Looking Within Archives 2009
Home2. Be Gentle3. Replace Anxiety With Prayer4. Control Thoughts5. Care for Others6. Be Content7. Know God Supplies All of Our NeedsArchives

eosnavg13.gif

All articles written by Joyce Jamerson

  • Fruit of the Spirit - Introduction
  • Fruit of theSpirit - Love
  • Fruit of theSpirit - Joy
  • Fruit of theSpirit - Peace
  • Fruit of theSpirit - Patience
  • Fruit of theSpirit - Kindness
  • Fruit of theSpirit - Goodness
  • Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness
  • Fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness
  • Fruit of the Spirit - Self-Control
  • Using the Fruit of the Spirit to Present Our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice
  • Big Brothers and Bicycles

eoslapis_bar2.gif

 

Fruit of the Spirit – Introduction

Joyce Jamerson 

How many times have you experienced the battle for your mind?  Your good self says to behave in a certain way, but your evil self is pulling your strings, trying to get some co-operation to lead you away from good. 

How did Paul put it?  “For I delight in the law of God, according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God – though Christ our Lord!  So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin,” Romans 7:22-25. 

Are we in our own private war?  Good self wants to be available for others, study more, teach more, be a help in whatever way is needed at the time.  Bad self is the one that wants to fiddle away time on the internet or watch television or something equally nonsensical, when other things need attention - or it may say “I can’t” when really I could, to the point of sometimes involving self in mundane things so we’ll have an excuse to not be available for better things.  I’m too busy is a flimsy excuse for failing to develop our fruit.  Jesus didn’t look kindly on that non-productive tree that had no fruit, Matthew 7:18,19. 

Paul, writing to brethren in Galatia, pointed out that if they would walk in the Spirit, they would not fulfill their lust of the flesh; that flesh & Spirit are contrary to each other, Galatians 5:16,17.  Their liberty is in Christ Jesus. They were saved by Him, loved by Him, guided by His Spirit; no longer  justified by the law that had now served its purpose, Galatians 5: 16-18. 

If they are led by this Spirit of Christ, there is no need for the law. And then, Paul’s words come a little closer home.  His list of evil things are not just temptations of long ago – these are things that battle for a place in our lives;  things that should no longer be practiced by anyone who has named Christ as their Savior, Galatians 5:19-21.  If these things are practiced, there is no inheritance in the kingdom of God. 

Then Paul presents another list - the other side – the evidence of being led by the Spirit.  When we develop these things in our lives, we are being led by the Spirit.  Those who belong to Christ have put away the passions and desires mentioned in the previous verses.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:22-23. 

The battle for the mind can be won by setting our minds on things of the Spirit - letting ourselves be led by this Spirit through the Word.  The familiar Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” is an understandable word picture. 

Solar lighting is a modern application to the lamp.  We see it outlining sidewalks and driveways – tiny lights that certainly have power on their own, but shine better as a group.  They are powered by the sun.  Interesting that the same can be said for us – we have little power on our own, but shine a little better in a group – and our light is powered by the Son. 

So, how are our spiritual lights?  Are they shining?  Or are they too dim?  Do we need more energy?  Let’s go down the fruit of the spirit path together and see how well our lights shine.  Do we need more time in the Son? 

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Love

Joyce Jamerson 

We are in the process of developing the good self that wants to please God and do His will, giving attention to the list of things Paul mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.  It should appeal to us as women that Paul is into making lists.  How many times have you made a list for your children, or perhaps for your husband, noting things that need to be done around the house?  We also make our own personal lists for shopping needs and things we don’t want to forget.  Many of us have prayer lists so we won’t neglect the needs of others. 

In previous verses Paul lists the deeds of the flesh and states that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Since we’re developing our good self, we’d do well to check that list carefully!  He follows that list with the list that makes up the fruit of the spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.   

Actually, many of Paul’s lists go hand in hand with our spiritual development.  He wants us to think on these things that are listed in Philippians 4:8.  In Colossians 3:12-16, Christians are to put on or to wear “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other…”  Then we’re told that beyond all of these things, we are to put on love.  In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, there is a list of qualities that come about because of love and an earlier verse states that without love we are nothing. 

Greeks had four words which are translated love.  Eros is not used in the N.T. and indicates sexual love.    Phileo is the love of a close friendship - a tender affection; storge is the love of family relationships and agape is the love that wants the best for others.  The agape love is what Paul first mentions as being a fruit of the spirit.  (Do we carefully avoid the bad as the Pharisees did, but fail to develop the good?  They weren’t bad, but lacked humility, kindness and love; showing prejudice and judging others.)   

Agape love shows us we can love someone without liking them.  We can care about them even though we are not drawn to them or particularly like some of their qualities.  It’s easy to love those who love us in return, but this goes beyond and takes concentrated effort!  Jesus knew giving and receiving would be difficult for us, and gives detailed instructions in Luke 6:27-38.  Put it on your list of scriptures on which to read and reflect.  Practicing the guidelines in this passage will demonstrate how well we are bearing fruit.    

God, in 1 John 4:20, very plainly tells us that if a man says he loves God and hates his brother, he’s lying.  “Love can only be known by the actions it prompts,” W.E. Vine.  We can demonstrate agape love by extending ourselves to those who need attention, either physically or spiritually.  Prayer is an avenue for us in behalf of those who treat us badly, especially when they are not open to other intervention.  “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification,” Romans 15:2. 
 

Extending that to marriage, in Ephesians 5:25-33, husbands are told to agape their wives.  They are to love their wives, doing what is best – being fair minded and reasonable, regardless of tender feelings.  A husband might state that he just doesn’t love her; doesn’t feel anything for her anymore, but the Lord didn’t tell men how to feel - He told men to love their wives as their own bodies. 

Interestingly, in Titus 2:4, a wife’s love for her husband is not agapeo, but phileo.  She is to respect and have a tender affection for him.  We are told how to feel.  Even if we think the romance has died in our marriage, we are still to respect, honor and have tender affection for our husband; to want the best for him.  The principle of each word, of course, applies to both husband and wife.  Behavior that is less needs to be inspected; perhaps our fruit isn’t developing so well after all. 

While visiting recently in someone’s home, I came across an article, taken from a book by Tim Hughes, entitled Holding Nothing Back: Embracing the Mystery of God.  It tells of a father and son team, Dick and Rick Hoyt, completing four years of marathons, going on to compete in their first triathlon – a combination of 26.2 miles of running, 122 miles of cycling and 2.4 miles of swimming.  Eventually, they participated in 64 marathons, 78 half-marathons and 206 triathlons.   A good record?  Yes.  But factor in that Rick Hoyt was injured at birth, leaving him a quadriplegic, even unable to speak.  Especially designed computers allow him to communicate his thoughts by using slight head movements. 

He communicated to his dad, his desire to participate in the first run because it was a benefit for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.   After that race, in which they came in next to last, Rick communicated to his dad that for the first time in his life, he didn’t feel disabled.  Dad then created Team Hoyt so his son could continue to feel alive and accomplished.  When  Dick runs, he pushes his son in a wheelchair, when Dick cycles, Rick is in a special seat, attached to the front of his bike; when Dick swims, Rick is in a heavy stabilized boat, attached to his waist.  Imagine!  What love a father has shown for his son – to what lengths he has gone to show his love. 

Check out this tremendously inspiring story at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDnrLv6z-mM 

Author Tim Hughes then points out how this story is a powerful reminder of our Father’s love and commitment to us - the Father gives everything, holding nothing back.  He delights in us… and cares so deeply about us that He sent His only Son to die for us!  Our only possible response is to hold nothing back in return.  

Holding nothing back means growing the finest, premium fruit with not so much as a spot or a blemish.  So let’s check our root systems. Is holiness taking root? Is our fruit developing?  Or do we have a rotten spot or two?  Do we run our race with endurance as Dick Holt did?  (Hebrews 12:1,2) Do we need a little pruning?  When flower buds are past their prime, they are pruned or dead-headed from the bush, with what results?  Larger, stronger and more beautiful flowers.   Only by being absorbed in and applying Scripture, can we develop our fruit of love.  It gives us the keys to loving those who are not easy to love; to loving those who do not return our efforts.  Could we say God’s written word is fertilizer for fruit bearing? 

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Joy

Joyce Jamerson 

Most of us would probably say we’ve known joy.  Joy, by definition, is happiness, pleasure, delight, cheer, gladness, or celebration.  The thesaurus also lists bliss, ecstasy and elation.  Joy can be superficial or run right down to our toes, enveloping every fiber of our being.  Our marriages and the births of our children are probably high on our list of things that have brought joy.  At the top of the list would surely be our salvation (1 Peter 1: 3-9), closely coupled with the joy of seeing a friend obey the gospel.  John said he had no greater joy than seeing his children (those he had taught) walking in truth, 3 John 4.   

Do you see others that seem to have more joy and wonder how they managed to capture it?  In context of our study, remember, that as fruit grows, it is tiny at first but it is still fruit.  We planted some pear trees a couple of years ago and managed a stunning total of two pears this past summer!  You don’t wake up one morning and have a large crop.  Fruit bearing takes time – and attention.   

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing,” John 15:4, 5. 

Through this study, we’re setting our minds on glorifying God by developing  the fruit of the Spirit.  Paul said if we live by the Spirit, we will see these changes in our lives; we will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  This type of fruit bearing also requires time and attention.   

If we are led by the Spirit, we are focusing on His Word; setting our minds on things above; instead of letting Satan get a foothold in our lives with his many temptations.  We know Satan doesn’t play fair, and arming ourselves with the Word will keep him from taking away our joy.  Billy Sunday said, “If you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”  If we have too little joy, could it be that we spend too little time with the Word and fail to develop in faith?  

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full,” John 15:11. 

David felt the agony of being separated from God and pleaded for joy to return, Psalm 51:10-14.  He wanted deliverance from guilt, so he could joyfully sing once more.  David felt this agony because he had sinned and separated himself from God.   

We can lose daily joy just because things didn’t go right for us on a certain day; the kids were fighting, the washing machine broke down, husband was passed by for a deserved promotion and a good friend didn’t turn out to be so good – all things that can ruin the day and rob us of joy. 

Losing spiritual joy on the other hand, is another matter.  We may have to make a concentrated effort to develop this type of joy.  David recognized that he had moved away from God and he needed to re-establish himself in order to have his joy restored.  Do you ever wonder how Paul stayed so positive?  How he held up under trying circumstances?  Paul spoke of joy that came simply by being with other Christians.  He spoke of sharing that joy with others, and wanting them to share their joy with him, Philippians 2:17, 18.  Note how joy is used in the book of Philippians:  Paul offered prayer with joy (1:4), he had joy just seeing the joy of others in the faith (1:25), his joy would be made complete by seeing the progress of others (2: 2), he would share his joy with others, even under difficult circumstances (2:17), and urged others to do the same (2:18).  He wanted his fellow worker to be received with joy (2:29) and finally, his beloved brothers were his joy and crown (4:1).   

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13. God is a God of joy.  He wants us to experience it fully!   

Now we can begin to see how we can have joy, even when the economy is bad and penny pinching is once again the norm; when we hear the doctor say, “You have______________(fill in your own joy robbing diagnosis)” or   teen children have once again made poor decisions. 

What are reasons for Christians to have joy?   

Because of Jesus, we have:

a) the incredible privilege of approaching God in prayer to tell him all that is in our heart, Hebrews 10:19. 

b) a peace that defies understanding, Philippians 4:7. 

c) The inexpressible joy that is the result of our faith in God, 1 Peter 1:8, 9.   

There is joy in teaching the gospel and seeing the resulting obedience, joy in relationships with other Christians, and joy in just watching God in action - observing His creation as well as seeing His providence in our lives.  How often have you marveled, while reading His Word, of how time after time, He guarded and protected His children?  Shouldn’t it serve as a joy and confidence booster?  What a loyal God we serve! 

We may understand all of this in our intellect, but our emotion may still have problems. In order to get the most benefits from joy, we must also know some sadness.  Helen Keller once said, We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

Habakkuk was distressed because of the condition of his country.  After accusing God of not caring, his prayer for mercy in chapter 3 states his joy in the God of his salvation; a deep joy – the type of joy that quiets his fears.  

Joy as the fruit of the spirit.  Paul had it.  He even found joy in his sufferings!  Habakkuk had it.  Do you have it?  I hope so.  Joy can even be increased! I know I don’t have enough of it…yet.  Solution?  Set aside some time; get out the fertilizer (the Word), so our fruit from the Spirit can have a better yield.  Let’s work on it!  

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Peace

By Joyce Jamerson 

All people, through all ages have longed for peace.  As the years pass, the desire for peace may change according to circumstances and we may have varying conceptions or definitions of peace. On the world scale, we desire peace between nations, but this study is more about personal peace. Is it total calm, in mind, heart and soul? (I have this mental picture of walking in the woods on a pleasant fall day, drinking in the scenery and spending time with God.  Actually, it brings to mind Psalm 23.  Read it soon, or see how much of it you can quote.)  

Is it the ability to be quiet when those around us are being very opinionated?  Granted, there are times when holding our tongues would be a good thing, but then, there are times, in the face of evil, when we need to speak!  We can hardly agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said, “The only condition of peace in this world is to have no ideas, or, at least, not to express them.”   

When all around us screams of war, economical difficulties, marriage problems, unhappiness as a result of sin, how can we be at peace?  Wasn’t it Saint Francis of Assisi who said, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace”?  God knows this instrument can, from time to time, be anxious! 

Did you realize that peace is mentioned in every New Testament book, except First John?  It describes harmony between men, between nations, between God and man, and in the churches, giving a sense of closeness, rest and contentment.  The Greek word is eirene and more familiar to us is the Hebrew word, shalom

As we seek how to grow in this fruit of the Spirit, the recipe for having peace is to seek it and pursue it. 

“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear

of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life and loves length

of days that he may see good?  Keep your tongue from evil

and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good;

Seek peace and pursue it,” Psalm 34:11-14. 

Read the entire Psalm when you can.  Peter even quoted from the Psalm when he discusses submission in marriage (as well as in all of life) in 1 Peter 3.  After discussing how to have stronger marriages, Peter says, in verse 8, 9:  

“To sum it up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly,

kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil,

or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you

were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” 

We cannot have peace with God if we do not strive for peace in our homes. 

We hardly need to read Proverbs 21:9 to know that “it is easier to live in a corner of a roof, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Verse 19 even says “it is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.”  When we lived in Florida, I would frequently walk through the neighborhood behind us.  One house had an attached garage, and frequently, the man of the house could be clearly seen watching television in the garage!  He may have been there by choice, but I did wonder if that were the only place he could find any peace. 

Instructions are given in 1 Corinthians 7, for building better marriages.  We find there that sex is a tool for building, not a weapon for fighting; that wives and husbands alike should each have consideration for the other, in the fulfillment of sexual needs.  We also find that we should continue to strengthen our marriages if we live with an unbelieving mate.  Using the key words of Peter – harmonious, sympathetic, kindhearted, not returning insult for insult but giving a blessing instead – should help us in our quest for peace in our marriages.  Certainly, this also applies to child-rearing.  How much better our homes could be if mom and dad would strive for peace.  (Longsuffering or patience comes next in our fruit of the spirit study.  Our fruit is not fully ripe and ready for harvest!  Who among us has enough patience?)  Our children’s problems are every bit as much a problem to them, as our problems are to us.  As I think back, there were many times when my husband and I could have exercised more patience – but that’s the next study, isn’t it! 

When looking at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, look at how they are closely connected - love, joy, peace and patience are all intertwined.   

Contention is destructive in homes, jobs and churches.  Lack of peace has destroyed many a home, and split countless churches; purely because we, as Christians, have failed to develop the fruit of the Spirit.  We can’t hold our tongues and bury our opinions.  Gossip is rampant.  Good things do not result from majoring on the shortcomings of others.  All from Colossians 3 are the admonitions, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts; let the word of Christ richly dwell within you; whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”   

We can claim to be working on the fruit of the Spirit, but are we fooling ourselves?

A cheap, plastic piece of fruit can be embellished and airbrushed until it looks pretty good.  It can fool the eye until examined closely.  Are we content to have a cheap substitute when we could be growing the real thing?  We may behave pretty well at church or when with other Christians, but how are we when the chips are really down and we’re pressured by those who don’t hold our views?  Are we fooling ourselves in other areas?  Are we honest in all things – even little things?  Do we pilfer small things from our workplace, thinking no one will notice?  Fail to reveal all income on our taxes?  Tell little white lies?  Circumvent our husband’s leadership? We will never be totally at peace without addressing our bad habits. 

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, He preached peace and peace is made possible by His extraordinary sacrifice.  All peoples can know peace; racial tension can be ended because of Jesus.  Why would we not want to maintain that peace, and glory in the fact that He brought us that immeasurable gift?  When we bring glory to Christ through our personal lives, peace can be ours!   

As with joy, in the previous lesson, we can have peace, even when all around us is anything but peaceful.  We’ll begin to conquer the sin of worry.  Sheer worry can bring about a myriad of health problems; migraines, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, neck and back pain, indigestion, allergies and a host of stomach disorders! 

Consider Philippians 4:4-9 in the Phillips translation:

4:4-5 “Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.

4:6-7  Don't worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.

4:8-9   Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you.”

When verse 6 tells us not to worry about anything whatever, most of us have a ways to go!  We want that perfect peace, so our habit of worrying about it a bit before we tell God has to be addressed.  If we fix our minds on things listed above, we’ll be on the road to peace.  Don’t be derailed!

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit –  

Patience (or Longsuffering)

By Joyce Jamerson 

 .

William Shakespeare wisely said, “How poor are they who have not patience!  What wound did ever heal but by degrees.” 

We usually like to joke about our lack of patience by saying, we want patience!  Right now!  There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Patience is power; with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.”

Another says, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” Escaping a hundred days of sorrow sounds like a good thing, but there’s an even better reward for developing patience.  

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated,you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God,” 1 Peter 2:20.  

If we truly want to bring glory to God and find favor with Him, we’ll work hard on our patience.  Read on in that chapter to discover how Jesus excelled in this particular trait.  He wisely and patiently left any retaliation up to God. 

Patience is part of our learning and growing process and we have access to the greatest role model and Teacher.  Satan must be smiling when he sees how many times we fail to grow in this part of our fruit of the Spirit, but it may help to look again at Romans 7:5-17, (the scripture mentioned in the introduction as we began this study), and note Paul’s continual struggle  between good self and bad self. 

With shame, we can look back at how many times we failed to keep our cool when confronted with an unfair situation.  That may still happen, but the times should be fewer and fewer.  As we’re confronted each time, we should be developing more patience; just as we would develop a new skill.  Did you learn to play the piano the first time you sat at the keyboard?  Or learn to prepare a document the very first time you turned on a computer?   

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook a transgression,” Proverbs 19:11. 

God is the ultimate teacher of patience.  Look how many years went by before He kept His promise to Abraham.   
 

Note that our previous studies; love, joy and peace, were kind of general, but patience is getting more personal, right down to our thoughts and attitudes toward others. 
 

William Barclay, in Flesh and Spirit, points out that our patience with people is the basis of forgiveness.  It is this spirit which makes a man defer his anger as described above in Proverbs 19:11.  Refusing to be angry is halfway to forgiving.  It is also the basis of humility.  It prevents us from putting ourselves front and center of everything and making our feelings the most important.  Patience is also the foundation of fellowship as we see in Proverbs 15:18.  “A hot tempered man stirs up strife, but the man who is slow to anger quiets contention.”    

And then finally, Barclay states that patience is the basis of all good personal relationships, as well as the basis for true wisdom and lasting joy.  

How many relationships can you think back on that either flared because of impatience or were soothed by patience?  Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt?”   

Year after year Hannah, one of two wives, was taunted by Peninnah because Hannah was barren, 1 Samuel 1.  Although she wept, did not eat, and experienced great sadness, there is no record of her retorting against Peninnah.  She prayed repeatedly, and made a vow to the Lord – not a light vow but an intense promise, if she could only have a son.  Of course, we know the happy ending to this story.  She had a son, Samuel; dedicated him to her Lord and he was among the greatest leaders in the Old Testament.  She endured; the prophets endured; Job endured. Hannah knew where to turn when her heart was hurting.  She knew where to go for help.  She didn’t go here and there, relating the details of all the unkind things Peninnah said and did.  She wasn’t a drama queen about how much she had been hurt, and she didn’t have to take it any more, hurling unkind words to others.  She quietly isolated herself in prayer, seeking an answer to her problem. 

“And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you,” Ephesians 3:12-13. 

It’s interesting that in James 5:8, James says “to be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”  It takes strength to be patient.  In other words, buck up!  Stand tall!  We can do this!  Someone once said, “Patience is accepting a difficult situation without giving God a deadline to remove it.” 

We may be asking, “Is patience really that important?”  In your own private devotional, look up the following words in a concordance:  Forbearance, longsuffering, endurance, perseverance, and patience.  Look at the situations in which they are used and then ask the question again.   

Many of us could probably be patient during severe persecution, but what about on a daily level?  How patient are we with the clerk who miscalculated our bill?  With the driver in front of us who thinks a yield sign is a stop sign? With our small children as they struggle to learn a new skill?  With our school age children, who want to be their own boss?   

God has arranged this fruit of the Spirit; developing it is within our power.  He wants us to grow, being an example that will bring Him glory. 

“To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing,” 1 Peter 3:8,9. 

My hobby is quilting and I like to shop at Hobby Lobby.  Until we moved to north Alabama, I had never shopped at a Hobby Lobby.  My daughter-in-law, Jerrell, said, “Oh Mom, you’ll love Hobby Lobby.  It’s like Michaels!  On steroids!”

The music, usually an instrumental hymn of some sort, is calming; none of the raunchy rock stuff that grates on your nerves.  Their mission statement includes honoring God and there is a particular clerk who always says, “Have a blessed day.”   

Let’s do have a blessed day and as we grow in patience, be more of a blessing to others. 

“The end of a thing is better than its beginning.  The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.  Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools,” Ecclesiastes 7:8,9.

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit 

Kindness

By Joyce Jamerson 

One of my favorite quotes is about friendship from a book entitled, “A Life for a Life,” by Dinah Craik, 1859.  

Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,  but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain  together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep  what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.   

      How valuable to have a friend who has that breath of kindness!  We innocently make stupid mistakes at times, and that special friend will gently encourage us while overlooking our failures.  Our mutual trust builds a special bond and enables us to be that special friend to others by developing kindness.  Interesting it is, to see how many times kindness is mentioned in Paul’s letters.  Kindness falls right behind patience in our text of Galatians 5: 22-23 and is seen in many of Paul’s lists.   

      In Colossians 3:12-13, Paul tells us to: “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” 

The NIV says to clothe yourselves with kindness. Wrap it around you like a blanket.  Place it deep in your heart; make a true effort every day to be kind, especially to your spiritual brothers and sisters.  It must delight God to see His children be kind to one another, and how sad He must be to see that fruit go undeveloped.   

       Have you ever googled kindness?  It’s amazing to find so many suggestions!  Several years ago there was a movement to do random acts of kindness that was very successful but kindness needs to be an every day event.  Opportunities are everywhere.  A few weeks ago, as I was leaving the Aldi supermarket (where you have to insert a quarter into a slot to get a buggy), a woman was searching through her billfold for a quarter and I could tell it was in vain.  I gave her my quarter (it’s returned when you return the buggy) and it made my day to see her delight.  You would have thought I had given her a gold coin!   

Kindness grows. Years ago, when two of our sons reached college age at the same time, some dear friends contributed a substantial amount toward their education.  We were amazed that they wanted to do that for us.  As time has gone by, it has been our pleasure to pass on that kindness, in order to help several others. 

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."


     The ultimate example of kindness, though, is in Jesus.  We know Him to have a gentle touch.  He let little children come to Him, brought sight to a blind man by gently touching him, cared for the ill and comforted the grieving.  In Titus 3:4, Paul speaks of the kindness of our Savior and His love for all mankind by providing a means of salvation.  We, through His mercy and by His grace can be saved and inherit the hope of eternal life. Jesus has freed us from the guilt of our past and from fear in our future. Surely we will glorify Him in the developing of our kindness.   

     We will grow, says Peter in 1 Peter 2:1-3 when we “have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”  But there are things we have to put away in order to taste.  We will “put aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation….” 

      Be prepared; there are daily obstacles.  If you’re a mother, you can identify with the mom who had a very personal experience with a verse in Proverbs 31.  She was in the bedroom, actively chastising her children at the time, and evidently she was all in a lather about something they had done, when her husband passed by the doorway and gently said, “And the law of kindness is on her lips,” Proverbs 31:26.   Today’s English Version says, “She speaks with a gentle wisdom.” 

"Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel,” Proverbs 11:17 NLT. 

      In our battle of good self against bad self, developing kindness benefits us as well as those to whom we are kind. Patience goes hand in hand with kindness.  Kindness demands that we hold our tongues when we’ve had to wait a long time for a particular service.  Kindness is taking patience a step further. The clerk is new and you’ve waited and waited.  Does she really deserve to be chastised because we were inconvenienced?  

Consider the following seven greatest gifts of kindness, from the website www.helpothers.org. 

  • Gift of service: donate to a cause, as a holiday gift for your best friend.
  • Gift of affection: be generous with hugs, kisses and pats on the back.
  • Gift of laughter: clip cartoons, share funny stories.
  • Gift of a written note: send a 'thank you' note, write a letter to an old friend.
  • Gift of a compliment: a simple 'you look great today', a sincere 'thank you for a wonderful meal'.
  • Gift of listening: no interrupting, no daydreaming, no responding, just listening.
  • Gift of solitude: spend some time in silence, help others spend some time in silence. 

"If there is any Kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."  William Penn 

     Consider David’s words in Psalms 69:16; 100:5; 106:1; and 109:21. 

     “What moves the heart of the Psalmist is not the moral goodness of God, but the sheer kindness of God.  His only claim to God’s gifts, and his only hope of forgiveness lie in the fact that God is kind; his only prayer is that God should be merciful to him because God is kind” (Flesh and Spirit, William Barclay). 

     In your daily study, spend some time with Romans 2:1-10 and see how Paul warned against taking God’s kindness lightly.  Could it be that our stubbornness and selfish ambition will keep us from heaven?  

     David, as king, could have easily reasoned that in his position, he could do as he wished, but instead, he remembered his good friend, Jonathan, and wanted to show kindness toward anyone from his family. (Read about their vow in 1 Samuel 20). David brought Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth, to Jerusalem to care for him.  After suffering from Saul’s wrath, surely he could have reasoned that he didn’t owe Saul’s family any favors!  David was a good instrument of the kindness of God.   

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men,” Luke 6:35. 

      Our kindness-focus for today?  Becoming aware of opportunities!  Why?  So we can be a partaker of the divine nature as Peter suggests in 2 Peter 1.  It is for this reason that we want to grow in the following graces. 

 “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins," 2 Peter 1:5-9. 

It’s Spring!  Time for a lot of good growing! 

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Goodness

By Joyce Jamerson 

      As we continue in our study of the fruit of the Spirit, we have covered love, joy, peace, patience and kindness and when we think of each of those words, a specific meaning comes to our minds.  But what do we think of when we hear the word goodness?  There are lots of good things: good recipes, good friends, good sermons, good books, good children and good hearts.  We could go on and on.  In a way, goodness is hard to separate from our last study of kindness.  The Greek word for goodness is Agathosune, and carries the meaning of benevolent or active goodness. It is more extensive than Chrestotes, the word for kindness. It’s taking our study of kindness one step further, with more to achieve. 

      William Barclay, in Flesh and Spirit, says chrestotes is a quality of heart and emotion; agathosune is a quality of conduct and action, page 103.  So we begin to see that action as Paul said, “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another,” Romans 15:14They used their goodness, linked with knowledge to bring about change in one another.  

      To further help distinguish between the two, Barclay continues, “It was agathosune that Jesus showed when he drove the buyers and sellers out of the Temple (Matthew 21:13), and when he uttered his threats and condemnations against the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23), but it was chrestotes He showed when He dealt gently with the penitence in the heart of the woman who was a sinner and who anointed his feet (Luke 7:37-50)”  (Flesh and Spirit, page 103). 

      God is the definer of goodness; the origin of true goodness is in Him and He sets the ultimate standard.  “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations,” Psalm 100:5.  Over the span of time, God’s people have enjoyed His goodness.  Nehemiah states how Israel grew fat and reveled in God’s goodness (9:25), the great goodness which God gave them, 9:35.  Many times, they failed to recognize that goodness; their blessings from God.  Are we the same?   

      When we combine goodness and knowledge, we not only have the right mindset, but will gain motivation as well.  Just think what we could do with that combination!  We could be like Barnabas and be generous, honest and full of encouragement.  He was called “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,” Acts 11:24.   

      Our new selves bear the fruit of the Spirit.  The bad self that is in one of our key passages (Romans 7:18-21) has no motivation for developing goodness.   Paul was sure that nothing good dwelled in him, because of his daily struggles against evil.  He would do the very thing that he did not wish to do.  After acknowledging his struggle and asking who would set him free from this misery, he praised God.  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  You can almost feel his relief, and of course, through God’s Word, we can feel that same relief when we mold our lives by God’s standard.  

“And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life? And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments,’ " Matthew 19:16-18. 

      Through our obedience to God’s Word, and the application of that Word to our lives, our goodness will be shaped.  Our speech, dress, kindness and generosity will be evident to others; we’ve leaving that bad self behind. 

Paul warns the Ephesians: 

      “Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were

       formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk

       as children of Light for the fruit of the Light consists in all

       goodness and righteousness and truth,” Ephesians 5:7-10. 

      Have you ever been in a totally helpless situation, unable to find a solution until some good Samaritan unexpectedly came to the rescue?  Not only do we appreciate being rescued, but we are to also be the rescuers.  Cultivating good fruit does take time and attention and is not necessarily easy or convenient. In Word Points (a revolving daily devotional) for April 15, Gary Henry states:   

If our Lord chose the concept of crucifixion to describe the removal of sin from our lives, then we ought not to expect that process to be entirely pleasant. Deeply rooted habits can't be easily denied or conveniently removed. Their destruction requires nothing less than the dying of the person that we used to be.” 

  In your own private devotion, try to meditate on ways to develop more goodness; ways to let others see Christ in you so He may be glorified.   

    “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The

    one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has

    not seen God,” 3 John 11.


 Titus said, “…those who have believed God may be careful to  engage in good deeds.  These things are good and profitable

      for men,” Titus 3:8.   

      We have to be careful not to assign a lesser meaning to the word good, when used spiritually.  We tend to think of good as being ordinary when compared to better or best.  In this case, goodness is the best!  When creating our world, God “saw that it was good.”  It was the best!  It accomplished what He intended.  We are very aware of using God’s name wrongly when we hear, “O my God!”  It is used casually and carelessly these days.  How casually do we say “O my Goodness!”?  Is that not a euphemism for God? 

When we let our fruit of the Spirit grow, it accomplishes what God intended. There are rewards for goodness!  He wants our best and wants to do the best for us. Being secure in His goodness, we can heartily sing, “God is so good; God is so good; God is so good, He’s so good to me.”


We are very aware of using God’s name wrongly when we hear, “O my God!”  It is used casually and carelessly these days.  How casually do we say “O my Goodness!”?  Is that not a euphemism for God? -Joyce Jamerson

A comment from Suzette Joubert: "I whole heartedly agree that any euphemism is equal to blasphemy, using God's name in vain!! My concern is why is it a problem to steer clear of any form that relates to the blasphemous phrase O my G..??? If our goal is to give God the glory in everything we do and we earnestly strive to please Him, why should it be so difficult to avoid something that may jeopardize our influence?"

Response from Joyce:  It shouldn't be a problem, should it!  Some have habitually used softened expressions to the point that they do not even realize they are disdaining God's name.  It can be quite a challenge to remove it - a true fruit of the Spirit.  Thanks for stopping by to comment, Suzette.

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Faithfulness

By Joyce Jamerson 

”The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:23. 

      Great is Thy Faithfulness, by Thomas Chisholm, is one of my favorite hymns.  (I do so admire those who can put scripture to music in such a meaningful way; a way that stirs our souls and lifts our spirits!)

  Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
  There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
  Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
  As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
  Great is Thy faithfulness!
  Great is Thy faithfulness!
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
  All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
  Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

      Other things may change, especially during this time of uncertainly in our nation, but God’s faithfulness is steady and sure.  Our ability to conceive of God as continually faithful may depend somewhat on our own upbringing.  It may be difficult for some to grasp the mercy, the lovingkindness, the dependability of God, if their own father wasn’t loving and dependable.  In a recent conversation with someone who suffered both physical and mental abuse from her father, I asked, “If you could imagine having a good father, what traits would you want him to possess?”  Her descriptive answers: “Loving, tender, approachable, protective, strength.” 

“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness…The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds" Psalm 145:8,17

      We may have to deal with greed, financial bailouts, reduced hours at work or worse yet, layoffs and job loss, but we can know that during these difficult times, God’s Kingdom will stand and His faithfulness never ends. 

      By His own faithfulness, our heavenly Father shows us how to develop our faithfulness.  He has provided a way of salvation; given up His Son for us and given us His Holy Spirit as a promise or pledge of our inheritance – looking forward to redemption, 2 Corinthians 1:21,22; Ephesians 1:13,14.  God considers us His. 

      It is in His Spirit that we are developing our fruit of faithfulness.  What is meant by faithfulness?  We tend to refer to someone as faithful when they attend church services regularly, contribute to the work there and are helpful to others.  The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis and it is “the faith which is absolute trust, absolute self-surrender, absolute confidence, absolute obedience in regard to Jesus Christ….it is the quality of reliability, trustworthiness, which makes a man a person on whom we can utterly rely and whose word we can utterly accept…it will often appear that the best translation is simply loyalty,” Barclay, Flesh & Spirit, page 108. 

  • Wives are to be faithful in all things, 1 Timothy 3:11
  • Stewards (servants) should be faithful, 1 Corinthians 4:2, NKJV
  • Teachings are to be committed to faithful men, 2 Timothy 2:2
  • Christians are to be faithful unto death, Revelation 2:10
  • Jesus is a merciful and faithful High Priest, Hebrews 2:17. 

      Barclay further mentions that the Pharisees were being meticulous with tithing, yet they neglected the basic human qualities of justice, kindness and loyalty.  Their loyalty, their faithfulness, was interrupted by incessant ritual and the making of rules.  They wanted to be right before God, but neglected loyalty, kindness and reliability (faithfulness) toward their fellow men.  True faithfulness will be seen in our actions and those actions can cause others to either investigate and believe in God or turn away from Him.   

      Will we turn away from a troubled or grieving friend, a brother or sister in need or a co-worker who needs some encouragement?   How will we demonstrate our faithfulness? Is there a time limit to our assistance?  I remember the statement of a gentleman who helped a friend deal with the mood swings that are part of a bi-polar disorder.  He said, “It took a year of my life, but it was worth it!”  He has been a genuine, faithful friend.  Are we faithful in these things?  Do we give up too easily when the going gets rough?  Do we have rotten spots that need to be removed from our fruit in order to come to harvest?   

      What is the point of fruit of the Spirit, if we never bring that fruit to maturity?  Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me,” John 15:4. We are convicted and sure that abiding in Jesus will help us through the rough spots.  My mom called people who couldn’t follow through, wishy-washy.  They go this way one moment and in another direction the next – no follow through or completion of a task.  We’ll always be cultivating our fruit, but let’s not be wishy-washy

      Although we’ll never be mentioned in the hall of fame of faith (Hebrews 11), we probably have our own memories of someone who blazed the trail of faith for us, who helped along the way.  I’m indebted, not only to parents, but grandparents and even great-grandparents.  Many in the restoration movement went to great lengths to provide a greater heritage for others.  Through learning, we are uplifted by their trials and accomplishments.  You may have a friend, a relative or a certain preacher or teacher who taught you the truth of God’s Word and has inspired you to grow in faith.  If there is someone with whom you can study or trade ideas for teaching ~ someone who challenges you; that someone is a rare gift ~ a faithful friend.   

    The word fruit in the Greek is from karpos, meaning result or outcome.  How’s our faithfulness fruit looking?  What will be the outcome?  Can we be an inspiration to someone else? Betcha’ can! 

“Faith is the assurance (confidence) of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen" Hebrews 11:1

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness

By Joyce Jamerson 

To us, as women, the word gentle probably brings about visions of a soft touch, purring kittens and a wife and mother dealing with her household in gentle wisdom as depicted in Proverbs 31.   

      Our study, as you know by now is based on the NASV, which lists gentleness as the eighth fruit of the Spirit.  In the KJV, gentleness is listed as the fifth part and meekness is listed as the eighth.  Words have a way of changing through the years, and most of the newer versions use the word gentleness interchangeably with meekness.  We learn from other studies a good definition for meekness: strength under control.  

      The active result of kindness or meekness is calm discussion with others, taking time to explain important details and cultivating ways to be more loving, more gentle.  In this day of claiming our rights, think for a moment how gentleness comes into play in daily life with husbands, children, teachers, co-workers and others we meet in daily life. 

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit,

than he who captures a city,” Proverbs 16:32. 

      Visualize the physical strength needed and the mental planning necessary, in order to capture a city; not a small feat.  Capturing gentleness also requires strength and planning.  If we control our anger and tame our spirit, we’re more effective than if we could capture a city.  If you are a stay at home mom, you can relate to the frustration and exasperation that happens on a daily basis.  Mothering is not for the weak! If you’re involved with others in an office setting, your peace is also challenged.  There’s no escape from conflict in the daily world, regardless of your station in life. 

      In Ephesians 4:2, Paul is telling us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and in Philippians 4:5 to “let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” 

      The word in the Greek is prautes (prah-oo'-tace )Strongs:4240.

William Barclay says the secular Greek (noun, prautes; adjective, praus; and praunein, the verb) is used of persons or things that have in them a certain soothing quality; used of words which will soothe a man when he is in a state of anger or bitterness and resentment against life.  They are used of an ointment which can soothe the pain of an ulcerous wound and used of the gentleness which comes into the tone of the voice of a lover, Flesh and Spirit, page 112.  By implication, the word also means humble, Strongs:4239.  We are to be “adorned with a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of the Lord,” 1 Peter 3:3,4.  Doesn’t that suggest something we put on?  Develop? Something we can do to enhance our spiritual selves? 

      Remember how Paul loves to make lists?  In Colossians 3:12, he tells us to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other…,” indicating that we must work toward developing these characteristics.  Some would have us believe that these things come to us as a result of our obedience to Christ but we have to put away evil things to develop the good fruit.  Just as soil needs to be tested and weeds and toxins need to be cleared away from a physical orchard, we need to remove sin in order to have the best spiritual fruit. See 2 Peter 1:5-11 for yet another list; a list for growth. 

      Our spiritual gentleness comes into play when: 

      1) We show consideration for all men, as Paul instructed Titus, telling him not to malign anyone or be contentious but gentle, reminding him of the kindness and love of our Savior, Titus 3:1-4. 

      2) We have opportunities to teach others, first setting Christ in our own hearts and being able to tell them about the hope that is in us, with gentleness and reverence, 1 Peter 3:15.   

      3) We gently correct those who are in opposition, so they can escape the snare of the devil, 2 Timothy 2:25. 

      It takes strength and courage, as well as humility to be gentle.  As we study through Old Testament history, the outstanding example of gentleness and meekness is Moses; known as the most humble or meek man on the face of the earth, Numbers 12:3.  He did have his moments, but the heavy stuff, he left to God.  He knew who he was without having to defend himself against every slight or injustice.  Can we have the same calm and confident spirit with which he confronted Pharoah?  Of course we can; we can start right in our own homes and carry it on to our workplaces and the places with which we do business.  No need to wait for a grand time to show our gentleness. We can also share this gentle spirit with anyone with whom we have daily contact, letting it “be known to all men,” Philippians 4:5.  Can you recall a time your forbearing spirit was noticed?  What gentle women of the Bible can you bring to mind?   Hannah?  Abigail?  Mary?   

      Humility and courage brought strength to Ezra as he prepared to lead a group, returning to Jerusalem after being in captivity.  A fast was proclaimed, that they might humble themselves before God, to seek a safe journey, Ezra 8:21-23.  He had already told the king the hand of God would be with them and even though the king was willing, Ezra was ashamed to request troops and horsemen to accompany them.  How would it look to pray for God’s protection and then thwart His safeguarding?  How many times do we find a prayer on our lips, only to go on with our own plans soon after?  Do we really believe Philippians 4:6-7?  “…In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

      Paul said, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong,” 2 Corinthians 12:10. Humility had brought him strength.   

      Jesus is the example of true gentleness in the midst of conflict.  Being wildly popular one minute and hated the next is hard for us to imagine, even during our most difficult trials.  The right attitude when life turns against us will help us to endure those trials with gentleness or meekness.  Is it possible?  Too much to ask?  It may not be the easiest fruit to develop, but isn’t having the peace of God worth it? 

Ezra said, “The hand of God was over us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way,” Ezra 8:31.  

They prayed; they prepared; they prevailed. 

Encarta World English Dictionary puts prevail this way:

Get ready, set, equipped, geared up, organized, arranged,

all set, primed, willing, able. 

Ready?  Set?  Go! 
 

Who among you is wise and understanding?  Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom,” James 3:13. 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy,” James 3:17. 

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Fruit of the Spirit – Self-Control

Self-control ~ self discipline ~ willpower. 

By Joyce Jamerson 

 As we joke about self-control, the words above bring visions of shopping, chocolate, special diets and other activities that require restraint.  Someone smack me if I reach for that bag of Cheetoes one more time!   

      Remember when Art Linkletter or Bill Cosby would have special programs with children?  They would bring children into the room one by one, and tempt them with a piece of candy or a marshmallow, telling them to wait until he returned to eat it.  To make it even more interesting, they were told they could have two pieces if they would wait until he came back into the room.  They would twist and squirm, trying to exercise self-control; some did, others just went for it and succumbed rather quickly.   

      When reading the fruit of the Spirit list in Galatians 5, it’s interesting that love is the first value to be developed and self-control is the last.  Without love we have no incentive to develop the remaining characteristics; no basis for growth.  Without self-control, daily distractions can easily hinder us from our goal.  We can look at these nine qualities as a type of sandwich; love and self-control being the two slices that hold the remaining seven values in place.   

      Even though Felix liked having discussions with Paul, he became so frightened at the mention of righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come that he sent Paul away and refused to discuss it, Acts 24:25.  Should self-control frighten us?  Lack of it certainly should!  Peter includes self-control in his list of Christian graces, 2 Peter 1:6.  If we grow in these graces, he points out that we will neither be useless nor unfruitful.   

      Have you been inspecting your fruit as we go along?  Is it growing?  Our back yard garden is coming in right now, and almost every day, we check on the zucchini.  At times, we can only see leaves; there’s no evidence of growth.  The next day however, there’s a huge one that we missed the day before.  It was in there growing all the time!  Our fig trees have lots of tiny fruit so we’re hoping for a good harvest. The spiritual fruit we are developing may be tiny right now, but it’s in there growing and maturing.  You may be in a difficult period now and think your growth is too slow but patience, steadfastness and prayer will be like fertilizer!  We all go through some slow times.  Our spiritual development can be and should be a testimony to others, giving honor and glory to God.  We will be known by this fruit and sadly, we will also be known if it is lacking. 

      What are some evidences of self-control or lack thereof in Scripture?   

◊ Job was practicing self-control when he said he was full of words but his spirit constrained him, Job 32:18.   A controlled spirit is a spirit that builds bridges! 

◊ Joseph clearly had self-control when he was approached by Potipher’s wife and then removed himself from the situation, even though he served time in prison for doing so.  We didn’t say self-control would always be rewarding!  

◊ Samson released his secrets to a tantalizing female and paid the price, Judges 16:17.  

◊ Eli blew it when he failed to discipline his sons; being too busy and looking the other way when they needed correction, 1 Samuel 3:13. 

◊ Leadership didn’t come to Nehemiah through lack of discipline; his goals were firm and he wasn’t about to give up until the wall was completed, Nehemiah 2:17,18. 

◊ David’s lack of self-control led to a series of cover-ups for acting upon his lust; a good study of the progression of sin, 2 Samuel 11.

◊ Restraining our lips is wise, according to Proverbs 10:19; and James, in chapter 3 makes our challenge painfully clear when he says no one can control the tongue, verse 8. 

◊ Paul advises against the marriage relationship in 1 Corinthians 7:9, unless one is lacking in control of sexual passion; in which case, he should be married.   

◊ Qualifications for elders include self-control as well as being hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just and devout (Titus 1:8); good qualities for every Christian.   

      How many more?  We could go on and on.  Clearly, God wants us to develop and use self-control. Thayer defines it as: "the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites."  In the Greek, the word is egkrateia, which comes from the word kratos, meaning strength.  Only three times is the noun form found in the New Testament; Acts 24:25 (Paul and Felix), Galatians 5:23 (our text) and 2 Peter 1:6, (list of Christian graces) but the sense of it is implied in many other scriptures.  Barclay points out that if the word is used in an ethical sense, “it describes that strength of soul by which a man takes a hold of himself, takes a grip of himself, is in full control and possession of himself, so that he can restrain himself from every evil desire.” 

      We’ve looked at control issues involving others, but as we are looking within,  how do we measure up?  Will we continue to develop?  The following statement from 2 Chronicles 16:9 should bolster our confidence!  “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”   

Our Lord wants us to succeed!  Is your heart completely His?  In what areas are you struggling?  What keeps your fruit from developing?  

      Anger:  Do you lose it with husband, children or co-workers?  Ailing parents? 

      Language:  Are words that degrade God in your vocabulary?  Do you let casual slang creep into your speech? Slang that dishonors our Lord? 

      Finances:  How hard is it to stay on budget these days?  Is overspending a problem?  Has the economy made finances difficult?  Credit card debt because of failure to spend wisely?  Is your contribution the first thought or the last thought? 
 

      Possessions:  Do you own just to own?  What are true needs?  Pleasures?  Are they in balance?   

      Addictions: Shopping?  Food?  Drugs? Television?  Sexual?  Porn?  Other_____________ 

      Earlier in Galatians 5, we are told that if we walk by the Spirit, we will not carry out the desire of the flesh, verse 16.  Paul recognized how spirit and flesh work against each other and gave these warnings to the Galatians, knowing the reward that would come as a result of their spiritual development. Paul himself was the epitome of a self-controlled spirit; one who found joy even in difficulty. He learned from Jesus – the ultimate example of self-control.   

      Every day, we have choices to make.  When our heart is His, our Lord supports us; shows Himself strong and helps us to accomplish our goals, 2 Chronicles 16:9.  He’ll truly help us to choose well! 

“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man

who has no control over his spirit,” Proverbs 25:28. 

Series Conclusion next month:

Using Fruit of the Spirit to present our bodies as a living sacrifice.

eoslapis_bar2.gif

Using the Fruit of the Spirit to Present Our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice

by Joyce Jamerson 

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship,” Romans 12:1. 

      Throughout this study, we’ve been growing Spirit fruit and want to see our crop through to harvest. As I am writing, I can hear the drone of harvest machinery in the distance. Upon viewing a field of recently bailed hay, our daughter- in-law, Julie, made the comment that it must be a satisfying feeling for a farmer to grow a crop and see it through to harvest, knowing it will provide for his needs in the future. It can be a satisfying feeling, as well, to see a study through to the finish and be able to use it for future growth.   

      What is the significance of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice?  Perhaps reviewing some history will help put it into perspective. 

      Throughout Bible history, God wanted to dwell among His people.  During the wanderings, the presence of God was signified either by cloud or by fire as they traveled, Exodus 13:21.  As time went on, a tabernacle was built (Exodus 25:8), a cloud covered the tabernacle and it was filled with the glory of the Lord.  God was with them, His presence always evident throughout their travels (Exodus 40:34) and they were given specific ways in which to worship.  A permanent temple was planned by David and eventually built in Jerusalem by his son, Solomon.  It was a dwelling place for God and the center of spiritual life for all Israel, 2 Samuel 7:5-13; 1 Chronicles 29. 

      Sacrifices were intricate, detailed and costly but offered with gladness.  Animals for sacrifice were to be the best!  Without blemish.  David’s leadership in this area had been well established when he refused to accept Araunah’s offer of items needed for sacrifice in order to stop a plague.  David said, “…I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing,” 2 Samuel 24:20-24.  

      Everything centered on holiness.  Even the turban of the High Priest had a gold plate, inscribed with the words, “Holy to the Lord,” Exodus 28:36.  Only the High Priest could approach God in behalf of the people and only once a year. 

      Travel on through history as disobedient Israel is taken away from the land given to them and sacrifices dwindled.  Synagogues came into being, worship changed and some returned to their homeland.  Soon there were 400 years of silence with no prophets; no miracles and God did not speak ~ at all.  Approaching was a time; a time that had to be exactly right for the coming of the Messiah, a new high priest who would bring a new covenant.  Thinking i,n new terms was not easy nor was giving up power.  Dissension, jealousy and resentment from His own people led Jesus to the cross.  Time and prophecy were being fulfilled as the new law came into being and Jerusalem was still the hub of spiritual life.  It was at that very temple on the day of Pentecost when God’s plan was revealed to both Jew and Gentile and the church was established. Eventually, in A.D. 70, the temple was destroyed, resulting in the complete end of the Jewish system.  

     They were without a temple.  We can only imagine the loss they must have felt.  The early Christians had to be taught, diligently and patiently, in order to understand the new order; the church of which Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone, 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20. Jesus as a High Priest?  Our lives are now our sacrifice?  Living stones in a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4, 5)?  How could they wrap their minds around all the changes?  The sacrifice is now spiritual and personal.  The Jewish temple is gone and in them is a new temple; their sacrifices will come from the heart.  Even Gentile converts understood the concept because of their own sacred temples stones in a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4, 5)?  How could they wrap their minds around all the changes?  The sacrifice is now spiritual and personal.  The Jewish temple is gone and in them is a new temple; their sacrifices will come from the heart.  Even Gentile converts understood the concept because of their own sacred temples  

     Look again at Romans 12.  Paul instructed his audience regarding how to be a sacrifice because it was a big change for them.  He wanted them to use their gifts; develop their fruit.  Love is first on the list of fruit of the Spirit and their love needed to be without hypocrisy.  Paul is listing more things to be accomplished.  (He’s good at that, isn’t he!) Read the whole chapter, but especially verses 9-21.  They didn’t have to have a great and wondrous faith; just a little faith in a great and wondrous God.  That faith would lead them to avoid things of the world and focus on the good and acceptable will of God.   

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are,” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17.  

      If we are part of God’s temple, the church; then our bodies, our hearts are now God’s dwelling place.  We are His temple; His Holy Spirit is in us.  Just as sacrifices long ago were a sweet fragrant aroma to God, our reasonable (spiritual) service will also be as perfume, a fragrance of Christ to God, 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.  God in His sovereign wisdom has planned our future; we are His.  He wants to live in us if we will let Him, so how can we use our bodies in careless ways instead of glorifying God through the blessings He has given us? 

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body,” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. 

        Developing our fruit is testimony to our temple.  In John 15, there were conditions to fruit bearing; nourishment must come from the vine and pruning is sometimes in order.  Are we attached to the vine in the right way?  Do we resent being pruned in order to establish new growth?  God allows us to be confronted with situations that will result in growth.  (It’s called learning from our mistakes!) Do we dare mistreat our bodies and damage our sacrifice?  Present blemished fruit?  If your body requires special care because of health difficulties, are you diligent in that care? 

        We are given one physical body with which to serve God; one body to present to God as a living and holy sacrifice, having been bought with a price by the perfect sacrifice; the blood of the Lamb of God.  Recently, while studying with another woman, we talked about prayer, worship and singing as well as other sacrifices.  We tend not to see them as sacrifices because we do them on a regular basis, but these things are a sweet aroma to God.  Every time we honor our sisters through love, weep with them, share joy with them and have the patience to love them when they’re not particularly lovable; peace will abound and our actions will be as a pleasant perfume.   

        Scented candles are very popular because of their varied fragrances.  Good quality candles will last a long time and a custom scent can be picked that is pleasant to us.  Poor quality candles are just that.  They burn unevenly and the cheap, faint aroma doesn’t last.  We have the ability to be the very best of quality; a sweet, fragrant aroma that lasts.  Why?  Because it’s our privilege! God has given us His Spirit and it is our privilege to develop fruit as He intended and to use that fruit for His glory.  

Plant, prune and grow!

eoslapis_bar2.gif

. 

Our Fruit of the Spirit study has now concluded and I’m in the process of trying to decide what to do next.  If you have some special areas of interest with a Looking Within focus, be sure to send a note, via the link on this page. 

An expanded, more in-depth 13 lesson study of the Fruit of the Spirit will soon be available through Spiritbuilding, probably the first of the year. The title is Heading For Harvest.  While you’re at www.Spiritbuilding.com, you may want to glance at other good study materials including my previous book, Will You Wipe My Tears, a manual for helping others through sorrow.  

This month is a light trip through memory lane ~ enjoy! 
 

Big Brothers and Bicycles

Joyce Jamerson 

When we outgrew our Sunday afternoon walks in the woods with Dad and Boze, the family dog, my brother and I would take off on our bicycles to explore.  Of course, when we were meeting up with friends, we girls had to have the right outfit ~ blue jeans, one of my dad’s white shirts and a sailor hat.  Don’t ask me why that became the style in the ‘50’s but it was.  Completing the look were bobby socks and saddle oxfords. 

It was a safer time then.  We would go trick or treatin’ on Halloween with never a thought of being harmed; and the only trick involved was turning over an occasional garbage can. Our only restriction was Mom & Dad’s curfew.  If we were so daring as to miss curfew, there would be a price to pay.   

Memories of being together with my brother are precious to me.  Being two years apart, we were at the same school; in band together; double-dated together (ewww, double dating with your brother?), went bowling, played carpet golf and generally had fun.  We won’t go into the time that he took me to the parking lot of the church around the corner, to ride his Cushman.  One problem.  He forgot to show me where the brake was.   Yep, tomboy that I was, I’m still around to tell that story.  He was a good big brother; a protector, and I got to do more, go out more because he was with me.   

He still is a good brother and we still like to do things together.  Just last summer, the four of us; he & his wife, my husband and I, went to Ohio for a family reunion.  I was tempted to yell, “Are we there yet?”  But we were in an airplane, so I figured it would lose some of its punch if I did that.  Our childhood trips from Virginia to Ohio involved taking our pillows and deciding who got to sleep on the hump, since we drove at night to escape the heat.  No AC in the good ‘ol days.   

Have you ever been separated from family and just ache to see them?  You may make intricate plans and probably go to great lengths to make sure it becomes a reality, possibly hitching rides with a friend or inviting a companion to keep you company while you drive.  As the destination grows nearer, thoughts are centered on how much longer it will be until you see the faces that are near and dear to you. 

Sometimes, I long for heaven in the same way.  Growing older and looking within does that for you, I guess ~ knowing the odds are that you don’t have too many more years to serve here ~ or too many years to have an influence on some beloved friends and family. There will be a time to say good-bye; and then will come a time when I will bow my knee before Jesus and have the glorious experience of meeting the big brother I’ve only seen through faith.