The last few weeks we’ve been giving a little deeper thought to the fruit of the Spirit. While we probably know the basic meaning of these qualities, I hope you’ve been made to reflect and examine “inspect” the fruit of the Spirit in your life. This last look will concentrate on faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
This aspect of the fruit of the Spirit has do do with loyalty and reliability. It is the quality of a steward that the master need never worry about Matt. 24:45. It is the kind of man to whom the teachings of “the Faith” should be entrusted (2 Tim. 2:2). In Paul’s writing it is the quality of a statement that the hearer can absolutely rely upon (e.g., 1 Tim.1:15; 1 Tim. 3:1; 1 Tim. 4:9; et al). It is also said of those who chose to die rather than deny their Lord Jesus (Rev. 2:10 and 3:14). And it is said of God who called us into the fellowship of His Son (1 Cor. 1:9). It is this loyalty, this reliability, this trustworthiness that the Spirit of God seeks to produce in the Christian. This is a man whose word can be trusted, whose loyalty can be relied upon, and who would rather die than deny the Lord who redeemed him.
The Greek word is praus and is difficult to translate precisely. The classical Greek writers defined it as the middle between the extremes of passion / apathy or pride / abject degradation or violent grabbing / completely hands-off, etc. Bible translations have used meekness, courtesy, modesty, and gentleness to express the meaning—all of which are trying to find a word to express “appropriate restraint”. This fruit of the Spirit is about finding “appropriate restraint”, especially in human relations. This makes sense of Gal. 6:1 “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted”, 2Tim. 2:24,25 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth”, and other similar passages.
The Greek word means to be in possession of something. In an ethical sense it describes the strength of spirit in which a man grasps control and holds control of himself, his desires, his lusts, and his passions. Self control, however, is not merely holding back from giving in to the works of the flesh; this is critical to realize. Self control must be exercised in two important ways: keeping the Christian from certain sinful things and deliberately engaging in commanded things. Christianity is not merely the religion of “no”; it is also about “yes”. It is true that self control will say no to the temptations of, for example, sexual sin; but it will also press us to be deliberately active in, for another example, practicing gentleness. Indeed, self control is the foundation for so many aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.
So, about your discipleship…are you living by the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, and producing the fruit of the Spirit? It makes a difference: Ga 6:7,8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Don’t let the weeds of the works of the flesh choke out the good fruit the Spirit wants to produce in your life.