MANIFEST YOUR SALVATION BY GIVING ME SELF-CONTROL

Galatians 5:22-23 – The fruit of the Spirit is self-control; against such things there is no law.

The last attribute Paul mentions to the Galatians is self-control.  The word temperance used in KJV is translated self-control in the NASB.  Paul shared Christ with Felix in Acts 24:25. He discussed righteousness, self-control, and judgment.  God’s desire for every believer is self-government.  That was God’s plan in the beginning for Adam and Eve. Out of a relationship with God, Adam was expected to govern his own life within the surroundings where the Lord had placed him.  Jesus, whom Paul calls “the last Adam, who is a life giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45), governed Himself out of His relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit.  It is possible for each believer to be self-governing if one is fully surrendered to the Spirit of God.

Self-control is very important in the marriage bond.  Consider Paul’s instruction to “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5-6).  Paul also gave instructions concerning the unmarried.  “If they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9-10).  Peter also dealt with the subject of self-control by writing, “in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance” (2 Peter 1:6).  Peter gave his own list of disciplines for the Christian life, and self-control is right in the center.  Are there areas in your life that are out of control and need the power of this attribute?  Can you list areas in your life in which self-control operates freely?

I want to be clear that I am not speaking about a person by their own strength or effort living a life of self-control.  I am addressing an attribute of the Holy Spirit.  We can live a life of self-control by surrendering our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of His Spirit. 

Father, I ask for the Holy Spirit to show me areas of my life needing Your power for self-control. I ask for the Spirit to strengthen me with this attribute in specific areas in which You make me aware.  Lord, I want to live under Your governmental rule and demonstrate a lifestyle of self-control in all I do.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, for this part of Your nature in me!

YOUR GENTLENESS HAS MADE ME GREAT

Galatians 5:22-23 – The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.

King David gave this testimony of the Lord in 2 Samuel 22:36, “Your gentleness has made me great” (NKJV).  In 2 Samuel 22, David wrote a song to the Lord in gratitude for God’s deliverance from the hands of his enemies, including King Saul.  David began by declaring that the Lord is his rock, his fortress, and his deliverer. In verse 36 (KJV), David spoke of God’s “gentleness.”  In the NASB, the word gentleness is translated “help.”  Gentleness speaks of the Lord’s help.  Our God is an ever-present help in the time of need for He said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’”  (Hebrews 13:5-6). The writer of Hebrews also exhorted us by saying, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). In all these exhortations, we find the gentleness of the Lord revealed.

The Scriptures repeat David’s conviction of God’s help in Psalm 18:35. “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.”  In this verse, the translators use the word gentleness.   Paul, as he instructed the church at Corinth, spoke about the attitude in which he handled them.  “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!” (2 Corinthians 10:1).  Paul strongly depended upon Christ and His meek and gentle spirit to be manifested in and through him as he ministered to God’s people. Before Paul’s encounter with Jesus, he was hard and legalistic in his dealings with God’s people. Later, as Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles, he was the representative of Christ. He understood that it was Christ’s Spirit in him ministering to the Lord’s people.

The fruit of the Spirit in the believer is gentle.  He administers the salvation of God with gentleness and meekness.  God does not come with the attitude, “I am the Lord, and you had better obey me”!  Rather, He draws us to Himself through His mercy and grace.  He takes His time ministering His salvation to each of us.  At times, He cries for the lost through an intercessor. Other times, He lays His burden for the salvation of a person on the heart of a believer.  The Spirit of God is gentle in His dealings.  The testimony of David should be ours as well.

Father, I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me the shield of salvation for every problem I face.  I ask You to uphold me with the nature of Jesus and then to strengthen me with Your gentleness. Make me great for Your Glory.  Your right hand upholds me, and Your gentleness makes me great.

UNBELIEF DOES NOT NULLIFY GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

Galatians 5:22 – The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness.

The fruit of the Spirit flows out of God Himself. Faithfulness originates with our Heavenly Father, as do all of these attributes. When Jesus judged the religious leaders of His day, as recorded in Matthew 23, He pointed out their neglect of the weightier matters of the law recorded in Micah 6:8.  He accused them of neglecting justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Faithfulness is associated with humility. Faithfulness relates to another person’s interest. It takes humility in order to be faithful. Our first priority in faithfulness is toward God. We need to be faithful in His interests, faithful to His will, faithful to other believers, and faithful to share with those still separated from God’s love revealed in Christ, the Lord.

We begin to learn about faithfulness as we make reading God’s Word a priority. Through the Word of God, we learn of His desire to reveal Christ in us. The Word of God is the primary way the Spirit of God instructs each of us. He will give us power to be faithful to His instructions as we allow Him to control our thinking and actions. At times, He will reprove us in order to bring our thoughts into alignment with His own. He brings correction as needed, to establish our life in Christ’s righteousness.

Our life of prayer is as important to our relationship with our Father as His Holy Word. We need to hear God’s still, small voice. Every believer is called to be faithful in praying for others. Jesus has invited us to participate with Him in His ministry of intercession. The Scriptures declare, “He ever lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 2:17; 7:25). It is our responsibility to pray faithfully as well. There are two specific areas the Lord Jesus commanded us to ask the Father. First, we pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as in heaven.  Second, we must pray faithfully for God to send laborers into the Harvest.

Father, I ask for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in faithfulness. I ask for a greater commitment to Your interests. I ask for faithfulness toward my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. I ask for faithfulness to bear witness of Your kingdom to those around me.   

GOODNESS AND MERCY SHALL FOLLOW ME

Galatians 5:22 – The fruit of the Spirit is goodness.

Goodness is the result of the righteousness of Christ established in one’s life through the goodness of God.  “It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4) KJV.  The NASB says “It is the kindness of God.”  Goodness and kindness are very closely related. Paul told the Church at Rome that he was convinced they were full of goodness.  He related goodness to what they knew in Christ for the purpose of admonishing one another (Romans 15:14).

Taking the time to encourage others comes from “goodness.”  Paul says that “the fruit of light is rooted in goodness” (Ephesians 5:9).  Paul links goodness to a desire God has for the life of a believer.  “To this end, we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11).  Paul links goodness with free will:  “Without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion, but of your own free will” (Philemon 1:14).

Goodness begins with God’s love toward us.  Goodness continues as it becomes part of our nature through the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God is always at work to manifest the nature of Christ in every believer.  He desires to see us filled and full of the goodness of God. This can only happen as we grow in our knowledge of Christ.  This knowledge is not only about Him, but what He desires for us to impart to others.  He has called each of us to admonish and encourage one another in our walk as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The manifestation of goodness in our daily walk is evidence that we have embraced God’s light.  Two areas that reveal God’s goodness are our strong desire for goodness and how goodness flows out of our free will without any compulsion on the part of others.

Father, I thank You for Your goodness in leading me to repentance.  Thank You for helping me turn from my old ways of thinking.  Thank You for giving me Your supernatural way of thinking which comes from Your Holy Word.  Father, help me be aware of any darkness which may still be in my life.  I desire to be full of goodness and to freely encourage others to receive the goodness of God.

REMEMBER THE KINDNESS OF OUR GOD

Galatians 5:22 – The fruit of the Spirit is kindness.

Out of patience flows kindness.  Impatience always produces unkindness, whether it would be in in words or in attitude.  The Lord has shown great kindness in Christ to all humanity. Throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded of God’s kindness toward His people.  I love what the Psalmist wrote:   “He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.   It is well with the man who is gracious and lends” (Psalm 112:4-5).   Kindness speaks of graciousness and compassion.   It is so easy to forget the needs of others and get caught up with our own situation and circumstances.  The kind person not only has a pleasant attitude, but is aware of other people’s needs, always ready to help when possible.

The Spirit of God is never harsh.  At times, He may be stern in His correction, but it is always in the spirit of kindness.  The Holy Spirit desires to help us control our words.  Have you noticed how easy an unkind word can slip from your mouth?  This is especially true with family members or people with whom we have a close relationship.  Familiarity causes one to speak before we think.  The apostle James provided a good understanding concerning the use of words. “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19).   Again in James 1:26 we are warned that we are “deceived” if we think ourselves to be religious and do not bridle our tongues.   This type of deception is a deception of the heart.

The Psalmist David experienced the kindness of God.  David declared that God’s kindness is better than life itself.  “Because Your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.  So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name” (Psalm 63:3-4).

Celebrate the kindness of God as David did.  Meditate on His kindness.  How many ways has He been gracious and compassionate toward you?  How often have you not responded with kindness toward others?  Will you let your lips praise Him and will you bless the God of your salvation?  Will you allow Him to release His kindness through you to others as you encounter people in your daily walk?  Many experience unkindness on a daily basis.  Let kindness rise up in you and give another this part of God’s character through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for kindness to be developed in you all the days of your life.  Share the kindness which your Heavenly Father has extended to you.  Ask for His help to express kindness to others.  Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth and keep the door of my lips!