How the Fruit of the Spirit Works: Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control

This guest post is by Jeffrey Kranz, who writes more Bible-study material at OverviewBible.com.

We’re going through the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), a list of qualities the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. You can find plenty of books on the fruit of the Spirit, but in these posts I’m focusing on two things:

  1. What each fruit of the Spirit quality means
  2. A Bible character that sets a good example of that quality

We’ve already looked at most of love, joypeace, patience, kindness, and goodness. Now let’s look at faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Fruit of the Spirit: faithfulness

The fruit of the Spirit includes faithfulness. It means sincerity and trustworthiness, and one story of David gives us a good illustration.

Example of faithfulness: David

Back in the old days, God has anointed two men king of Israel: Saul is first, and David is divinely lined up to replace him. As you might imagine, Saul isn’t a big fan of David. In fact, he wants David dead. So Saul gathers up his troops and hunts the young man across the countryside.

David catches Saul and his army off guard one night, though. He sneaks into Saul’s camp and sees Saul sleeping. All his guards are asleep, too.

And instead of killing his enemy and sneaking away (which could have put an end to the hunt), David takes the king’s spear and leaves.

The next morning, David shows Saul the spear that he took the night before, and explains why he didn’t kill Saul:

“The LORD will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I refused to stretch out my hand against the LORD’S anointed.” (1Sa 26:23)

David was faithful: he backed the man God made king, even when it wasn’t the easy thing to do.

What about us? Are we faithful to God when it’s not easy? Are we true to our words?

Through the Holy Spirit, we can be.

Fruit of the Spirit: gentleness

The Greek work for “gentleness” in this list is about more than just going easy on people. The gentleness of the Spirit is more about how our humility before God manifests itself to other people.

A gentle person has great respect for God, and therefore great respect for others.

Example of gentleness: Jeremiah

This man has it rough. He and Job would have a lot to talk about. God sends Jeremiah messages for the people, but they continue to mistreat him—and even try to kill him off.

But Jeremiah keeps at it, “like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jer 11:19). He fears God, not men; therefore, he continues to share God’s word with the people.

Fruit of the Spirit: self-control

Self-control is the opposite of excess and indulgence. The self-controlled person puts principle before pleasure.

Example of self-control: Daniel

The prophet Daniel shows self-control throughout his book.

  • When Daniel is taken captive to Babylon, he refuses to indulge in the king’s finest food (which didn’t meet the Levitical food standards). Instead, he plays it safe and eats vegetables.
  • When it becomes illegal to pray to anyone but the king, Daniel continues to pray to God. He knows that the punishment is being thrown to the lions, but he puts God first.
  • When he mourns for his people, Daniel abstains from rich food, meat, wine, and ointment.

Daniel denies himself to put God and others first.

And we should do the same.

These examples of the fruit of the Spirit are just scratching the surface

That brings this series to a close. Of course, there are many more examples of the fruit of the Spirit in Scripture.

The folks I’ve listed are all fallible people. We have plenty of documented screw-ups for some of the heroes on this list. They’re not perfect, but they set a few examples for us when it comes to these qualities.

What do you think? Which people do you know who have exemplified the fruit of the Spirit for you? 

This might be a good opportunity to give a shout-out to your pastor or mentor in the Faith. Share this (or one of the other articles) with them and let them know what an encouragement they’ve been.

How the Fruit of the Spirit Works: Kindness and Goodness

This guest post is by Jeffrey Kranz, who writes more Bible-study material at OverviewBible.com.

We’re going through the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), a list of qualities the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. You can find plenty of books on the fruit of the Spirit, but in these posts I’m focusing on two things:

  1. What each fruit of the Spirit quality means
  2. A Bible character that sets a good example of that quality

We’ve already looked at love, joy, peace, and patience. Now let’s look at kindness and goodness.

Fruit of the Spirit: kindness

I think we all know what kindness is. It’s that quality of doing right by one another—that warm-heartedness softness we show to those we care about.

I love Dr. Zodhiates’ description of kindness: “It is the grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be been harsh and austere.”1

Fun fact: the Greek for “kindness” in Galatians 5:22 is related to the Greek word for choice aged wine. As a good wine gets sweeter with time, so the Holy Spirit makes us softer, warmer, and kinder.

Example of kindness: Boaz

We already met Ruth (she’s my example of love). Boaz is the man she ends up marrying.

Boaz is a rich man who is impressed by Ruth’s character. He is abundantly kind to Ruth, and goes to great ends to make sure she gets all the food she needs:

  • He has his employees harvest grain for her.
  • He invites her to eat with his workers (instead of finding lunch for herself).
  • He provides her with water.
  • He protects her from those who would mistreat her (since she’s from another country).

And just so you know, Boaz isn’t just laying on the charm for the lady. He’s kind to his employees, too. The first words we hear from Boaz are a blessing to his employees: “May the Lord be with you” (Ru 2:4).

Boaz is generous and kind: a great example to us.

Fruit of the Spirit: goodness

Goodness is righteousness in action. Goodness boldly does what’s right, and encourages others to do good as well.

Example of goodness: Hezekiah

The king Hezekiah is an example of goodness. When he takes the throne in Judah, the temple of God is in disrepair, and idols are set up across the land.

So Hezekiah makes things right:

  • He reinstates the priests of God (2 Ch 29:5).
  • He brings people from all Israel to celebrate Passover (2 Ch 30:5).
  • He removes the idols (2Ch 31:1).

The Bible says that Hezekiah “did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God,” and everything he did, “he did with all his heart and prospered” (2 Ch 31:20–21).

This is goodness: understanding what is right and making it happen.

A few thoughts on kindness and goodness

Looking at these biblical heroes challenges me:

  • Am I becoming softer, warmer, and kinder? I really should be.
  • When I know what is right, do I follow through and do it? It’s one thing to know what’s good and talk about what’s good, but it’s another to put it into effect.

Who are your examples?

Which Bible character (or Christian figure, for that matter) comes to mind for you when you think of goodness or kindness? I’d love to hear about it.

The next post finishes off the series with faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

1 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

The Fruit of the Spirit: Biblical Examples of Peace and Patience

This guest post is by Jeffrey Kranz, who writes more Bible-study material at OverviewBible.com.

Isaiah9.6We’re going through the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23), a list of qualities the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. You can find plenty of books on the fruit of the Spirit, but in these posts I’m focusing on two things:

  1. What each fruit of the Spirit quality means
  2. A Bible character that sets a good example of that quality

We’ve already looked at love and joy. Now let’s look at peace and patience.

Fruit of the Spirit: peace

Quick question: when you think of peace, what comes to mind? Calm? Serenity?

Me, too. But when Paul lists peace as a fruit of the Spirit, he means literal peace (harmonious living with others), not just peace of mind. It’s the kind of peace we Christians are responsible for maintaining between one another (Ep 4:3).

Example of peace: James

James sets a good example of this kind of peace. James was the brother of Jesus, a leader in the early church, and probably the author of the book of James (not to be confused with the apostle James, the son of Zebedee).

Back in the book of Acts, the church was dealing with a serious question: “do Gentiles who convert to Christianity need to be circumcised, and do they need to observe the Law of Moses?”

There was a lot of debate on the issue (Ac 15:5–7). The former Pharisees are sure the old law is necessary. But according to Peter, Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace, so why put the Gentiles under the rules that the Jews never could keep?

James stands up and makes a call:

  1. The Gentiles don’t need to be circumcised or put under all the Mosaic customs
  2. They should abstain from certain foods and from sexual immorality.

This compromise sets everyone at peace again: the apostles are in agreement, and the story moves on.

That’s a serious example of peace, folks. James handled a hot-button issue in a way that honored God and made peace in a heated debate.

Imagine what it would be like if more of us followed James’ example. We’re not all church leaders, but we can follow the Spirit and look for ways to bring peace to those around us.

Fruit of the Spirit: patience

When I think of patience, I think of how little of it I have when I get behind the steering wheel. But in Galatians 5:22, patience isn’t just about waiting for time to go by.

It’s about putting up with hardship . . . for as long as it takes.

James (the gentleman we just met) uses one famous character from the Old Testament as an example of patience . . .

Example of patience: Job

. . . and who better (Ja 5:11)? Even if you’ve never read the Bible, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Job.

“The patience of Job” is an English idiom for a good reason.  Here’s an overview of his story:

  1. Job is a righteous (and very rich) man who worships God (Jo 1:1–3).
  2. Satan bets that Job will curse God if he loses everything (Jo 1:9–11, 2:4–5).
  3. Job loses everything, but his faith in God holds out (Jo 1:22, 2:10, 42:8).

This guy had patience. He wasn’t perfect. In fact, he flat out complains that God is afflicting him for no good reason at some points. But through it all, Job’s faith is in God—no matter what happens.

This is the kind of patience the Spirit gives us.

A few thoughts on peace and patience

Looking at these biblical heroes challenges me:

  • When I disagree with someone, do I strive to make peace or to prove them wrong?
  • Does my behavior in blog comments or on Twitter promote peace or partisanship?
  • How long am I willing to put up with hardship?

Of course, these examples are still fallible humans. They do help us see what peace and patience look like in real life, though.

Who are your examples?

Which Bible character (or Christian figure, for that matter) comes to mind for you when you think of peace or patience? I’d love to hear about it.

Coming up next: kindness and goodness!

Which Old Testament Book Did Jesus Quote Most?

Old-testament-books-Jesus-quotes-mostPeople didn’t follow Jesus only because of his miracles—they also followed him because he knew how to handle the Old Testament:

  • He could match wits with the temple teachers at age 12 (Lk 2:42, 46–47).
  • He resisted the devil’s temptations using passages from Deuteronomy (Mt 4:1–11).
  • He stumped the Pharisees when it came to who the son of David is (Mt 22:41–46).

Jesus is the greatest Old Testament scholar of all time, and it makes me wonder: which books of the Old Testament does Jesus quote most often in the Gospels?

Let’s count them down game-show style:

The 4 Old Testament books Jesus quotes most

#4 Exodus

Exodus is famous for the stories of Moses, the burning bush, the 10 plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea. It’s the story of God calling Israel from Egypt and making them his own people in the wilderness.

Jesus quotes Exodus seven times, usually referencing the laws God gives Israel in the wilderness—especially the [Read more…]