“And the fruits of the Spirit are … forbearance, kindness, goodness… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Oh dear, it has been a few weeks since I wrote about my journey in learning more about the Holy Spirit. Well, here we go. We are still talking about the fruits of the Spirit, which are listed in Galatians 5 and are exemplified in the life of Christ. This week, we are looking at 3 more ‘fruits’ of the Spirit, specifically forbearance, kindness and goodness and how it will benefit you to have these in your life.
Forbearance is not usually in my normal vocabulary, so I had to look it up. It means patience. Wouldn’t it be easier to say that than forbearance? Anyway, to me patience is more than just putting up with things, I feel that it is being understanding, and not giving into fears or emotions. Steady. Calm. Collected. This reminds me of my old dog, Bert. The last 3 weeks, he has been kitten-sitting and teaching the mommy cat how to be a mommy. Even when she gets upset and meows “Get out,” he just sits there watching the kittens and helping her learn this new stage in life. Paul said that love is patience, so being patient is showing love to someone. You know, it is so easy for us to lose sight of a person’s journey, to expect them to be at the same point that we are at. Our prayers and worry can sometimes lead to impatience with the person. But we never see Jesus being impatient with people’s journeys, he met them where they were and helped them to the next step in their journey. The Holy Spirit’s influence in Jesus’ life led Him to be patient with everyone He met.
Kindness, to me, is gentle words. My favorite example of kindness is my husband. Seriously, when I think of how to show God’s kindness to other people, I think of how my husband treats people and animals. Kindness seems to come naturally for him, as if it is part of his nature. Jesus was always kind, especially with women and children. His words never seem harsh, for instance – when he was telling the children to come to him (Matthew 19:14) or when he was talking to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11). Even to his disciples, Jesus spoke kindly to them. Look at how many times Jesus had the opportunity to put the disciples down or call them stupid. He never did. He gently corrected or just let mistakes go. Let me ask you this – Have you ever seen a kind person who is on a power trip? They don’t go together, do they? Kindness allows you to see yourself and others as humans, on a journey, learning together. This aspect of humility and acceptance could be seen in Jesus’ life and was the result of seeing people the way God sees us.
I find it interesting that Paul splits kindness and goodness into 2 attributes. Sitting here, I am trying to figure out a way to define goodness or being good. I mean, I can think of people who I would say ‘has a good heart,’ but to think of word picture to define goodness, I am struggling with. Maybe goodness is the action part of kindness. Maybe it is a right/godly action, because it is the right thing to do. This pretty much sums up Jesus’ ministry and life on earth, he was kindness in action and doing what was right. Actually, according to the Old Testament, and Jesus’ himself, one of God’s unique attributes is goodness. Personally, I struggle with goodness…without bitterness! I will be kind, but I expect return payment. Anyone with me on this? I know that when the Holy Spirit is working with me on making me more Christ-like, I don’t have the bitterness or expectation of getting a return for my loving-actions. If I’m not close to God, then I’m mean and bitter with too many expectations. There is no in-between. The Psalmist prayed, saying, “You (God) are good and do good,” he then goes on to pray that he would be taught God’s statutes (Psalm 119:68). I feel that this is a great prayer to pray when you find yourself struggling with goodness.
In conclusion, Jesus, when talking about Himself, said “I am the vine and you (Christians) are the branches.” Obviously, if a branch gets disconnected from the vine, it is going to die. But if it stays attached and is getting its nutrients from the vine, it is going to grow. When a plant is growing, a farmer expects there to be fruit on it. If there is no fruit on it, then it will be pruned off so something else can grow in its place.What is our fruit? It is the character of God, the transformation of the Holy Spirit changing us from our broken, selfish hearts into someone who has kindness, patience and goodness. My question is this – if you are not seeing these changes in your life, are you sure that you are actually connected to God right now? Are you seeking a relationship with God or just His benefits? I mean, nutrients from the branch is great, but it really matters that the branch and the vine are one continuous plant, that there is no break or tear that would allow you to begin dying off. My challenge for you this week is this – ask God for more evidence of the Spirit in your life…and follow through any changes He asks you to make! May you have a kind-goodness-patience filled week as you and God grow together this week.
P.S. Don’t forget to read the previous blogs in this series here –
- “Like Jesus… Filled With The Holy Spirit.”
- “3 Ways the Holy Spirit Divinely Intervenes In Our Lives.”
- “3 Methods That The Gift Of Prophecy Was Revealed in the Early Life of Jesus.”
- “Jesus and John the Baptist: Making a Difference In Their Families.”
- “Temptations Leading to Faith.”
- “3 Ways We Can Stay Focused on Our Callings.”
- “Measuring our Impact Instead Of Flashy Miracles.”
- “Love, Joy and Peace”