PRODUCTIVE FOR GOD OR PRODUCTIVE FOR SATAN FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT Part Two
Goodness – Websters defines goodness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. The Biblical commentators make note that the Greek words for kindness and goodness are often interchangeable. It seems odd that Paul would use two words that have exactly the same meaning. Barclay points out that the Greek word for goodness has the connotation of “might and could rebuke and discipline with kindness”. The Greek word just previously used for kindness can only help others and does not rebuke or discipline others. Barclay believes we often need discipline with the type of goodness that can be kind and strong at the same time.
The MSG uses “sense of compassion in the Heart”. Other commentators write that the word “goodness” senses compassion as we rebuke others. Paul was writing this letter because of the way the Jews were treating with the Gentiles and encouraging the Jews to show compassion. So as we have an occasion to rebuke others, our attitude needs to be one with compassion not harshness.
Faithfulness – The MSG translation uses the words “loyal commitment” and Phillips translation uses “fidelity” which are closely related but “loyal commitment” for me is stronger. Barclay writes that the Greek word means “trustworthiness”.
I put a request on the internet asking for commentator’s thoughts on the faithfulness used in this verse. One commentator wrote in his thinking: “Faithfulness requires us to submit our ways to God. It comes from a place of realizing that we need a Savior and that He is in control of our lives.” Is Paul writing about our faithfulness to God? Other writers believe the faithfulness used is our faithfulness to one another.
As Paul writes to the Galatians, his apostleship is under attack from some of the Jews and they also are not accepting the Gentiles. So it seems highly likely that the verses 22-25 are written more for our relationship with one another. We are to have a loyal commitment, faithfulness to one another and a true fidelity to each other. This includes those you do not like. We should have faithfulness especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. How, by living a Christian life and being ready to help them in their life.
Gentleness - The Phillips translation uses the word “tolerance”. Barclay writes the Greek word used here is the most untranslatable of words. He believes it has three meanings: submissive to the will of God; being teachable, not too proud to learn and most often has the meaning of being considerate. I believe Paul’s use of the word is for consideration of others.
Other commentators and a Biblical dictionary point to attitude, compassion, concern, humility, meekness and kindness as acts of gentleness. One description is that gentleness is being a little kinder than we have to be.
It seems to me that in today’s world we have lost gentleness for others. The political parties blame one another for our countries’ problems and do so hatefully. Racial tension continues in our society. What a great time for Christians to be very strong in our beliefs but show gentleness.
I want to chase a rabbit for a thought about gentleness. For the most part, I feel like God has been gentle with me during my life. Max Lucado asks a question in A Gentle Thunder: “How far do you want God to go in getting your attention? If God has to choose between your eternal safety and your earthly comfort, which do you hope he chooses? Don’t answer too quickly. Give it some thought.” Interesting.
Self-control – The MSG version uses the phrase, “direct energies wisely”. Barclay writes that the Greek word has a meaning of “self-mastery”. Most of the commentators believe the self-control Paul writes about is related to sex. Paul writes about “sinful nature with its passions and desires”. These passions and desires extend to other things like food, alcohol, gambling, even anger and much more.
Given the context of the events in Galatia, I believe the Jews’ anger towards the Gentiles could be important here. The Jews were trying to force the Gentiles to adhere to the law of circumcision. Some Jews probably became angry when the Gentiles weren’t going along. Paul even mentions “fits of rage” as one of acts of the sinful nature.
Allen Jackson writes in his book, Standing Firm: “Throughout life we will encounter those who will push or pull us toward or away from the Lord. But the processing of maturing as Jesus-followers means that we must exert the self-discipline necessary to own our choices and outcomes. We ask the Holy Spirit to give us self-control, which we practice in our daily lives.”
Thoughts on Galatians 5:22-25: Why did Paul write to the Galatians? As mentioned before the Jews were trying to force the Gentile Christians to hold on to the old law, especially circumcision. I believe at times we are guilty of trying to make people hold to man’s customs creating divisions between Christians. Paul is asking the people to step back and think about the law versus the fruits. The present-day church needs to take the same steps. Is what I’m holding on to have a Biblical basis or it is just a custom I’m holding on to?
Why did Paul select the word “fruits” to express himself? Fruits are enjoyable and good for you. According to Strong's Greek Lexicon, the Greek word listed in the verse has a meaning of 'joy', 'gladness', or 'a source of joy'. My life will be full of joy and gladness and hopefully a source of joy to others if I have and use the fruits.
We each have standards by which we judge other peoples’ behavior. For discussion sake, let’s use the fruits of the Spirit as those standards:
- Do you judge your own behavior by the same standards? Choose from the following answers: 1.) I hope so; 2.) I try to; 3.) Not always; 4.) Yes, except when…. 5.) Always.
Most of us if we’re completely honest will choose 1-4. If you chose #5, you are not being completely honest. If #4 was included in your answer, do you allow others their exceptions? Please point out Paul’s list of acceptable exceptions to the fruits of the Spirit! There ain’t none.
Is Paul’s list of fruits all inclusive? I don’t think it is. He’s trying to put out a fire in Antioch, so he used these characteristics for the Christians to think on. He lets them know that these don’t have a matter of law. If you could add one “fruit” to the list, what would it be and why? Forgiveness! People seem to struggle with displaying forgiveness.
Keep in your heart that commentators say these fruits are not our nature! We must invite the Holy Spirit to bring the fruits into our life then make a choice to use them for our own benefit and the benefit of others!
The following is a description of on a web page for Max Lucado: “Does God still free hearts, minds and bodies from the ravages of sin and poverty? The answer is yes! He does it through you. In Outlive Your Life, Lucado challenges you to make a difference that will last beyond your time on earth.”
The following is from Max Lucado’s book, When God Whispers Your Name: These are his thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit:
“IT’S QUIET. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments, the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love . . .
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy . . .
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical . . . the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace . . .
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience . . .
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness . . .
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness . . .
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness . . .
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness . . .
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control . . .
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.”
When God Whispers Your Name Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1994) Max Lucado Used with permission
Standing Firm by Allen Jackson Copyright 2018 Intend Publishing Used with permission
A Gentle Thunder by Max Lucado – 1995 - Published by Word Publishing – Used with permission
Yes, I use a lot of Max Lucado’s writings because he is my favorite writer and he’s one of only two that have granted me permission to use from their collection of writings. Occasionally, I’ll receive permission on a selected article by others.
I’ve tried twice to get permission from F LaGard Smith via his email system with no answer. He spends a certain amount of the year in Murfreesboro then the remainder in England. He also is a good writer so hopefully I’ll receive his permission.
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