Galatians 5:22, 23
Those who study health habits say fruit is a very important part of our diet. Fruit is important mainly for the vitamins and minerals they contain. The acids they contain also help the digestive process. Fruits can be eaten in many ways. We eat some fruits fresh, others canned, some dried, and still others frozen. The juice from fruits can also be bought frozen or canned.
My grandfather once bought a blooming peach tree, but to his surprise it bore peaches. He also had an apple tree that bore five different kinds of apples.
Fruit is important in the Christian’s life. Fruit provides proof we belong to God. We have already considered the fruit of love, joy, and peace. Now we want to continue looking at things that should characterize God’s people.
We Should Produce Patience
Patience involves being tolerant and longsuffering when others wrong us. It is a calm willingness to accept painful and irritating situations. The word comes from a Greek word that means steadfastness under provocation. Patience allows us to endure ill-treatment from others without wanting to retaliate or take revenge. Patience is dealing with others in a kind and compassionate manner and judging the faults of others with understanding instead of criticism.
Since God is slow to anger, we should be also. Paul wrote, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
Patience includes perseverance where the Lord’s work is concerned. Doing God’s work is fulfilling and rewarding, but we can get weary and disgusted. The work itself is not the problem. It is the way many respond to our efforts. Others are not always willing to accept our testimony. Though we want them to respond to the salvation message, they choose not to. We can also feel frustration when trying to motivate cold and indifferent church members. Patience is the ability to withstand all of this and, at the same time, maintain a sense of optimism. We must remember God is in control, not us.
Like the other gifts, God is the source. Paul said, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
God proclaimed himself patient. When Moses saw the disobedience of the people while he was on the mountain receiving the commandments of God, Moses threw the tablets down and broke them. God instructed Moses to go up the mountain again and receive new tablets. As the Lord passed before Moses, he proclaimed these words, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).
God exercised patience as he dealt with the children of Israel. Their pattern was much like ours. They fluctuated between commitment and disobedience. God sent punishment for their disobedience. They would repent and stay faithful for a while, but before long their pattern would begin again. God would patiently deal with them through their many failures, even as he does us.
Jesus showed patience. The majority of people doubted his identity. He was ridiculed and tested on many occasions by those who doubted his authenticity. He was falsely accused and put to death on a cross. He showed patience through the testing, suffering, pain, and agony. Isaiah said of the coming Messiah, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted. Yet he opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
Patience is a result of testing and trials. James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2). We should welcome the troubling times because we know they will result in patience.
Job is another example of one who had patience. He lost his property, children, and health. His friends ridiculed and rebuked him. In all of this, he was patient, and God rewarded him greatly for his patience. Paul wrote, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).
Joseph also gives us an example of patience. He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused by Potiphar, and thrown into prison. God rewarded his patience by having Pharaoh promote him to ruler over all the land of Egypt.
God is patient with us today. He is patient with sinners as he calls them to repentance. He is patient with his children who often fail him. Because of his patience with us, we need to extend the same patience to others even when they treat us wrongly. We need patience when we’re wronged as well as patience with others.
We Must Produce Kindness
To show kindness is to show a tender compassion and concern for other people. It is the genuine desire to treat others as the Lord treats us. Jesus is our example. When his disciples tried to forbid the people from bringing children to Jesus, he rebuked them and allowed the children to come. Jesus invited the weary and heavy-laden to come to him for rest.
Paul said, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone” (2 Timothy 2:24). Like the other fruits, this one also finds its source in God.
The word for kindness is taken from a Greek word that refers to a kindness that pervades and penetrates the whole nature of a person. Kindness even when others are not showing it to us. Kindness that has a heart that weeps over sin and sinners. Kindness that involves a concern for all people and then demonstrates it through actions.
Nehemiah speaks of the kindness of God toward the people of Israel. God brought them out of Egyptian bondage, parted the Red Sea before them, swallowed Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea, led them by day and night, supplied them with manna, quail, and water, and made a covenant with them. After all this, they still rebelled against him. In spite of this, Nehemiah says of God, “But you are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them” (9:17).
Jesus also showed kindness. During his time, there were few institutions of mercy. Few hospitals and mental institutions existed. There were few homes for orphans and few havens for the forsaken. In such a world, Jesus brought kindness. He healed the sick, lame, blind, and deaf.
David showed kindness to King Saul. Though Saul admired David at first, his admiration soon turned to jealousy and hate when the people paid more attention to David than Saul. He tried to kill David on several occasions, and David had to flee for his life. David had the opportunity to kill Saul on two occasions, but he showed kindness by sparing his life.
God showed the greatest act of kindness by sending his Son to died for our sins. Paul wrote, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4).
We Must Produce Goodness
Goodness involves moral and spiritual excellence which is shown by sweetness and active kindness. The key word in the definition is active. We can be morally upright and yet not show the grace of goodness. Goodness entails self-sacrifice and refers to the quality found in a person who is ruled what is good. We try to be like God. The true source of goodness is found in God. We do good because we have a good heart, not because we are expecting some medal or reward.
Joseph was a good man. While he was betrothed to Mary, the mother of Jesus, he discovered she was pregnant. Since he was a righteous man, he could not marry her, assuming she had been unfaithful to him. Since he was a good man, he could not bear the thought of disgracing her, so he decided to put her away secretly.
Jesus himself said, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27).
Believers are commanded to show goodness. Paul said, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
The Jewish people practice a custom called shiva after a death in the community. Friends, neighbors, and relatives practically take over the house of the bereaved for a week. They bring their own crates to sit on. They provide food and clean the place up. In a highly symbolic meal, the visitors feed the bereaved like a baby with forks and spoons. Wisdom has taught that the mourner needs the presence of others whether the person wants to acknowledge it or not.