By Charles Wages
(Originally published in the May 11, 1961 issue of the Timely Messenger.)
The fruit of the Spirit is found in the book of Galatians, the 5th chapter:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
This fruit consists of nine Christian graces. Let us examine them and see if we are manifesting them in our lives for the Lord.
First, we see love, an attribute of God that is given to us by the Spirit. The 5th chapter of Romans tells us that, “Hope maketh not ashamed: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which to given to us” (Rom. 5:5). Truly it is the indwelling Spirit who can manifest this love in our lives. Love is a very compelling force and we must have its compelling influence if we are to live and work for the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. We know that we cannot minister to the needs of sinners or saints if we do not love them with a God-given love from above. The Lord gave Himself a ransom for the sins of the whole world, loving even the vilest person and willingly laying down His precious life for them. How much more then should we show forth that love and have a compassion for lost souls and careless Christians.
Next in order is joy. You know, friends, that joy is that inward state of being that only a person trusting fully in the Saviour knows anything about. The Apostle Peter even says that it is unspeakable or past description by words. “Whom having not seen, ye love: in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). The Lord desires that we should be happy and full of joy. Well, why not? Don’t we have that blessed hope within us that one day we will pass from this troublesome life into the wonderful and full life with the God of glory? Look up, dear Christian friends, and be joyful.
Then comes peace. Our nation and the world at large is seeking in vain for peace, even to the extent that their peace efforts are causing more strife and ill feeling; yet, real peace is within the very reach of everyone that sincerely desires to have it. Yes, it is the peace of God that passeth all understanding that we read about in Philippians 4:7. We like to retire to a peaceful spot and relax from the cares of this world. We also enjoy the company of a calm, reserved and peaceful personality. It rests our minds and spirits to indulge in these things, but, friends, let us revel continually in the peace that the Lord gave to us when we first trusted Him as our personal Saviour.
Longsuffering is another aspect of the fruit of the Spirit that lives within us. I am persuaded that none of us are longsuffering enough toward our fellow man. I marvel, sometimes, at the way God puts up with some who are so bitter against Him. Yet, we must realize that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9); He loves poor, lost and benighted souls with a heaven-born love that we cannot understand. We should be longsuffering too, slow to anger, patient and loving toward men who are ignorantly or knowingly treading the highway to hell.
Gentleness speaks of good breeding or well-born. We did not inherit this by our first or natural birth, but it comes to us by the new birth. Everyone that is saved today has been raised into a newness of life by the birth that the Lord spoke about to Nicodemus in the 3rd chapter of John. One of the things we received by this second birth was gentleness of character. We are admonished to exercise this gentleness in 2 Timothy 2:24: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” A person who is gentle of character and kind in every respect is one who can present the plan of salvation to the lost and the Word of truth to believers in the right manner.
Goodness, as spoken of in the Word of God, does not mean that moral qualification that even some unsaved people possess, but rather the Spirit of God being manifest by our good works. The good Samaritan is an example of real goodness. He didn’t just feel sorry for the poor fallen brother, but went unto him and cared for his wounds and then provided for his future needs as well. Our Lord came down from heaven’s glory to bind the wounds of our sins, and then went back to glory to prepare us a place for the future; therefore, He desires us to show forth this same goodness to others.
Another aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is faith or faithfulness. Did you know that saved people of this dispensation are required to be found faithful stewards of the mystery, giving forth the message that Paul outlines in the 3rd chapter of Ephesians? There are not many people today that stand faithful for this blessed truth because it would strip them of their religious traditions and customs that have so long been their means of support and work. I firmly believe that faithfulness is one of the greatest things a man can possess. Not faithfulness to man, but faithfulness to God and to the principles of the Christian life. There are not many faithful men left in the world today, and there are not many faithful men spoken of in the Bible, but this does not alter the fact that it is one of the graces that comprise the fruit of the Spirit and is a definite requirement of our Heavenly Father.
Meekness pictures humbleness. You remember that in His sermon on the mount, Christ said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). He was prophesying of a yet future time in the kingdom; nevertheless, meekness shall always be rewarded. A person can be meek and humble, yet have boldness to speak for the things of God. Paul said, in Ephesians 3, verse 12, “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.” We can face man and the world with all boldness and courage, giving forth the testimony of our conscience; yet remaining meek and humble in spirit.
The last aspect is temperance. The rank and file think of this as meaning moderation in our habits and indulgences. The Lord would have us to be temperate in all things, meaning to be sober and burdened for lost souls. Temperance is fully explained and the reason for our using it is found in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because you adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Yes, let us be sober, watchful and temperate, indulging wholeheartedly in the things pertaining to spirituality and soundness in the faith.
In summing up this lesson, we have seen that the fruit of the Spirit consists of nine graces that a child of God is privileged to enjoy. Everyone that has been born again into the family of God has been given these things. The difference lies in the use we make of these things so freely given to us of the Lord.
Christian friends, if we will only yield ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, to our Master, we can be a living example of the things outlined in this lesson, helping the unsaved to see Christ in us, and at the same time, enjoying a peaceful and complete life in our Saviour. If you have never accepted the Lord who gives these things through the Spirit, I ask you, first to let the Lord come into your life and save your soul. Then, and not until then, you will be able to enjoy and manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
It must be admitted that very few professing Christians today live as God would have them, manifesting all the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, but what a blessed privilege it is to see the ones who do. If we all would surrender completely to the Lord, grieving not the Holy Spirit that lives within us, we could enjoy more fully our salvation and fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Have we been stumbling blocks in the path of some lost soul or wandering Christian? I am persuaded that if we would let the Spirit have complete sway in our lives, we could be a complete and beautiful picture of what God wants us to be. How many of these graces are you exercising in your life for Christ? Read them, study them, then examine your hearts to see how your life squares with these things God has given us through the Spirit.