The Fruit of the Spirit Page 2 (series: Lessons on Galatians)
by John Lowe
Peace (Gr. “Chara”) is the calm, quiet, and stability, which take place in the justified soul, instead of the doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings, which every person under conviction for his sins feels (more or less) until the assurance of pardon brings peace and satisfaction to the mind. Peace is the first sensible fruit of the pardon of sin “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).. This peace is peace with God in one’s own conscience produced there by the Spirit of God and peace with people, and it is a positive peace, filled with blessing and goodness—not simply the absence of fighting. We could say that this peace is a peace of the Spirit, because it is a higher peace than just what comes when everything is calm and settled. This is a peace of God, which surpasses all understanding “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)..
This grace is not so much a patient waiting for good things to come, such as for more grace, and for glory through the Spirit; but a patient bearing and enduring of troubles with joyfulness, through being strengthened by the Spirit according to his glorious power. It also includes being slow to anger, ready to forgive wrongs, putting up with insults, and bearing with, and forgiving one another. Longsuffering is usually accompanied by gentleness, humanity, cheerfulness, and courteousness, shown in words, gestures, and actions; in imitation of the gentleness of Christ. Longsuffering is associated with love in that it is said in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Charity love suffereth long. . . ”
Long-suffering becomes easier once we take into account that God has suffered long for our sake, and that, if he had not done so, we would have been quickly consumed. Knowing this helps us to endure all the troubles and difficulties of life without complaining; submitting cheerfully to every dispensation of God's providence, and thus deriving benefit from every occurrence. Longsuffering in itself is a work of the Spirit! “Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run . . . To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game.” (Luther)
Longsuffering means that you can have love, joy, and peace even over a long period of time when people and events annoy you. God is not quickly irritated with us “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)., so we should not be quickly irritated with others.
Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness are the graces which relate to others.
The same word which is translated gentleness here is translated "kindness" in 2 Corinthians 6:6. The word means goodness, kindness, and benevolence; and is opposed to a harsh, grouchy, twisted temper. It is a pleasing disposition; it is mildness of temperament, calmness of spirit, an unruffled disposition, and a disposition to treat everybody with courtesy and politeness. This is one of the regular effects of the Spirit's operations on the heart. Religion makes no one crabby, and morose, and sour. It sweetens the temper; corrects an irritable disposition; makes the heart kind; inclines us to make everyone around us as happy as possible. Sad to say, this is a very rare grace which is often missing in many who have a considerable amount of Christian excellence.
Gentleness has the idea of being teachable, not having a superior attitude, not demanding one’s rights. It isn’t timidity or passiveness; “It is the quality of the man who is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time.” (Barclay) It is important for the Christian to see that the self-assertiveness that is so much part of the twentieth-century life should not be valued highly. It is much better that each of us curtails the desire to be
pre-eminent and exercises a proper meekness (or gentleness). It is said that Peter wept whenever he remembered the sweet gentleness of Christ in His daily contact with people.
Goodness has been defined as the perpetual desire not only to abstain from every appearance of evil, but to do good to the bodies and souls of men to the utmost of our ability. But all this must spring from a good heart—a heart purified by the Spirit of God; and then, the tree being made good, the fruit must be good also.
Goodness seems to be used here in the sense of kindness, or a disposition to do good to others. The sense is, that a Christian must be a good man. We can be good only because the good Spirit of God, the author of the good work of grace upon the soul predisposes it to perform acts of goodness to men, in a natural, civil, moral, spiritual, and evangelistic way, for the benefit both of soul and body; such goodness is well pleasing to God.
Faith may be used here in the sense of fidelity and may mean that the Christian will be a faithful man, a man faithful to his word and promises; a man who can be trusted or confided in. It is probable that the word is used in this sense because the object of the apostle is not to speak of the feelings which we have toward God so much as to illustrate the influences of the Spirit in directing and controlling our feelings toward people. True religion makes a man faithful. The Christian is faithful as a man; faithful as a neighbor, friend, father, husband, and son. He is faithful to his contracts and faithful to his promises. He is punctual in performing promises, conscientious and careful in preserving what is committed to his trust, honest in transacting business, neither does he betray the secret of his friend, nor disappoint the confidence of his employer. No man can be sure he is a Christian, if he is not faithful, and all pretensions to being under the influences of the Spirit when such fidelity does not exist, are deceitful and vain.
The idea is that the Spirit of God works in us faithfulness both to God and to people. It is the characteristic of the man who is reliable. The ability to serve God faithfully through the years and through the temptations of life is not something we achieve on our own. It comes from the Spirit, as does faith in Christ; because a person does not create his own faith, nor do all men have it: it is a gift of God, installed by His power, and the work of His Spirit, hence He is called the Spirit of faith. Faith shows itself in believing in Christ for salvation, in embracing the doctrines of the Gospel, and making a profession of them, which is called the profession of faith; all which, when right, comes from the Spirit of God.
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
“Meekness” is the quality of humility and lowliness of mind, of which Christ is the prime example and pattern; and which the Holy Spirit places into the heart of a born again person; and it causes a person to have modest thoughts of himself, to walk humbly with God, to acknowledge and be thankful for every favor and blessing, to depend on His grace, and to behave with modesty and humility among men.
“Temperance,” (or "self-restraint;” “self-control”) embodies both chastity and sobriety, and particularly moderation in eating and drinking. It may be observed, that these fruits of the Spirit are opposed to the works of the flesh. So love is opposed to hatred; joy to rivalries and envying; peace to conflict, strife, and troublemaking; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and meekness, to wrath and murders; faith to idolatry, witchcraft, and heresies; and temperance to adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, drunkenness, and carousing.
This last fruit looks to oneself, and implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and food, but control of the temper, the tongue, the desires, and the passion for money or power. The world knows something of self-control, but almost always for a selfish reason. It knows the self-disciple and self-denial someone will go through for themselves, but the self-control of the Spirit will also work on behalf of others.