Fruit of the Spirit
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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” —Galatians 5:22, 23

THE FRUIT OF GENTLENESS

IT'S SURPRISING how much's revealed in these two verses of scripture which describe the attributes of the Christian faith. The manifestation of someone filled with the Spirit of God includes gentleness. This comes from the greek chrestotes (khray-stotace) and means, “excellence in character and demeanor; gentleness, kindness; mild in demeanor.” The mild in demeanor is interesting. I would also include this thought: “a willingness to be led by God.” It carries with it a thought opposite of stubbornness or rebellion.

JESUS, OUR EXAMPLE

Let's begin by looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. After all, when we explore the fruit of the Spirit, we're actually seeing the character of Christ manifested. He's our example. The Spirit and the Word agree. When we consider the fact that someone filled with the Spirit of God bears certain fruit, i.e. Galatians 5:22, 23, we're actually saying that an individual so filled will manifest the characteristics of Christ. This's very much the case when one considers the fruit of gentleness. The apostle proclaimed, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you” (II Corinthians 10:1).

I suppose there's some overlapping in the meekness and gentleness of Christ. But, meekness is a separate attribute with which we'll deal later. As for the gentleness of Christ, we want to explore the nature of Christ and in turn, the nature of His children.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Did you ever give thought to the reference of Christ as the Lamb of God? There's several correlations that could be made by the reference. First of all, the nature of lamb is gentle. It's true that He was the ultimate sacrifice and He's our Passover Lamb. But, why did God choose the lamb as a type of Christ? Why not a he-goat? Why not the fierce tiger or wolf? It wouldn't have pictured the nature of the Son of God! “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he's brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

He was gentle, therefore God chose the blood of the sacrificial lamb as a type of the blood Jesus shed for us. I Peter 1:18, 19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Also, the nature of a lamb is to be easily led. Jesus was led by the Spirit of God. Truly, He came not to do His own will, but rather the will of His Father (John 6:38). It is true that on one occasion Jesus took a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple area.

Some people misinterpret gentleness for weakness. A gentle nature can be stirred to anger by the rankness of evil. Those hypocrites need to be driven out! But, generally, Jesus Christ dealt with individuals in a gentle manner, because He was a gentleman, and gentleness is the natural manifestation of a godly individual.

King David associated gentleness to greatness. Psalms 18:35, “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

GENTLENESS IS A GREAT ATTRIBUTE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

Because Jesus Christ bore the fruit of gentleness, then every Spirit-filled child of God will do likewise. Yea, gentleness is the nature of a Christian, and we're taught in the Word of God to manifest such. Titus 3:1, 2, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.”

Again, we can be gentle and strong at the same time. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). It takes strength to be gentle in the face of opposition. Christians aren't to be self-willed, fierce-tempered, angry people with a chip on their shoulder. This's the necessity of understanding the fruit of the Spirit. Anyone can claim to be a Christian. Anyone can claim to be filled with the Spirit of God. But, where’s the fruit? This even goes to the basic principle of Christianity—walking in the light. James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Let's notice the connection made by the scripture between, gentle and easy to be entreated. This means the fruit of gentleness is partly manifested by a person when he's easy to be entreated. In other words, one shouldn't have the reputation of “spouting off,” or attacking back when a fault is brought to his attention. Christians are gentlemen and ladies. They genuinely desire to be right in the sight of God, and therefore appreciate correction when it's given in the right attitude. Are we easy to be entreated?

THE MINISTRY IS REQUIRED TO BE GENTLE

The fruit of gentleness is not only to be applied to the laity. Ministers are also called to bear this fruit! As the Apostle Paul bluntly said, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (I Thessalonians 2:7).

Oh, there's a great need of this message! The minister's to speak the truth, but as Paul put it in Ephesians 4:15, “But speaking the truth in love ...”

How many a sincere Christian's been driven off by harsh, cruel, unkind treatment by the “man of God”! Again we read from God’s holy Word, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (II Timothy 2:24).

Part of my burden in writing this, is to bring to the forefront principles that are often overlooked. Again, for about the third time I say, gentleness isn't a sign of weakness, but strength. Gentle unto all men. Some are so busy “taking their stand,” they blast others cruelly in a spirit unlike Christ, determined to bury any chance of reconciliation. Ministers can be right in their position and wrong in their attitude. We have a sacred trust as a ministry of reconciliation. II Corinthians 5:18, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” Reconciliation's more often gained through gentleness than through harshness. O that gentleness be manifested! Galatians 5:15, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

GENTLENESS EXEMPLIFIED BY SHEEP

Gentleness is the nature of sheep which contrasts greatly with the nature of the goat. Many professed Christians have the goat nature. Notice the difference: In Palestine flocks of sheep and herds of goats are plentiful. They dot the countryside, clutter up highways, crowd the streets of towns and villages. Sheep have shepherds and goats have goatherds. The shepherd with his long staff walks in front of his flock and his sheep follow him. In fact, they crowd around so closely they hamper the shepherd’s movement. On the other hand, the goatherd carries a short stick and walks behind his herd to keep his goats together and moving in the right direction. He has his hands full. Goats are individualists, impulsive and self-willed. They dart off in all directions on personal missions of their own. Sheep-calling contests are common in Palestine. Several flocks are placed in an enclosure and mixed together. Then shepherds whistle a distinctive tune; some call or shout in a peculiar manner. Some shepherds use a pipe with a particular pitch. Each shepherd’s signal is understood by his own sheep and they respond immediately. They make their way through the crowded enclosure to where their shepherd is waiting. The shepherd who collects a given number of sheep in the shortest time is the winner of the contest. When Jesus mentioned sheep and goats in contrast he knew whereof he spoke. There's a difference, not only in appearance but in nature and behavior. Goats are not responsive to leadership. They have to be driven. Sheep know their shepherd’s voice and follow him. —From the Bible Illustrator

CHRIST, THE SHEPHERD OF SHEEP

Jesus said in John 10:26, 27, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Christ will never force anyone to follow Him. But those who've been filled with the Spirit have received the gentle nature and will follow Him. If we refuse to follow Christ, we'll never make heaven. The Psalmist said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters ...” (Psalm 23:1-3).

He's the great Shepherd of the sheep. But, those who follow Him are willing to be led. I'm still talking about the fruit of gentleness. We dare not fight against God. We dare not determine to have our own way. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” So then in plain words, if we refuse to be led by the Spirit we can't be a child of God. If we refuse to follow the Shepherd, we're not manifesting the fruit of gentleness.

WE ARE SHEEP AMONG WOLVES

Matthew 10:16,
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

The world seems to be drowning in a spirit of “dog eat dog.” In our generation, nominal Christianity has watered down what it means to be a Christian to the point that a true Christian is considered a fanatic. A spirit of gentleness will stand out in today’s fierce environment. Secular powers press the Christian; Islamic powers press the Christian; even professed Christendom will persecute the true Christian. Romans 8:36, 37, “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” It takes grace to stand for Christ. It takes the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to manifest gentleness in the hostile world we live in.

THE SEPARATION AT THE LAST DAY

The Bible tells us that on the Day of Judgment there'll be a great separation made. Matthew 25:32, 33, “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” The sheep (the gentle) will hear, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But the goats (the stubborn and rebellious) will be told, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Which side will we be on? If perchance we've wandered from the fold, there's hope in God, for there's pardon. If we've let the spirit of this present world cause us to become hard, cruel, disillusioned, selfish, let's hear the words of the great Shepherd,
“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray” (Matthew 18:12, 13).

Let's not minimize the power of gentleness. Let's not fall into the trap of the enemy to become like the world. Let's not justify yourselves in a backslidden condition. Let's yield to Him today, and begin to bear the fruit of gentleness. “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (I Peter 2:25).

THE FRUIT OF GOODNESS

GOODNESS AND righteousness is mocked by modern religious teachers in today’s world. In spite of the efforts to devalue the standard of the professing Christian’s life, it's plain to see through the Bible that God’s standard is holiness. This word goodness is translated from the original greek word agathosune (ag-ath-o-soo-nay), and it means, “goodness; virtue; righteousness.” So then, it's very reasonable to interchange the words goodness and righteousness as fruit of the Spirit for this's the meaning in the verse.

By the Apostle Paul making the statement that righteousness is an essential part to the fruit of the Spirit, an irreparable hole is punctured in any doctrine justifying sin in the life of the Spirit-filled Christian. The Hebrew writer penned,

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (14:12).

So then, the subject we have before us is very pertinent to the religious discussion of the day. Is holiness required to see the Lord? Is righteousness obtainable by mortal man? Is goodness part of the fruit of the Spirit? The answer to all three questions is a resounding, Yes! Some one has said, “A musician is commended, not that he played so long, but that he played so well. And thus it's not the days of our lives, but the goodness of our life; not the length of our prayers, but the fervency of our prayers; not the measure of our profession, but the sincerity of our profession—that's acceptable unto God.”

NONE OF US IS “GOOD” IN HIS OWN RIGHT

The first thing we need to understand is that none of us is good in his own right. The prophet said long ago, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

This is so true. There's unreachable souls who believe that by their own good works they can obtain heaven. Nothing's further from the truth. Paul said in Romans 3:23,

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” It's impossible to live without sin in one’s own strength or power. Man is morally flawed by Adam’s transgression. Sin will overwhelm the carnal man. But, there's a remedy! Though all have sinned, there's pardon and power in the gospel of Christ. II Corinthians 5:17,
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” But remember, without Christ man's powerless, sin's in control, and a few righteous acts are as filthy rags in God’s sight. In order to bear fruit, we must acknowledge our own unworthiness and our total dependency on God. Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Whenever anyone advocates righteousness, there's a chorus of scoffers quoting Romans 3:10,
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” But, to whom does this refer? Does it refer to the Holy Ghost filled child of God? Of course not. Paul wasn't advocating that sin and ungodliness was to continue after the born-again experience. In fact, he said, “As it is written.” He was quoting Psalms 14. And, of what or of whom was the Psalmist speaking?

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”

Is it not plain to see that he was speaking of “none that doeth good” among the fools who said there's no God, among all the workers of iniquity? The Word of God speaks in this very same Psalm, “For God is in the generation of the righteous.” If there is none righteous, who is the generation of the righteous? Let's not be deceived. There's none righteous among those without Christ as Savior and Lord. And among those who have received Christ in His fullness, there's none defiled by sin. I John 3:10,

“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

ONLY BY GOD’S GRACE CAN WE BE SAVED

Titus 2:11, 12,
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” How's it possible to live soberly, righteously and godly in this old wicked world? By receiving that grace of God! We can’t transfer from sin and ungodliness to goodness in our own strength and power. It's plain to see in the foregoing scripture that God requires righteousness. What the Lord requires He gives power to fulfill. The only way to receive that power is by yielding to Him.

Titus 3:5,
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

When we meet the humble conditions and believe our sins are washed away, we're made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:10,

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” We said that the carnal man’s righteousness is as filthy rags, but there's a remedy by which goodness in God’s sight can be attained. Romans 5:17, 18,

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Through faith we're made righteous, godly, and clear in the sight of God.

RIGHTEOUS LIVING REQUIRED

But, then what? Must one return to a life of sin? Does he have no power to resist temptation? Is he doomed to ever be in bondage to the power of Satan? Or, is there a change not only in relief from condemnation of past sins, but also a reception of power to change future conduct? Ephesians 4:24,

"And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” A new person's created in salvation! I Corinthians 15:34,

“Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” Doesn't modern man realize that sin separates from God? From the Master’s own mouth comes an undeniable declaration, Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Look at that verse! Does it not forever clarify the need of bearing the fruit of goodness? There's so much deception in the religious world! Listen to the Word of God, ye who scoff at righteousness. I John 3:7, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”

THE FRUIT OF GOODNESS IS BORNE BY:

(1) RESISTING UNRIGHTEOUSNESS

Romans 6:13,
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” By yielding to temptation you bear the fruit of evil. By resisting temptation you bear the fruit of goodness.

Romans 6:16,
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Verses 18-20,

“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” The scriptures say it better than I ever could!

(2) FOLLOWING JESUS AND DOING RIGHT

I Peter 2:21, 22,
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” When you follow Jesus’ example you are bearing the fruit of goodness. As Jesus was, so are we, and that is good. When we love our fellow man, even our enemies, that is walking in His steps and that is good.

(3) STRIVING FOR HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS

The fruit of goodness or righteousness is borne by striving for it. This's one of the crimes of “sin-you-must” teaching. People are taught they can't keep from doing wrong, so they're never challenged to strive for the righteousness of being led by the Spirit. Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Seek first His righteousness.

Matthew 5:6,
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” The reason so many professors don’t live any better than they do is because they never hunger and thirst for righteousness.

(4) GROWING IN GRACE

II Peter 3:18,
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Bearing forth the fruit of goodness does not mean that one will never make a mistake. I am not talking about knowingly and willingly transgressing God’s law which brings spiritual death. But, it is a fact that every Christian is a work in progress. This means we have learning and growing to do. This is good. Hebrews 12:11,

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” When we make wrong judgments or are careless, the Lord chastises us. As we learn from our mistakes, we bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness or goodness. We see then that bearing the fruit of goodness very much involves our attitude and our will.
Romans 15:14,

“And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.”

Someone has said, “The Scriptures often exhort us to be filled with various godly virtues—which means what? How do we know if we're ‘full of goodness,’ Romans 15:14, for example? Think a moment about a water-saturated sponge. If we push down with our finger even slightly, water runs out onto the table. We immediately know what fills the interior pockets of the sponge. The same is true of ourselves. We can tell what fills us on the inside by what comes out under pressure.” Let me close by appealing to one and all of us to bear forth the beautiful fruit of goodness, letting Christ’s light shine through us each and every day we live.



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