|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 28
Meditation Title: Fruit of the Spirit
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I once noted that using spiritual gifts and, I was particularly considering the gift of prophecy, that the outworking of that or any other gift used in a secure environment, WILL be the fruit of the Spirit. When the prophetic word is released in a secure environment, (or any other spiritual gifts are used) God's LOVE is made more real, it brings JOY at the sense of being loved, it brings PEACE with a sense of purpose in security, it enables us to walk with PATIENCE in understanding, it releases KINDNESS towards others, it brings GOODNESS with that same understanding, it strengthens FAITHFULNESS in confidence, it allows GENTLENESS to prevail as we understand the Lord's acceptance, and it brings SELF CONTROL in the awareness of God's purpose for us. i.e. wherever God moves, these fruit will be evidenced in some measure.
Now you may need to read that several times to take in the significance of the flow of ‘fruit'. Let's expand on it and by that means, understand more fully the various fruit in our verses today. When God speaks to us or acts on our behalf, we appreciate the wonder of His love more fully and, I hope, become more loving ourselves. Love, I find, melts my heart and hence the other fruits follow, but it not only melts my heart but it also makes me more loving towards other people. His love is infectious! But I find that love doesn't stand alone; it always has ‘close cousins'. (I used the concept of ‘close cousins' because they are all related to each other, some more closely than others).This sense of being loved by God brings a joy with it, a sense of ‘happy uplift that bubbles'. Sorry if that seems a crude, simplistic definition but I think that basically is what joy is.
But then as God expresses His will, I find it comes with a sense of ‘still strength' which is the peace that surrounds God. God is utterly at peace at all times because He is totally in control and has no need to worry. When He communicates, some of that comes through. It is like it is his ‘body language', but more than that, it comes with a reminder that He is there, He knows, He loves, He is there for us, and He is there to do stuff for us, and somehow, that brings a beautiful sense of peace to our lives. Now if we know He is in control, as we learn to trust Him, so we find we can be patient with circumstances. If He's not in a rush to change things, there is little point in me being fretful. Thus genuine peace always comes with its friend, patience.
However God speaks, He is always kindly, and kindness describes His every expression. My dictionary defines ‘kind' as ‘ of gentle or benevolent, friendly nature,' and even when the Lord has to correct us, He is kind; He is still there for us and He reaches out with gentle good will, and therefore everything He expresses towards us His children comes as ‘kindness'. Again, being treated by Him like this, I find transforms me and I find that that is how I feel and act towards others, warmly, gently and in a friendly manner. It comes automatically in my responses to Him, because I am also expressing Him.
Kindness also has a special cousin, goodness, and the two tend to be found together. Goodness is the virtue of being pleasingly excellent (morally, socially and in every other way), pleasing to be with, and it is easy to see how it is related to that gentle or benevolent friendly nature expressed we saw ‘kindness' was. Again, in the same way, whenever God expresses Himself in my direction, I am the recipient of goodness which makes me want to be an expression of goodness – it is Him in and through me. But they also have another close cousin. One thing these fruits do, is create within us a sense of steadiness or security in who we are in God's love and that steadiness is seen as faithfulness, which is simply the ability to remain true to Him and to who we are. Because we are blessed by His kindness and His goodness, we find a desire to stick close to Him and be like Him, i.e. faithful.
As you'll have seen already, gentleness comes with its cousin, kindness; the two are almost inseparable. Sadly, I think gentleness is often the most rare of the fruit seen in Christians. The dictionary is very interesting if you look up ‘gentle'. It starts out ‘well born, having the right to bear arms' which is an historical thing, about birth and how, once upon a time, the word ‘gentleman' meant someone of honourable birth, of a good family, etc. Gentleness should be an expression of ours because of who our Father is. We take on His characteristics and we can also afford to be gentle with others because we know who we are, we know that we come from the family of the Lord of Lords do not have to be defensive and we are for others just as our Father in heaven is.
There is a ‘natural' outworking of these things in our lives but, I believe, because we have been given free will and God delights in involving us, we have the final one of these ‘fruit, self-control, the ability to participate in our lives, ordering them and changing them. Self control comes with a combination of awareness of who we are and what we are. The former reminds me that I am a child of God and the latter reminds me that I have His power flowing within me. The two together enable me, with His grace, to participate in the change process that is going on in me. I'm sure that's what Paul had in mind when he wrote, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12,13). YOU work it out as God works it out – in you. Ponder on these things and see the wonder of the working of God in you as it is seen in these things referred to as ‘the fruit of the Spirit.' Be blessed!