Last time, we discussed about cleansing and sanctification as a requirement to attain spiritual growth and success. To do this, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which will help us establish a strong spiritual will. Without the will of the spirit, flesh can overcome us and prevent us from doing the right things.
Apostle Paul discussed attributes, traits and characters that will help us attain such state. These character traits are Christian values engraved in our hearts through faith and listening to the Words of God, but were not enhanced by some because they never practice them. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5: 22-23 NIV)
As God called us to serve Him, we are also encourage to bear fruits, and these fruits were mentioned by Paul as the fruits of the Spirit. Notice in the above verses, there are nine (9) fruits or characters that Christians should possess to be spiritually successful. These character or traits are from God Himself, they are His own attributes and He wants us to possess them because we are called to perfection. Without possessing these values, we can not achieve the perfection that God wants for us.
Love is as powerful as death…
Among these traits, LOVE stands out. It is the fulfillment of the law. It is also the most powerful among the other values. It is God’s foremost trait and He wants us to have it as our most powerful character.The Bible said love is as powerful as death. When death comes to us, nobody can stop it. Likewise, if we possess love, especially the godly love, nothing can surely stop us from giving it.
Love can be defined in two contrasting ways. It can be selfish, as the love of men, wanting always something in return, or it can be unselfish, like the love of God for us all. The love of Christ is self-denying, self-sacrificing, and the foundation of all graces.
Apostle Paul writes the definition of love in his letter to Corinth, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Love, as explained by Paul is a very broad topic, it encompasses several virtues inside it. If we say we have love, but we are not patient, then love is not with us.
If until now, we envy other people because they possess wealth and gifts more than what we have, and not happy about it, then love is not with us.
If we did something and we fail to be humble, then love is not with us.
If we seek the attention of others when we want to do something good, then it is not love in us.
If until now, we can not control our temper, and can get easily carried away by our emotions, then love is not with us.
If we still seek other people’s mistakes, and do not forget everything that people have done wrong to us, and we can’t afford to forgive and forget, then love is not with us.
If we are still happy to do bad things, and always wanting to let it happen, then definitely, love is not with us.
If we say we have love, but do not give it, do not share it, and keep it always in ourselves, then what we have is a love that is not true godly love.
If we say we have love, but do not hope, do not trust, do not persevere, and always fail because we always give up, then love is not with us.
We can be the greatest man to ever live on this earth, because we have the greatest gift flowing through us, and though we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, but if we are not walking with the spirit of love and humility, then we will be nothing.
Picture this, when we are sinners and had come to the Lord, the angels of God in heaven have had great joy over us. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.(Luke 15:10 NIV)
If the angels in heaven felt joy with the sinners who repented and believed in God, the same feeling of joy should be manifested by the sinners who received forgiveness from God. It is not only the forgiveness of sins that gave us great joy, but also, because God had accepted us and gave us the right to be His sons and daughters. (John 1: 12-13)
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that must be manifested in a believer is the character of Joy. It is defined as having great delight and gladness of heart. It is a happy state that results from knowing and serving God.
Jesus promised one thing to His disciples, He says, I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (John 16:20) Jesus wants us to be happy and be filled with joy while serving God. We may encounter difficulties, sufferings and travails every time, but that does not mean we have to weep like others who loose their hope and faith.
The spirit inside the believers push them to continue serving God with joy in their hearts. Even if they suffer from many trials in this life, they continue with overflowing joy. This is what God expects with His believers. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2 Corinthians 8:2)
Why does God want us to have joy in hearts while serving Him? It is because that our God is a God of joy. He wants us to be happy because He is a happy God, especially when He sees His children performing His pleasures and desires, just like a father to his children.God’s spirit of joy should be manifested in His believers. And a true believer always find ways to be happy and feel the joy in their hearts amidst the many sufferings in life.
When Paul writes to the brethren, he says, In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. (Philippians 1:4) He wants the brethren of the church to feel every single bit of joy he feels, the joy of serving God.
What makes a believer feel joy and happiness while serving God? For a believer, who truly offered his life in the service of God, there is nothing that can give joy in his heart. King David’s joy was to sing to the Lord and dwell in the house of God all the days of his life. Paul’s joy is to be with the rest of the brethren who helped him in their own little way to preach the Gospel of God.(Philippians 2:17)
The joy of the fish is to swim in the water. Likewise, the joy of a believer is to be with God always, to be with the rest of his brothers and sisters from whom he can do fellowship with them, help each other in every problems they encounter, being with them in the ministry and propagation of the Words of God, strengthening themselves in prayers, meditations and Bible studies, and most especially being with them to perform worship, sing praises and congregational intercessory prayers.
There is joy in the hearts of Christians who although did not see God, yet they believed and loved. (1 Peter 1:8)
Our joys may not be full yet, yet we have shown God and all the people that we are joyful Christians. We suffer, yet we are filled with joy. We feel joy the most because of the promise that when Jesus come again, He will give us the great joy that no one can take from us.
With all the travails and uncertainties of life, why do Christians feel calm and quiet in everything they do? Where did they get the strength and courage to face everything with peace in their hearts?
Peace of mind nowadays is very hard to find. People lost their peace because they don’t know what is true peace. They have different ideas of peace. Some find peace when they are stable financially. Some find peace when there is no problem in their romantic relationships. Other’s find peace in their wealth, power and honor.
According to the Bible, “there is a way of PEACE.” (Luke 1:79) This means, if we think peace is hard to find, there is a way to find it. Consider this, the Bible says, Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased. (Luke 2: 14 BBE), peace is automatic to men who please God. While serving God, they are at peace.
Some dictionaries define peace as tranquility of soul. Tranquility means quietness, quietude, a state of peace and quiet, and a disposition free from stress or emotion.Peace is also defined as the presence of right relationships, a sense of well-being and fulfillment that comes from God and is dependent on His presence. Peace gives inner tranquility and poise to Christians because of their trust in God.
Without peace operating in our lives, we easily become rattled, shaken, tormented and knocked off with our problems, sufferings. and adversities.
Jesus inspires His disciples when He gave them true peace. True peace comes from God, the peace we receive from this world is not true peace because it is only temporary. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
And with all the sufferings that a Christian will about to face, he has peace to face it. A true Christian is inspired by the words of God. And His words are the source of the inner peace within them. Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus inspires us to overcome hardships, trials and sufferings in this life. Don’t worry because He had set us an example, He had overcome this world. God allows sufferings to happen, but He left His peace to whom He pleases to use it as an instrument and aid to overcome everything. God is the God of peace, and He wants to share it with every one of us.
May the Peace of God be with us all!!!
Longsuffering is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and is sometimes defined as patience. We can never learn to be patient until we see ourselves in full control of every thing we do.
The world we live in right now became dangerous because many people did not learn to be patient. Some eager to earn money instantly and can not afford to wait long years of hardships, resulting to commit serious crimes. Too many people are killed because of lost of temper and became out of control of their emotions, mainly because of lack of patience.
Everything now is almost instant, fast and quick. People can’t afford to wait long hours just to do a certain task. They want it quick, and even when it comes to salvation, people designed a fast and easy way to be saved – just believe and you will be save. From the word longsuffering, a combination of the words long and suffering, we see that suffering is a part of Christian life, and from here, we understand that sufferings will not happen very shortly or just one time in our lives. Sufferings will be a part of our lives in the long run. If we overcome those sufferings and kept our faith through the help of God of course, then we will become victorious.
A lot of those many sufferings needs a lot of patience. Without patience, we can not afford to overcome them.
In some Bible concordance and dictionary, longsuffering was defined as the ability of a believer to endure and bear every suffering that happens to him. The element of waiting for such sufferings to pass without leaving the faith is the essence of longsuffering. Christians should learn to wait, to be patient, to endure everything, to bear anything that happens to their lives.
Why do we have to be patient?
Consider this, one of God’s greatest trait is being patient. He silently waits for us sinners to repent and come to Him. His patience gives us a lot of opportunity to straighten our path and walk according to His will. Love is patient, so does God.Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance? (Romans 2:4) And we all know that God’s longsuffering for us is salvation -2 Peter 3:15.
Christians are encourage to be patient while waiting the return of Christ, to fulfill His promised salvation. Christians must learn to be patient with one another, as a sign of love to one another, we bear each other’s weaknesses and shortcomings. There are more sufferings to come, the more sufferings we experience, the more patience we need. And the more patient we become, the more we please God who had been patient for all of us all these years.
People who never learned to be patient also lost their ability to treat others with kindness and respect. They only think of themselves on how to handle and finish things fast without having regards to other people. Unfortunately, many people are like this. They lost the character of being kind to people, but ironically became kind to animals.
Jesus is the ultimate role model for every one of us. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared. (Titus 3:4) He had shown us the kindness of dealings with other people especially to those who seek forgiveness from the Lord God. … to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe to those who disobeyed, but kind to you as you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22) Here, Paul explained that God can be both kind to us if we continue to trust and obey Him, but can also be harsh for people who disobeyed Him. Where do we stand?
Being kind is a sign of love and respect to others, which many Christians maintain to have a gracious relationships with other people. It comes from the goodness of the heart. If our hearts are good then it will be easily shown. It is shown by being serviceable or willing to help others, especially those who are in need. Christians have shown this by being ready to help at all times, taking thought of others and not only of themselves. It is also the ability to react nicely for those who are just testing our patience. The local inhabitants showed us extraordinary kindness, for they built a fire and welcomed us all because it had started to rain and was cold.(Acts 28:2)
Do we remember Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan? He wants to teach us that kindness of heart should be given not only to people we love or to our church members only. Love and kindness knows no limits. It must be shown to all people. This is the doctrine of the true church, to love not only those who loves us, but also those who hate us.
Where there is love, there is goodness. And God’s love for all people leads people to repentance and salvation. This God’s goodness is a trait that only His children can show. It comes automatically for those who receive and had faith in His words. This is the fruit of the Spirit that shows how God manifest Himself to us.
King David has seen God’s goodness in His life, which made him ask God to let him dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days, and I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life.(Psalm 23:6)
In other Bible translations, goodness and kindness are usually interchanged. It is also defined as the readiness to do good deeds, wherein we can find love in the actions. Christians show their goodness not only from what we can see (deeds), but also with those things that we can not see, such as the goodness inside the heart, the goodness and kindness when we speak and convey to our fellow believers and non-believers as well.
The goodness of a person is measured not on the happiest moments of his life. It is measured when we have the power to do good things and we eventually do it. We must never miss every opportunity to do good deeds, as we do all things not only for ourselves but we do it unto the Lord. Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.(Proverbs 3:27)
Do we remember God’s faithfulness to His people, Israel? From the time of Abraham, God remained faithful to them. His faithfulness to His people describes this trait that He wants us to have as Christians.
Faithfulness means the state of being honest and having one faithful relationship with someone, as to a wife or a husband, or boyfriend and girlfriend, and also can be applied to our relationship with God, our Father. Being faithful to God means having Him as the only God, to be worshiped and adored. This faithfulness to God also means being faithful to his Words, commandments and statutes.
Having a relationship with God means staying and holding fast to the Lord and staying faithful to Him for the rest of our lives. Why for the rest of our lives? Relationship with God is a lifetime relationship and commitment. This is why God hates divorce so much. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.(Malachi 2:16)
The people of Israel could not stay faithful and loyal to the almighty God. They became harlots and adulterers because they keep on chasing other gods. Although they know the commandments, they keep on breaking them. They can not stay with God.
Once we have kept being faithful with God, this will also keep us being faithful for anyone we have been committed with.
And if for example our relationship with someone will not be successful as we wanted it to be, this should not be a factor to loose our faithfulness to God. Thus, we continue to be dedicated with our relationship with God. The unchanging love of God that we feel while serving Him is enough to push us to remain faithful to Him.
There is one problem for being faithful in any relationship, and that is, our weaknesses as man. Man’s weaknesses are easily pulled to sin against any relationship. Today, many relationships have fallen apart because of infidelity. Infidelity happens when someone can not fight his/her own temptation.
And even with God, many people lost their faithfulness because of weaknesses. Some can easily put aside their faith to God in exchange of the tempting material things. Christians know their desires and wants. They do not concentrate much of the things that will hinder in having their chance to become part of God’s promised salvation. Having this kind of faith, they remain as faithful as ever despite of the many challenges of life.
Even in movies, telenovelas and television series, the main character usually possess a gentle character. God’s trait of being gentle in many ways allows us sinners to repent and come to Him for forgiveness. If God is not gentle, then maybe no one will be saved, and there will be no man in heaven. God is slow to anger, an attitude opposite against us people. We usually get angry even in little things, until it becomes a habit. “correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25)
As Christians, we deal with different kinds of people, and all of us have different attitudes and moods. We usually don’t agree with each other’s opinion that sometimes cause us to loose our temper and gentleness. When Jesus walked on this earth, He showed us the perfect example of gentleness. He handled different types of people and there were times He engaged with the Scribes and the Pharisees and set them straight through His sharp words, but He did it in gentle manner.
It is defined that gentleness means mildness combined with tenderness. It is an act of controlled strength, like Jesus did in His preaching. Gentleness is a character that is reasonable, equitable, forbearing, moderate, fair and considerate – it has passions under control and one who can control his spirit under control.
Apostle Paul asks the church members to be gentle with one another, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” ( Ephesians 4:2) This they will do not only to the faithful but to all people. “They must not slander anyone, but be peaceable, gentle, showing complete courtesy to all people.” (Titus 3:2)
There are many areas of our personality that need a lot of control. No one can control us except our selves and the spirit that is within us. If we loose our control, bad things may happen. How many people are endangered and much worst dead, because of other people’s lost of self control?
Loosing self-control is very dangerous. If one can not control his own mind and thinking, and someone is controlling him, maybe his own desires or wants, then he can be easily pulled to do something, or much worst, can commit such acts unworthy of the will of God. Christians should never loose their control of things in their lives. For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.(2 Titus 1:7) Notice, that we have the power of love and self-control. We can do powerful things when we have the love and self-control.
One of the things we need to control is the lust of our flesh. Our flesh always want something that always lead us to sin against God. It is always against the law of God. This is the reason why we need to learn to control our emotions, mind and thoughts, to be strong against the desires of the flesh. We certainly have the sinful nature inside us, and if we are not strong enough, we certainly loose the battle.
The Bible dictionaries defined self-control as having mastered personal desires and passions. It is a call for disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world but not following the ways of the world.
One of the things that can help us grow our control of our selves is the power of prayers. Jesus said to His disciples to continue in prayers, because the spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. To overcome the flesh, we are told to resolve it through prayers and meditations. For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer.(1 Peter 4:7)
Remember this, we are Christians; and Christians grow in faith, and through faith, we bear fruits of the Holy Spirit that is within us. If we say we have received the Holy Spirit, and is dwelling in us, then we must show it by manifesting its fruits, the power to love, the joy of serving God and fellowmen, the peace of heart and mind despite of many troubles of life, the courage and strength to hold on through long suffering, the kindness and goodness of God that allows us sinners to reconcile not only to Him but to our foes and enemies, the consistency of labor and hardships through faithfulness, thegentleness of heart that anyone can’t deny and the power of self-control through prayers and meditations.
We can achieve all things with these traits, we can overcome all evils, and we can give glory to our almighty God. Amen…