THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

(July 17, 2021) Robert McQuillan responds to a question linking with our The Wigglesworth Challenge article and Geri B’s Abiding in the Vine

Dear Dr Robert
You’ve encouraged me to trust the Holy Spirit. Please explain about the fruit of the Spirit. Mitch

Hi Mitch

Most happy to share on this… but it means writing a full article!

Firstly, fruit grows and is meant to be enjoyed.  ‘Fruit’ is karpos, usually used in connection with the vine (See John 15:1-5’s requirements!). Singular in source, it’s collective multiple manifestations are as if the first mentioned love – is the fruit that contains all the rest.

In Galatians 5:25, Paul urges us to follow the Spirit. Follow is stoicheo keeping in step, walking virtuously and orderly in respect to flowing in the fruit of the Spirit, thus displaying the character of Jesus, not the works of the flesh.

To simplify Galatians 5:22-23’s declaration of the love aspects of the Spirit’s fruit, let me quote Donald Barnhouse’s definition: ‘Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love’s touch. Goodness is love’s character. Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins.’

1. Love
The basis of being an active Christian is demonstrating agapeo – love that’s awakened by a sense of value in the preciousness of a person, which causes one to cherish others, a love of approval and esteem.

Our greatest example of demonstrated agapeo is Jesus paying the price of sin for us by giving his life on Calvary’s cross.

Many people, caught up with challenges and decisions, are longing to be acknowledged, cared for, shown love, prayed for. Not just pity-pats but offers of hope in Jesus that as they do their part he will move in and help and bless.

We can give love, even if we get hurt… love will never fail us but will bring its own rewards… it’s a fruit that reproduces! But just remember that this love, this God-love gives without requiring or demanding anything in return!

2. Joy
Chara… cheerfulness, calm delight, from chairoto be cheerful, calmly happy and well off, to be well. A Jesus characteristic within us that enables us to leap with joy even when many things are going wrong.Our hope is always in Jesus! Even in our own darkest hour, we can reach out to bless others.

Our great habitual phrase is ‘God bless you.’ NT was charis ka eirene…’grace and peace.’ When the love of God fills our hearts we experience joy and peace that do not depend on circumstances!

Joy is more than pleasure! We’re tripartite beings. Pleasure is usually equated with the body, happiness with the soul, and joy with the spirit. Happiness and pleasure depend so much on earthly, outward happenings, circumstances and things. But chara is founded on –

1) Having a deep, rich relationshipand sweet communion with God.
2) Knowing his grace (mercy, goodness, love, forgiveness, acceptance, blessings) is always towards us.

Samuel Gordon wrote: ‘Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy. He had joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross.’

3.   Peace
Eirene… inner peace is ours, a very special assurance that all will be well… as Jesus assured his frightened disciples. Eirene is mentioned some 90 times in the NT and was (think Irene) a very popular girl’s name.

Eirene related to serenity enjoyed under a good and just government ruler. Villagers would call the keeper of public peace, ‘the Eirene’ the one who would justly look after them. Think about this in respect of Jesus… the hand that holds the universe also holds us!

My own breakthrough came in a desperation moment… given the task of driving a tractor at Bible college camp – something I’d never done before – I couldn’t stop it heading for the farmer’s Humber Hawke car and disaster struck. I instantly crumbled! No one, fellow students nor the kind owner, could comfort me. But, alone on my knees in a nearby paddock, the Holy Spirit met me, fell on me afresh and peace flooded up from within and down from heaven. It was like that John 20:19 incident.

4.    Patience
Makrothumiaan attitude of love and peace towards God, one another and ourselves.Upsets with ourselves and people happen! This fruit keeps us at ease in difficult times and curbs anger and flaring up.

Now it’s not weak, insipid or a fatalistic attitude toward life where we sit back and do nothing… ‘Cecera, cera… kumba aye… whatever will be will be.’ It’s a force of enormous power whereby you can refuse to be hassled, angry or thrown.

But, Mitch, it takes time and must be developed. Jesus is our perfect example of longsuffering. How does he put up with us? (We heard recently about a minister who still displays nasty impatience!) We must learn to be patient with life itself, others, God and ourselves.

5. Kindness
This is chrestotes, tender-hearted graciousness, a lost Christian virtue. To be hurt rather than to hurt…going even deeper! It’s goodness of heart in action and deeds even towards those who have hurt us and done us wrong. Now that really tests our Christianity, Mitch! But the Spirit helps us make it.

There’s an old saying… ‘As impulsive in kindness as explosive in anger.’ God is impulsively kind and forgiving and ever so willing to quickly bless and help. Jesus moved quickly to be kind to people in need or just to bless them. We’re called to be like Jesus in words and action! Be quick to be kind!

Donald Gee writes, ‘God is kind; and to manifest kindness as a fruit of the Spirit is to be like God in one of the best-loved of his attributes (Luke 6:35).’

6. Goodness
Agathosuneparticularly a Bible word, not appearing in secular Greek, it related to the goodness and uprightness of God. And Romans 15:14 tells us that we should be full of God’s goodness.

Goodness in its broadest sense is an action of high moral quality involving integrity through being fair and generous yet strong.

Jesus was good and fair toward the woman caught in adultery but strong when he cleansed the temple.

God is totally good, and his goodness is towards us at every point. This fruit leads to good works eg 1 Timothy 6:10. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11KJV we’re called to be counted worthy… ‘and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness.’

Stanley Horton has written ‘This is what makes us God’s noblemen. The best way to describe is being like Jesus.’

7. Faithfulness
Pistis… an action and basic requirement in all Christians. Faithfulness towards God, his word and commands, spouses (not just sexually but with your mind and also during illnesses and financial stress…  ‘richer or poorer’) and family, employer (in good times and bad). It speaks of reliability, trustworthiness.

God is faithful towards us no matter what we do. We must learn to develop in our faithfulness towards him, his ways, and word, Mitch, for if we will be faithful to God and his enterprises, knowing that our life can be spent in no better way, we will delight his heart and his blessings will multiply towards us.

8. Gentleness
Praotesregarded as the most untranslatable of words! Involves humbleness and gentleness which seem to imply meekness and weakness. But not so! Moses and Jesus were described as being meek (Numbers 12:3; Matthew 11:29) but they were both strong men!

Best described as a lion in a cage with incredible strength kept under control and in reserve. Jesus is our perfect example…kind, strong, gentle, humble, fiercely lifting Peter up out of the water yet gently forgiving from the cross.

Has to do with submission to God’s will (Matthew 5:5), teachableness (James1:21), and considerateness (1Corithians 4:21). The one who is meek doesn’t fight God or his will, avoids pride and shows gentle concern for others, and has a great inner strength and peace…at rest with God, him(her)self and others.

Donald Gee summarises it this way: ‘The reward of going through the school of meekness is that we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:25).

9. Self-control
Egrates…  a word indicating not temperance (abstinence) but self-mastery… able to hold old desires, pleasures and passions in check. Sacrificing the lesser for the higher good, an athlete under strict discipline in order to run and win (1 Corinthians (9:25).

Again, Jesus is the example. He refused to allow anything of self, the flesh or the devil to have mastery over him. So must we, Mitch, if we are really to truly shine forth Jesus, for if unsaved folk only see us repeatedly giving into the things of the flesh… anger, unwholesome desires, destructive compulsions, bad habits, wrong language, despair, fear… then we have nothing different to offer them in Jesus.

The Holy Spirit who helped Jesus will help us! As Thomas Holdcroft put it, ‘It’s not the control of self by self but control of self by yielding to the control of the Spirit.’Thoughts of doubt, depression, unworthiness, anger, tiredness, give-it-away-ness, what’s-it-all-about-ness, anger, retaliation and such will fade!

You have the Spirit within, Mitch… let him have control and bubble forth! You’re a winner in Jesus… keep letting the potential out!

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Got a question for either Dr Robert or Pr Maureen McQuillan? Email to OnlinerConnect@gmail.com   Link: The Wigglesworth Challenge
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