The second facet of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. Paul said,
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom 14:17).
We must remember, however, that these qualities are the fruit of the Spirit and are, therefore, traits of character that are beyond the realization of man by his own efforts. In fact, Jesus, in speaking to His disciples concerning the vine and the branches, makes it clear that it is His joy that they share:
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).
His joy is everlasting, a "joy that no man taketh from you" (John 16:22). In teaching them about the new relationship they will have with the Father through His name, Jesus said:
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:24).
In His prayer He reminds the Father that He is coming back to Him and has spoken to His disciples in order that "they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves" (John 17:13). His joy was the inner strength that sustained Him on the cross, as the writer of the Hebrew letter shares with us:
Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2).
David was caught up by the Spirit and prophesied how the hope of joy was the power that sustained Christ as he endured His sufferings,
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalms 16:10-11).
Peter, James, and John all caught the vision of this joy. James exhorts,
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations...that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).
Peter echoes the same idea as he encourages the church scattered abroad through persecution to remember that the
Trial of your faith... might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love...yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:6-8).
John says that he is writing to his fellow Christians about what he had seen and heard "that your joy may be full" (I John 1:1-4).
This joy of the Lord produced in our hearts by the Spirit enables us to fulfill the prophetic admonitions found in the scriptures:
Rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 3:1);
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Phil. 4:4);
Rejoice evermore....In everything give thanks
(I Thess 5:16-18).
Joy is the ability to rejoice and be content in whatsoever state you find yourself, to be able to cope with all of life's situations and problems. When the Christians were persecuted, what did they do? They rejoiced. When the Christians were beaten, what did they do? They rejoiced. When the Christians were put in jail, what did they do? They rejoiced. When the Christians were told not to preach, what did they do? They rejoiced. Everything was a cause for joy. How can you defeat people like that? Neither the devil nor the cares of life can ever defeat a person as long as that person rejoices in the Lord. In whatsoever situation you find yourself, the Spirit will enable you to give thanks, rejoice, and to express the joy of the Lord.
Peace is harmony or wholeness. Real peace is being in harmony with God, in harmony with yourself, and in harmony with your fellow man. That is real peace. There are two scriptures that speak of this peace:
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
And let the peace of God rule [act as umpire] in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful (Col. 3:15).
Paul admonishes the Christian to allow the peace of God to act as a garrison, as an armed force, around about his heart. You have to allow peace to guard the heart and the mind by determining what thoughts are allowed to come into the heart through the mind and also by guarding what goes out of the heart. You should not let any thought find lodging in your heart that destroys the harmony of your life or distresses your mind; neither should you allow any word to proceed out of your mouth that destroys your harmony with your brother or causes discord among the brethren. You need to allow the peace of God to guard your heart so that harmony is preserved. By your words you can create strife among people, or by your words you can create peace. What you let in your mind and heart can distress you and cause you to become agitated, upset, disturbed, and anxious. Or, you can refuse to accept those thoughts--"bring them into obedience to the captivity of Christ"--and let the peace of God keep you. You need to be at harmony with God. You need to be at harmony with your fellow Christian. You need to be at harmony with yourself. The peace of God will keep you. Remember, from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. You need to bring anything that would upset you or destroy that peace under subjection, or you will speak the agitation and distress of your heart causing strife and hurt to others.
In the second scripture, Paul uses the image of an umpire--the one who makes the decisions concerning how the game is played. He says you must let the peace of God decide all matters of the heart, how the game of life is played. Everything must be brought under subjection to that peace--every thought, every word, every deed. You must remember that the peace of which he speaks is not the peace you find in the world, but the peace which passeth understanding, the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said,
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).
My peace I give to you. You have the peace of God that passeth all understanding. The peace of God will rule and guard your heart. Jesus has given us this peace. Again He said,
These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
My peace I leave with you. In this world you shall have tribulation. The Greek word for tribulation is thlipsis. It means pressure. In this world we are going to have all kinds of pressures. When we think of tribulation, we think of being persecuted by people; however, Jesus said that in this world we will have plain old pressure--social, economic, spiritual, physical, or mental. However, in the midst of the pressure, Jesus said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," and "My peace I leave with you."
If you get too much pressure on the outside, you cave in, you become depressed. If you get too much pressure on the inside, you blow up, you explode, you get angry. Many spend all of their time either blowing up or caving in. They are too high, or they are too low. The Holy Spirit equalizes the pressures. He enables you to have harmony and peace. He helps you to maintain an equilibrium in your Christian walk. You do not have to be too high; you do not have to be too low; you can live a consistent life with the peace and the harmony of God in your heart.
There are two words that express the concept of patience in the New Testament: 1) Makrothumia (great temper)--patience with regards to persons, and 2) Hupomone (to abide under)--patience with regard to things. We need both kinds of longsuffering--patience with people who irritate and provoke us, and patience in the annoying circumstances of life. The word used here by the Apostle Paul is makrothumia, patience with regard to persons. Sometimes we think we just can not live under certain conditions. We cannot tolerate people or circumstances that are making our lives unbearable. The Apostle Paul found himself in such a situation and he prayed three times that God would alter, or ameliorate, the conditions in which he found himself day by day:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (II Cor. 12:7-9).
Three times he prayed, and he told God that he could not live under those conditions. His cry was, "God I can't take it anymore. The scourgings, the afflictions, the distresses, the reproaches, the persecutions, the imprisonments, the stonings, and the care of all the churches are more than I can bear." But in all three prayers, God gave him only one answer, "My grace is sufficient for thee." That was God's answer. God did not say that He would take the thorn away. God did not say He would make it any easier. He just said, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Therefore, by the grace of God, Paul could, with patience, endure the thorn in the flesh, the buffeting of the messenger of Satan. There is only one reason for failure in the Christian experience. The failure is not caused by conditions or circumstances. We fail because we do not appropriate the grace of God. God's grace has provided whatever we need to live in any condition and under any circumstances with joy and thanksgiving.
There is a powerful little scripture tucked away in one of Paul's greetings:
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household (Phil. 4:22).
The saints in Caesar's house salute you. Isn't that great? The saints in Caesar's house salute you. Caesar, Nero, was very cruel--torturing, murdering, and destroying every Christian he could find. But in his palace, handing him his cup every day was a Christian; making his bed was a Christian; waiting on his table was a Christian. Caesar desired to destroy them, but they were right in his house. You can serve God in any place under any condition. While Caesar was ordering his soldiers to kill every Christian they could find, the Christians were living in his palace. If people can live for God in Caesar's house, they can live for God anywhere. Longsuffering, then, is being patient, is being able to endure, is being able to live life joyfully and victoriously in every situation.
Gentleness and goodness are companion words. Gentleness is goodness in action. Gentleness, or kindness, is goodness in action. Paul believes the gentleness or kindness of God is the foundation of our salvation,
That in ages to come he [God] might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness
toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).
God reveals His goodness through the acts of kindness bestowed upon us in Christ. You may perform many acts of goodness, but you need to perform them with gentleness. Be gentle. God's children ought to be gentle people, gentle men and gentle women, with good manners and respect one for another. Gentleness is goodness in action.
One of my favorite Bible illustrations of gentleness is from the experience of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 38:1-13). The prophet had been cast into the dungeon and was sunk down into the mud. Imagine: Jeremiah, the prophet of God, in a dungeon, waist deep in the mud. A servant of Zedekiah, the king, told the king of Jeremiah's situation and the king told him to get the prophet out of the dungeon before he died. Now, that was an act of goodness on the part of the king. To get the preacher out of the mud and out of prison was a good deed. On the way to the dungeon, the servant stopped under the king's treasury and found some old cast clouts (old pieces of leather or cloth), and old rotten rags, and a rope. At the dungeon he saw the prophet in the mud and he threw him the rope, the clouts, and the rags. Jeremiah put the rags and pieces of leather around him, under the rope. When the servant pulled him out, the rope wouldn't hurt him. The rope was goodness; the rags were gentleness. We like to help people, but sometimes we are not very gentle. Sometimes we think people ought to hurt a little when we help them out of the mess they are in. We think, "You got yourself in this mess, and I am going to help you get out; however, you need to hurt a little so you will remember it." However, if the gentleness of Christ flows through us, we will not want to hurt them.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault [down in the mud], ye which are spiritual, restore [throw him a rope and some clouts] such an one in the spirit of meekness [gentleness]; considering thyself, lest thou also are tempted [you are the next one who falls in the mud and someone pulls you out without any rags] (Gal. 6:1).
Be gentle in your dealings one with another. You do not have to be rude. You can be gentle when you deal with God's children. When you see your brother in a fault, be gentle with him. Be kind.
The moral quality of goodness is the fruit of the Spirit that prompts us to do good deeds, while gentleness is the way we do them. Paul prayed that
God would...fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness (II Thess. 1:11).
in the lives of the Thessalonians. God takes pleasure in bestowing the benefits of His goodness upon His children. As we mirror the image of Christ, we will reflect that goodness toward others. In fact, Paul said that the
Fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness [agathosune] and righteousness and truth...proving what is acceptable unto the Lord (Eph. 5:9-10).
Fruit is produced in goodness, as Jesus said, "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit" (Matt. 7:17). It is interesting that there are very few individuals in the scriptures of whom it is said that he was a good man. One of these was Barnabas. When the church heard that a revival had broken out in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to the city. Luke records of Barnabas that
He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people were added unto the Lord (Acts 11:24).
The next quality Paul discusses is faith. Paul speaks of faith as a fruit of the Spirit and faith as a gift of the Spirit. God is so concerned about our having faith that He does not leave it to chance, but He gives us different ways to obtain faith. Faith as a fruit is faith in process. Because it is a fruit of the Spirit, it is produced by the Spirit. Paul tells us that this "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). As I hear the word of God and act upon the word of God, faith comes into my heart and begins to mature until, finally, I have a knowing, a witness, and I receive what I ask of God. This is the fruit of faith, a faith that comes, grows, matures, and brings to fruition my desire.
Faith, as a gift, does not grow. The Spirit drops it in your heart, fully mature. You may be driving down the street, not thinking of anything in particular, and all of a sudden, the Spirit drops faith in your heart for a need. It does not grow. You might not even be thinking about God, but suddenly faith drops in your heart. The end result is the same as with faith as a fruit; however, one is process and one is an event.
It is very difficult to distinguish between faith and working of miracles. A definition that may help is that faith is the ability to receive things from God, and working of miracles is the ability to do things for God. Faith is the ability to receive things from God. Working of miracles is the ability to do things for God. Faith is a knowing, a conviction based on hearing the Word. Either way, whether fruit or gift, faith comes. Whether it is a gift of the Spirit which God just drops in your heart, or whether, as you act upon the word, faith comes. Faith comes.
The author of Hebrews wrote,
But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that
he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6).
Since faith is necessary, the Spirit gives you two ways of receiving it. One is through a process of living in union with Jesus Christ,
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you [faith comes], ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:7).
The other is by a sovereign act of the Spirit implanting faith in your heart as a gift. The Spirit gives you a knowing that God has done what you need to have done (see discussion of faith as a gift under Gifts of the Spirit).
Meekness is a tempered spirit, a spirit yielded to God. Meekness is a fruit of power, yet it is the opposite of self-assertiveness. A meek individual knows who he is, is confident in his relationship with God; therefore, he does not have to assert himself. Meekness is not weakness, because Moses, the meekest man on the face of the earth, was a man of decision and courage. He made decisions. He had courage. He spoke with authority. He knew who he was, was confident in his ability, and acted upon that knowledge.
As Paul was discussing his desire to visit the Corinthian Church, he referred to those who were "puffed up" because he had not visited them. He asks them in what manner would they like for him to come:
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness (I Cor. 4:1721),
Paul was a meek person, yet he was tough when clothed with the power of God. He was willing to use whatever measures were necessary to further the kingdom of God: the rod of chastisement or the spirit of love and humility. "For the Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (I Cor.4:20), and meekness is a fruit of power. It is a gentleness that comes from strength, power clothed with humility.
Temperance, self-control, is the proper use of one's abilities, by keeping the power of the will under the guidance of the Spirit. Temperance is to have control over. The word comes from kratos--force, strength, or power. Temperance is power. The wise man said,
...he that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32).
It is easier to control a city than it is to control yourself. Temperance is the ability to exercise self-control.
Paul uses imagery from the world of athletics to illustrate the necessity of temperance in the Christian life. He says,
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Cor. 9:24-27).
The keeping of the training rules to the Greek athlete was just as important as winning the prize. In an early recorded prayer, an athlete asked his god to let him win the prize, if he had kept the rules and had trained properly. Paul affirms this idea, "lest...when I have preached [taught the rules] to others, I myself should be a castaway [disqualified--not allowed to compete or, having won, be declared ineligible]."
In the above passage, Paul emphasizes the fact that everything that he did was to qualify for the prize: he did not run uncertainly--just to be running; he did not "beat the air," or "shadow box," but he made every blow count; and he "kept under his body," literally "beat his body black and blue" to keep it under subjection lest he yield to its desires and be disqualified. He exercised self-control.
These, then, are the nine facets of the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the character or the nature of Jesus Christ being reproduced in me and finding expression through me by the Holy Spirit.
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