by Arch Hoercher
The third group of three “graces” appear to point to the world where the Christian lives. The difficulties, oppositions, troubles, and trials should be met with faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control (temperance). The first is faithfulness. Biblically it means to be reliable, steadfast, unwavering, and trustworthy as it relates to a Christian’s relationship to Jesus Christ and His teachings. It is how we should live in all are dealings with man (at work or at play) being faithful to Jesus Christ. If we are truly faithful to Jesus Christ, it will spill over in our conduct towards man. If we are reliable and trustworthy towards God, we will be reliable and trustworthy towards man. But first our faithfulness must be directed towards God. Faithfulness is a battle ground, it is not easy. The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” We sometimes lose the battle because the divine nature does not completely fill our minds. How then do we accomplish faithfulness – the Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” We must “hold fast” to the fact that God is faithful. It is again part of His very nature. We must keep our minds on the faithfulness of God and by doing so we will become faithful through the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in us. The second in this trio is gentleness (meekness in some translations). The Greek word used in this passage and translated to meekness or gentleness refers to the trained animal such as an elephant, or ox, or horse. It is strength under trained control. It does not mean “Casper milk toast”. It has nothing to do with weakness, but actually relates to strength under control. In our relationship with God meekness or gentleness would relate to yielded, teachable, or responsive. In our relationships with men, it would relate to humility, gentleness, and respect. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). That is a huge reward for the meek. But again it has nothing to do with weakness; in fact, it requires strength. Strength is needed to be submissive to God’s will and direction in our lives. Look at the example of Jesus. He could of at any time called upon divine power, but He was approachable, sympathetic, kind and loving. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am GENTLE (meek) and humble in heart.” The last in the last group of three graces is self-control. Some translations use temperance. Simply stated self-control is the control of one’s self. A Christian did not become a Christian on his own and we are unable to grow in Christ on our own. It requires God working in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. If God is working in us we should have the ability to control our thoughts, words, and actions. But our fallen nature is under the influence of sin. The Christian is in a constant battle between the two. As we grow in Christ, we gain the strength to turn away from sin due to self-control. We grow stronger in Christ and the grace of self-control when we fellowship with other believers and study the Word of God. Church should be a place to help us grow in the grace of self-control. We should always remember that every good thing we do is the fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives.