Summary: The nine attributes of fruit of the Spirit, spelled out in Galatians 5: 22-23 are absolutely key to understanding God’s perspective of what we ought to be.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5: 22-23)
We’ve been at this study of the fruit of the Spirit for eight weeks now; and we’ve got one week yet to go. Why spend nine weeks studying two Bible verses when this weekly letter is supposed to be about finding and achieving purpose in our lives?
The reason we’ve spent so long on the fruit of the Spirit is the same reason I started this letter in the first place. It’s the reason I started True Potential Publishing. A lot of what we’ve been told, a lot of what we’ve come to believe, about purpose, success, achievement, fulfillment, meaning and human potential is wrong. It starts in the wrong place; which means you end up in the wrong place.
The nine attributes of fruit of the Spirit, spelled out in Galatians 5: 22-23 are absolutely key to understanding God’s perspective of what we ought to be. The term “fruit” means “end product” or “result.” The “result” of God’s Spirit dwelling inside of you is (or should be) these nine attributes we’ve been studying. And, as we’ve discovered, these attributes God expects us to exhibit are really attributes of God Himself. God’s purpose for us is to be more like Him. The Bible calls it “being conformed to the likeness of his son.” (Romans 8:29)
They’re the building blocks of human purpose. Purpose begins with being conformed into the likeness of God. The tragedy of the world’s concept of man’s purpose is that it begins and ends with man. They start in the wrong place … they’ve got to end up in the wrong place.
There may be no better example of the difference between God’s idea of success and man’s idea of success than the idea of “gentleness.” Another word for gentleness is meekness. Both gentleness and meekness portray a sense of submission. From man’s perspective, meekness means weakness. From God’s perspective, nothing could be further from the truth.
Gentleness is a measure of true strength and maturity. It’s a sign that I’m taking on the attributes and perspective of God. Gentleness speaks of relationship on three levels: my relationship with God, my relationship with others and my relationship with myself.
A gentle spirit in my relationship with God is a sign of trust. It’s a sign that I’m relying on God to act on my behalf; relying on God’s strength rather than my own. It’s submission to Him; the understanding that He’s the author of my purpose and destiny and that His will for my life isn’t up for a vote. It’s His plan, He’s in charge, He’s the potter and I’m the clay.
Even understanding that, when life is looking up, I have a tendency to revert back to relying on myself. When life is good it’s easy for me to trust in me. I don’t know why it’s so easy for me to slip into the habit of self-confidence when things are going good, but it seems to be a universal phenonmenon.
Our society as a whole may be suffering from the good-times self-confidence disease. As a culture, we’ve had it pretty good for a long time. The better things are the less we feel we need to include God in our daily plans.
I’ve got to admit, I like it better when things are going well than I do when things are going bad. I don’t want to wish any hardship on myself or on our nation as a whole, but it seems to be a truth that we reach out to God more when things go wrong.
Even when things begin to go wrong, I still believe I can keep things under control through my own efforts. When I start to see things go south, my first response is to jump in and fix it; as if the problem isn’t worthy of relying on God’s help if I think I can still handle it on my own.
Finally, when things have gotten so far beyond my control that I have no hope of fixing them without help I cry out to God, “Oh God, You’re in control. Please get me out of this!” THEN, my problems are worthy of God’s attention.
I may feel in control sometimes, I may feel like I’m loosing control sometimes and I may feel like things are completely out of control sometimes. The reality is that I’m fooling myself to ever think that I had any real control in the first place. It would be a lot easier just to trust in Him whether things are good, bad or in between.
When I know that God, provides for me, defends me, and guides me, it’s easier for me to regard others with a gentle spirit. Why should I be offended if I’m not responsible for my defense? Why should I be proud or haughty if God fights my battles and wins my victories?