Day Five: Love

by Arch Hoercher              

In review, the foundation of the Fruit of the Spirit is love.  Without God’s love in us, all the other graces of the fruit would not manifest themselves.  All Christians have the privilege to bask in the sunshine of God’s love and by doing so should feel Christ’s joy and peace filling us up to overflowing. As we grow in Christ’s love the fruit of the Spirit grows with that love.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:23 that, “Against such things there is no law”.  In other words, if your life operates in the fullness of the fruit of the Spirit, the law has no power over you because you are living in the fullness of grace.  In verse 24, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we belong to Christ our shortcomings and sin (passions and desires) were crucified to the cross as Christ was crucified to the cross.  

The last verse of this study, Paul wrote that: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  We live by the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit indwells all Christians through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Spirit lives within each one of us, but Paul said that we should keep in step with the Spirit.  It is like a marching band keeping in step with each other.  Keeping in step with each other shows unity and support.  But if we can keep in step, we can also be out of step.  We must keep in step with the Spirit, the Spirit will not keep in step with us.  For all the manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit to occur in our lives, we must keep in step with the Spirit.  As we grow in Christ Jesus, keeping “in step” will become easier and we will be living out the fruit of the Spirit.                                                                                     

 

Day Four: Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self-Control

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.

Day Three: Long-Suffering, Kindess & Goodness

by Arch Hoercher              

               The second group of three is forbearance (long-suffering), kindness and goodness.  These three relate to our behavior towards men.   The first is forbearance, some translations use the word “long-suffering” and others “patience”, all three words are correct and all three probably give a better translation of what is actually meant.  Forbearance is defined by Webster as “the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry – a refraining from the enforcement of something (like a debt or right or obligation).  In the Bible it is often connected to God as a “holding back” and the “passing over of sin”.  It is a Christian grace in likeness to God.  Long-suffering is defined by Webster as: “suffering for a long time without complaining – very patient during difficult times – patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.”  The Bible describes long-suffering as having self-restraint when one is stirred to anger.  A long-suffering person does not have a “short-fuse” and immediately retaliates or punishes, but is to have a “long-fuse” and patiently endure offenses and delay retribution.  God is “long-suffering” and displays “forbearance” when dealing with man’s sinfulness and disobedience.  God has a very long fuse.  We are to act towards other men in the same way God has acted towards us, with patience and mercy.  It takes a wise and good man to overcome evil with good, and to love them that hate.   A person who is living under the influence of the Holy Spirit should never be involved in a fight or quarrel with another person.  The Christian should respond with forbearance and long-suffering (the qualities of mercy).   The second “grace” in this list of three behaviors toward men is kindness.  Webster defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”  Kindness is an attribute of God but is not always found in man. “God is kind to all He has made” (Psalm 145:9).  “His kindness is intended to lead to repentance, not to rejection of Him” (Romans 2:4).  “God’s kindness is manifest in the full salvation that comes through Christ” (1 Peter 2:3).  “Our salvation derives from the kindness of God” (Ephesians 2:7-8).  “It is through continuing in his kindness that we are saved” (Romans 11:22).  Kindness is an attribute of God and because of that it should be displayed in the life of the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Christian should be displaying kindness to all we meet and have interactions with.  We should be friendly, considerate of others, generous in help and charity, and compassionate to others needs and troubles.  It is a great witness to others when we act in kindness.  The third “grace” in this list of three behaviors toward men is goodness.  Webster defines goodness as “a simple word for the general quality recognized in character or conduct – the quality of being good.”  Goodness in the Bible is defined as “the deliberate preference of right over wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.”  It is an inward disposition of goodness.  It should be our goal to be “good” in our conduct at all times.  Never bragging about how good we are or patting ourselves on the back before other men to let them know how good we are.  We should not behave as the Pharisees did.  Goodness and kindness should be part of our very nature through the power of the Holy Spirit as it is God’s nature.

Day Two: Love, Joy & Peace

by Arch Hoerche

The first group of three; love, joy and peace lie in the Christian’s relationship with God.  These are not duties or virtues, they are simply the results of a singular relationship with God which are guaranteed and manifested through the Holy Spirit.  First comes “love”.  Love is actually the single fruit that the other graces flow from.  It is the very nature of God and given by the very heart of the Holy Spirit.  It is the sap that rises from the one root into the one vine which feeds the branches.  It is what gives the Christian the ability to love one another and love our enemies.  The two remaining graces are obviously consequences of the first.  Joy is not so much an act as it is an emotion which should permeate the Christian life.  Jesus promised that He would give us His joy to be a very part of us and that our joy should be full.  That joy, a permanent joy, fills every nook and cranny of our heart.  It comes from abiding in Jesus Christ and with the degree that we love God.  It is a joy that is not connected to our station in life or what is going on in our lives.  It is a permanent and unfailing smile upon or faces.  The joys of the world are fleeting and most often disappointing.  If we believe that great joy will come from any relationship with someone or something of this earth, we will be greatly disappointed.  Permanent and unfailing joy comes only from God.  The third “grace” in the list is peace.  This peace is built upon love and joy.  If our hearts are continually turning to God and in close communion with Him and open to the Holy Spirits work in our lives, peace is the natural outcome of this communion.  It is a tranquility that fills your very soul and is not dependent upon whatever is happening in our earthly lives.  It is not the peace of the world.  That peace could end at any moment and is dependent upon the whims of man.  This is a peace that is at the very core of a relationship with God.  It is permanent and indestructible.  God did not promise you that your life would have no trouble, but He did offer peace beyond understanding.  And that peace comes in direct measure to how much we live in and partake of the love of God.

Day One: Fruit of the Spirit

by Arch Hoercher

What exactly is the “Fruit of the Spirit”?  Galatians 5: 22-24 (NIV): But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  The first thing to notice is that the Apostle Paul wrote fruit and not fruits.  Fruit is singular.  All nine of these individual members are all connected and spring up from the one root. 

Lets first look at the “one” root.  In John 15:5-6 Jesus is speaking: “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”   Jesus Christ is the one vine which is in the one root.  John 15:1 reads: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”  Here Jesus says that He is the true vine.  Anytime Jesus uses the word “true”, it means that there is a “false” imitation.  In other words, if there is a true vine there is also a false vine out in the world.  It is a word of caution to let you know that all vines are not true and you must select the “true” vine.  This verse also states that the Father is the gardener.  The gardener (God, the Father) is the caretaker of the garden and in this case the vine.  The gardener is responsible for cutting off the branches that do not bear fruit and pruning those which need to bear more fruit.  Just so that you know, pruning can be painful, if you are one of the branches that is being pruned.

The “Fruit of the Spirit” is one fruit made up of multiple graces.  It is a result of the Holy Spirit residing in you, but you must remain in the vine (Jesus Christ) to be able to produce the fruit.  The Apostle Paul designates the results of the Holy Spirit residing in you as fruit – this is in strong contrast to the works of the flesh which are not worthy of being called fruit.  It is not by accident that there are 9 aspects (or graces) of the one fruit.  I like the word graces because they are given to the Christian free of charge.  These 9 graces are divided into three groups of three.  The number three in the Bible denotes that there is completeness.  For example when we speak of God as being holy, we say “holy, holy, holy” three times to denote that God’s holiness is complete.  There are three groups of three graces to denote that these graces are complete in the makeup of one fruit from the one vine and the one root.  The first group of three describes the life of the Spirit in you; the second group of three is the same life in its manifestations to men; and the third group is that life in relation to the difficulties of the world and ourselves.