agree?
The word goodness is derived from a Greek word referring to that quality found in the person who is ruled by and aimed at what is good, that which represents the highest moral and ethical values. The word “good” in the language of Scripture literally means to be like God, because He alone is the one who is perfectly good. It is one thing, however, to have a high ethical standard but quite another for the Holy Spirit to produce the goodness that has its depths in the Godhead. The meaning here is more than just “doing good.” Goodness goes far deeper. Goodness is love in action. It carries with it not only the idea of imputed righteousness but also righteousness demonstrated in everyday living by the Holy Spirit. It is doing good out of a good heart, to please God, without expecting medals and rewards. Christ wants you and I who are Christians to have this kind of goodness to be our way of life.
Thoreau wrote, “If a person does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however, measured or far away.” As Christians, we have no alternative but to march to the drumbeat of the Holy Spirit., following the measured step of goodness which pleases God. Amen!
Have you ever heard someone say, he is a good man, she is a good woman? That is what people should say about you and me when we are walking in the Spirit. That doesn’t mean we are perfect. That doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes. But the truth is that men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit are simply good people. The fruit of their goodness is obvious wherever they go. Don’t you like to be around good people? People with long tempers? People, who are courteous and considerate? Praise God for people like that. They bring glory to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who called Himself “The Good Shepherd.”
The word for “goodness” is found four times in the NT. Do you recall when “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38), the outcome was said to be not ecstatic experience, spectacular miracles or flamboyant sermons, but simply “going about doing good.” Goodness is an active benevolence.
“Your goodness is as a morning cloud, as the early dew it goes away” (Hosea 6:4). True goodness is a “fruit of the Spirit” and our efforts to achieve it in our own strength can never succeed. Can you say that you are a better person today than you were before you came to Christ? Do you notice such a difference in your life? You must be careful that any goodness the world may see in you is the genuine fruit of the Holy Spirit, not a counterfeit substitute. Lest you unwittingly lead someone astray.
You and I must be aware that Satan can take any human effort and twist it to serve his own purposes. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the goodness that can stand up under any test and scrutiny. Amen. Goodness is never alone. It is always accompanied by patience and kindness. These three go together and they are manifested in the person whose life is controlled by the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Holy Spirit, these traits of character can become part of our lives that we might remind others of Him. Hopefully, next week we will wrap up this series.
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