“Love is a grave mental illness.”
“The one who runs away from love is the greatest victor.”
“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.” -H. L. Mencken
Agapeo – “to love”, It comes from a root which means “to be satisfied;” it can mean “to prefer,” in the sense of esteeming one person more highly than another. In the Bible the word has no delusion or sentimentality attached to it. The love of God is not impulse, but will; it is not intoxication, but action. The Lord chooses to love us in Christ.
Agape love is sacrificial, a gift-love and has three distinctive elements:
These three elements are seen most clearly in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He understood our lost condition; He was concerned about it enough to be born in our likeness; He sacrificed His life to save us. Our love is to be characterized by the same three elements.
Agape love involves the will; it chooses to love the unlovable without concern about the cost or whether it will be reciprocated. It is a decision to love and is therefore distinguished from sentimentality.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Why is a passionate love for Jesus so vital if we are to have healthy, loving relationships with other people? (Read 1 John 4:7-12)
What obstacles in your life are hindering you from a single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ?
It has been said, “to love the world for me is no chore; my problem is the guy next door.” Agree? Why or why not?
Read Ephesians 4:29. Do you find it easier to speak words of encouragement and blessing to people or to criticize them? Explain.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. What are the eight things that love is not? What are the eight things love is?
These verses give us a picture of Jesus Christ. Reread vs. 4-8a as you substitute the Name “Jesus” for the word “love.”
Read Romans 5:5. What does this verse say about the source of our love and the power to love others?
Ask the Lord for a fresh understanding of His love, and pray for help to show forth this fruit of the Spirit in your life.
“Behind the perpetual smile of modern man lurks the grimace of despair.” —Reinhold Niebuhr
“The secret of joy is J O Y: Jesus, Others, You.” —Unknown
“Joy is the life in a man’s life.” —Benjamin Whichcote
“Joy is an emotion of keen or lively pleasure rising from present or expected good; great gladness; delight.” —Webster
chara – “rejoicing or merriness.” In the Old Testament, joy is not just inward. It has a cause and it finds expression. It is, therefore, meant for sharing. God and His saving acts are occasions and objects of joy. In the New Testament there is a strong expectation regarding the return of Christ linked to joy. There is a close link between Jesus and Joy (cf. John 15:11).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
- How does joy differ from happiness?
- Read James 1:2-12. Why should we rejoice when we face trials?
- Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Different things may interfere with our Joy. Why was Paul given a thorn in the flesh? Why did God refuse to remove that thorn?
- We usually want God to demonstrate His power by removing our weaknesses. Why is His power more perfectly revealed in the midst of our weaknesses?
- Some people want to believe that if there is a God, then there should not be suffering. Read Psalm 30.5 What does Scripture tell us about pain? Have you ever held onto this scripture during a time of trial? Or another?
- Read Psalm 119:9-16. How is the psalmist’s passion for God’s Word linked to his joy?
- Read Philippians 1:3-26. What reasons does Paul give for rejoicing, in spite of his circumstances?
- Name some other things that may take away our joy.
- Read John 15:11. Notice the “Jesus – Joy Connection.” Who is the source of our joy? How do we stay in touch with this source?
- Ask the Lord for a fresh experience of His joy, and pray for help to show forth this fruit of the Spirit in your life.
“Peace is that short interval of time when nations pay the costs of past and future wars.” “Peace is not a passive, but an active virtue.”
“Peace, dear nurse of the arts, plenties and joyful births.” Shakespeare
“Peace is our final good.” St Augustine
Eirene – does not primarily denote a relationship between persons, but a state of peace. In the Old Testament, the word “shalom” means well-being, wholeness, security, satisfaction, safety, prosperity – all the good things God can give you. Peace in an earthly, political sense is never fully realized. The Old Testament links peace with the expectation of eternal peace. In the New Testament there are four conceptions of peace: 1) a feeling of peace or rest; 2) peace as the final, eternal salvation of the whole person; 3) peace as a state of reconciliation with God; 4) peace with one another.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
- What things make you anxious or worried?
- Read Philippians 4:4-9. Consider what Paul means when he speaks of the “peace which transcends all understanding.” Note: the word Paul uses for “guard” is a military word referring to a sentry standing guard at his post.
- Read Matthew 6:25-34. What, specifically, does Jesus tell us not to worry about?
- Read Psalm 46. What images emerge in vs. 1-3? Life in the fast lane leaves little time to “be still” (v. 10). What does it mean to “be still” before the Lord?
- Read Psalm 91. How does the psalmist describe God’s protective care?
- Read Romans 12:17-21. How does our peace with God lead us to live at peace with others? What two qualifications (v. 18) does Paul attach to living at peace with everyone? Why are these qualifications important?
- Who is our peace according to Ephesians 2:11-22? Think of one way prejudice may still be a problem for you. Ask for the fruit of peace to overcome that prejudice.
- Discuss the following statement. “Peace is not a permanent possession of the Christian. Rather, it is experienced afresh with each new challenge of daily living.” Agree or disagree? Why?
- Read 2 Timothy 2.22. Who does this passage indicate will receive peace? What else is given that may bring peace?
- Isaiah 26:3 describes the peace of Heaven to come. Is there peace that may come in the same way today?
- God wants us to know peace. John 16:33 reminds us that Jesus was working to secure that peace. Is His word here, comforting to us today?
- Ask the Lord for a fresh experience of His peace, and pray for help to show forth this fruit of the Spirit in your life.
The Fruit of the Spirit is PATIENCE
The Blessing of Waiting
“Lord, give me patience; and give it to me NOW!”
“Patience is a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.”
“A case of not knowing what to do.”
“An infinite capacity for being bored.”
“Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.”
“The art of hoping.”
-Marquis de Vanvenargues
“Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.”
“Patience is faith waiting for a nibble.”
Makrothumia – in secular usage, this Greek word sometimes includes an element of resignation to an undesirable situation; it can also describe procrastination. It is used in a good sense to describe the patience of a physician in treating severe illnesses with only a small hope of a cure. In the Old Testament the patience of God is displayed in His forgiveness. The same theme is seen in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 18:23-35). God’s patience with us helps us to be patient (forgiving) with others. Patience is part of the Christian walk according to Colossians 1:11. James 5:7-11 shows that patience is oriented toward the return of Christ. This patience quenches anger and murmuring.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
- Take a patience self-inventory... At what times and in what circumstances to you tend to be impatient?
- After reading the following proverbs summarize the qualities of a patient person. Consider the questions specific to each proverb, also.
- Proverbs 16:32. How is a patient person better than a warrior?
- Proverbs 14:29 and 19:11. How does patience or a lack thereof reveal whether a person is wise or foolish?
- Proverbs 15:18 and 25:15. How does patience or impatience effect the impact of our speech?
- Look again at 16:32 and 25:15. What is the difference between patience and passiveness? Between patience and powerlessness?
Proverbs 15:18. How does patience/impatience affect our relationships?
What changes must you make in the way you act and think to become more patient?
- How is the return of Jesus Christ related to patience? Cf. James 5:7-12.
- Read Psalm 40:1-5. When have you had to wait for the Lord? (David waited patiently in v.1). What is the difference between waiting patiently and impatiently? What “slimy pits” have caused you to cry out to the Lord?
- Read James 1:19-27 for some practical application of this fruit of the Spirit to your life. Being slow to speak and slow to anger are important in the Christian’s life. How can “quick listening” slow us down and help to live righteously?
- What can you do to slow down the pace of your life (beyond the current circumstance we all face due to quarantines and lockdowns) so that you can properly listen to the Word of God?
- Ask the Lord for a full measure of patience and pray for help to show forth this fruit of the Spirit in your life.
“Kindness is a language which the dumb can speak and the deaf can understand.” C. N. Bovee “Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.” J. W. von Goethe “Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.” Joseph Joubert “Kindness does not operate well under the spotlight; it is fleeting and fast, shared with a smile, a word, a touch. Kindness is not rehearsed or premeditated; it happens because one has kindness to give, not because kindness is needed.” Eldon Weisheit “Kindness also produces tact – that is, the ability to smooth over awkward situations to say or do the thing that will ease a tense situation or avert an unpleasant scene. If courtesy is the everyday coin of kindness, then tact is the gold.” Eileen Guder
Chrestotes – in secular Greek this word is used to characterize persons who are honest, respectable, and worthy. It can also mean kindness, friendliness, or mildness. The Hebrew word for kindness in the Old Testament is “hesed,” which is translated “steadfast love,” “unfailing kindness,” “loving-kindness,” or simply “love,” or “kindness.” In most Old Testament passages, “hesed” refers to God’s kindly disposition or action toward us. Paul is the only New Testament writer to use “chrestotes;” in his writings it denoted God’s gracious attitude and action toward sinners. See Titus 3:4-7 as an example. Paul also uses the same word to refer to how the great experience of God’s kindness works itself out in our kindness to others. See Colossians 3:12 and 2 Corinthians 6:6.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
1. Read Psalm 103. According to verses 2-5, what kind and loving things has God done for us?
2. How is God’s loving-kindness revealed in the way He treats those who have sinned? Cf. Psalm 103:8-12.
3. Reflect on the ways God’s loving-kindness has been shown to you according to Psalm 103. In what specific ways could you imitate His kindness in your relationships with others?
4. Are you ever tempted to treat some people better than others? Who? Why? In what sense does Jesus’ statement in Mark 9:37 obliterate such distinctions?
5. How has the kindness of God been clearly expressed according to Ephesians 2:7 and Titus 3:4-7?
6. Why does the Lord’s kindness extend even to those outside the faith? See Romans 2:4.
7. The Lord tells us to put on kindness as His new creations in Colossians 3:12. How can the fruit of kindness influence others for Christ? See 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, especially verse 6.
8. For a classic example of kindness see the story of King David and Mephibosheth (son of Jonathan) in 2 Samuel For background on David and Jonathan’s relationship see 1 Samuel 18:1-4, 19:1-5, and 20:1-23. What motivated David to find Mephibosheth and show him kindness? 2 Samuel 9:3 may help you answer.
9. Ask the Lord to allow the fruit of kindness to grow freely within you.
“I’m the nicest guy that I know.” R. Wuebben “Nice guys always finish last.” Worldly wisdom “A good sermon is one that goes over your head and hits one of your neighbors.” “A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” Arthur Baer “Good is the worst enemy of the best.” English proverb “Good has two meanings: it means that which is good absolutely and that which is good for somebody.” Aristotle “Goodness is a special kind of truth and beauty. It is truth and beauty in human behavior.” Harry Overstreet “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” Henry David Thoreau “Goodness is the one and only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy.” Marshall Field “God’s interest in making Christians is not aesthetic, but utilitarian. He has not fashioned us objects of spiritual art. No, He has made us good for something. Our goodness is never an end in itself, but always a means for accomplishing God’s purposes through our lives.” Thomas Coates
Agathos – This word means excellent, fine, good. Applies to persons, it means the excellence of the person in his/her position. Applied to things, it signifies the good quality of the thing. The Old Testament applies the term “good” to God as a perfect being (1 Chronicles 16:34). God requires man to do what is good (Micah 6:8). In the New Testament, God is reiterated as good (Matthew 19:17). As Christians, we are created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). According to 1 Thessalonians 5:15, goodness is achieved in concrete personal relationships. “Agathosune” is the form of the word in Galatians 5:22; it indicated the quality a man has who is good – moral excellence as well as goodness. See Romans 15:l4, Ephesians 5:9, and 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
1. Think of a person you would describe as GOOD. What characterizes that person (internal qualities and external actions)?
2. Who is good according to Psalm 34:8?
3. Sin has destroyed our goodness. How has God solved the problem for us? See 1 Peter 3:21- 22.
4. In what other way does God convey His goodness to us? See 1 Peter 2:3.
5. What promise does Romans 8:28 offer us? What does Paul really mean here?
6. What encouragement does Paul offer us in Galatians 6:9-10? Why might we become weary? See 1 Thessalonians 3:7 for further application.
7. Does Paul’s statement in Romans 15:14 characterize you? How do Ephesians 5:8-9 and 2 Thessalonians 1:11 encourage you in this regard?
8. Ask the Lord to fill you with the fruit of goodness.
“Faithfulness is a dull, sleepy quality at best.” G. Farquhar “Faithfulness is that which can be relied upon, trusted or believed; truth to one’s word, promises, or vows; thoroughness in the performance of duty; loyalty or fidelity.” “I pledge you my faithfulness.” “Exchange rings as a pledge and token of your wedded love and faithfulness.” The Marriage Rite – Lutheran Agenda “It is as absurd to say that a man can’t love one woman all the time as it is to say that a violinist needs several violins to play the same piece of music.” De Balzac “There are two kinds of faithfulness in love: one arises from continually discovering in the loved person new subjects for love; the other arises from our making a merit of being faithful.” La Rochefoucauld
Pistis – This Greek word means confidence or trust in persons or things. The Old Testament term for faithfulness is ‘aman which is used to refer to both the faithfulness of God (Deuteronomy 7:9) and of human beings (e.g., Numbers 12:7 – Moses). In the New Testament pistis is usually translated faith or trust. In Romans 3:3 it is used of the faithfulness of God. Faithfulness in human relationships is referred to in Matthew 23:23 and Titus 2:10, and of course, in Galatians 5:22. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
1. Why is faithfulness an important quality in friendship? Consider a time when you shared a difficult experience with someone. How did it strengthen your friendship?
2. Does it cost you anything to be faithful to those you love? In what situations is it most important to “be there” for friends and family?
3. How is our relationship with the Lord characterized by faithfulness? See Hosea 2:19-20. What virtues and qualities does the word “betroth” suggest? In what areas of your life do you struggle to be faithful to God?
4. In what ways is the Lord faithful to you? See 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 1:9.
5. How does “faithfulness” describe the Lord Jesus Christ? See Hebrews 3:1-6 and Revelation 19:11.
6. How is “faithfulness” a trademark of the Christian life? See Titus 2:7-10. What promise does the Lord Jesus give to the faithful in Revelation 2:10b?
7. Honoring our commitments, while not always easy, is a sign of faithfulness. Malachi 2:10- 16 describes how Israel had broken her commitments. How have you been careless in keeping your commitments? What can you do to better honor those commitments?
8. How can faithfulness bless us as we exercise it? See Proverbs 3:3-4. How are love and faithfulness related?
9. Ask the Lord to cause the fruit of faithfulness to grow in all your relationships.
“Since the object of this verse is to exhibit the harmony between the fruit of the Spirit and the restraints of the law, those qualities only are specified which affect man’s duty to his neighbor.” Rev Frederic Rendall
“Paul does not say ‘works of the Spirit,’ as he had said ‘works of the flesh’; but he adorns these Christian virtues with a worthier title and calls them ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ For they bring very great benefits and fruit, because those who are equipped with them give glory to God and by these virtues invite others to the teaching and faith of Christ.” Dr. Martin Luther
“The term ‘fruit’ denotes qualities or states of mind, habits or feeling, more than concrete actions. ‘Fruit’ is often used in the N.T. to describe a product that is both pleasant and useful.” Rev. Gerhard Aho
“A bad tree cannot produce good fruit.” Dr. Luke (aka.St.Luke)
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
- Read Galatians 5:22-23 and especially note the last part of verse 23. Why is there no law against such things as mentioned in these verses? Discuss. Then read 1 Tim.1:9.
- If there is no law concerning these things and they are “fruit of the Spirit” and not our works, then there is no glory for us in showing them. Agree or disagree? (Gal.6:14)
- Why were all nine of these “fruits” described in the singular form, “fruit” in the text? Is there a unity to be understood here?
- Consider the reference concerning a tree and it’s fruit in Luke 6:43-44, and then also read John 15:2. How does pruning take place in our lives? How does it protect us? How does it help us to develop?
- Do you feel that there is a reason behind the order in which the fruit was listed by St. Paul?
- Which of this fruit do you feel that you possess more than others? Is there room for improvement, yes or no? How
- How do people “act out” this fruit but not really possess it? What is the benefit of such a lie, or should we ask what is the result and for whom?
- Which of this fruit do you see that your church possesses more of than others? Is there room for improvement, yes or no? How?
- Do you feel you have a better understanding of “the fruit of the Spirit”, now that you have studied it for ten weeks, than you did before this study? Explain.
- Ask the Lord to strengthen you in faith and by His Spirit to instill this fruit of the Spirit in your heart and life.
“Passions [to be distinguished from having passion, devotion or zeal for something, ed.] are like mountain streams; they allow no impediments; they cannot go backward; they must always go forward.” C.N. Bovee
“Passions are the mob which commits a riot on your reason.” William Penn
“Passions make good servants, but bad masters.” Sir Roger L’Estrange
“Self-control is the greatest of victories.” Plato
“Self-control is not really a virtue; it is only the effect of wisdom and rascality.” George Bernard Shaw
“The Holy Spirit takes the control of our ‘self’ away from Satan and restores it to God and to us. When our ‘self’ is controlled by the new life in Christ, God can count on us to be back in self-control again.” Eldon Weisheit
“Other hands – cold and clammy ones – fumble for the controls of the inner self and seek to disengage the hand of the Holy Spirit. Around Christian people are many for whom the swine are symbols of life. By and by, even some Christians could imagine that it is a marvelous thing to be a bit swinish.” Richard R. Caemmerer
“Self-control is never so needed as when we are right. When we are right we ought to ask God not to give us the victory, but to grant self-control – control over our arrogance, our pride, our very assurance of being right.” Eileen Guder
egkrateia – This Greek word refers to the dominion that one has over self or something in order to control it. The term is not used at all in the Gospels. It is surprising how small a role this word plays in the Bible. This may be due to the fact that the pagan Greek culture of Biblical times placed heavy emphasis on this concept, using it to refer to self-mastery. In contrast to this view, the believer sees his life as determined and directed by God’s Word, not by himself. Thus, the understatement of this concept in the Bible.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
What forces chip away at self-control in the life of the Christian?
- How is the person without self-control described in Proverbs 25:28? In what ways is the person without self control vulnerable?
- On a societal scale, of what is the lack of self-control a sign? See 2 Timothy 3:1-5. How should Christians respond to this sign? (Ephesians 5:11)
- Christians often lack self-control. Why? See Romans 7:15-25. How do the culture and the media influence our views on self-control and the need for it? What messages does the world send?
- Why is sexual self-control important according to 1 Corinthians 7:8-9? What “fall-out” is there from a lack of sexual self-control?
- How is self-control integral to the Christian life according to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27? What resources has the Lord provided us in order to attain and maintain self-control?
- What is the source of self-control according to 2 Timothy 1:6-7 and Galatians 5:22-23a? How does this encourage you?
- Reflect on specific areas in your life where you need greater self-control. Ask the Lord to build the fruit of self-control (Spirit-control) in these areas.