Reality Era

It would seem that we live in a society that embraces “reality TV” as its newfound passion. Folks are so interested in the “real” lives of celebrities, they’ll tune in weekly to see the goings on of their favorite stars. The actual reality is that those shows and basically every other reality-based programming are scripted, edited, and spliced together to form what producers call “good TV.”

I say that to say this: most of us conduct ourselves as if we are producing “reality TV” using our lives as the backdrop. You see, the vast majority of our existences, though not seen on TV or the big screen, are scripted, edited, and spliced together to show the general public what we would call our “true selves.” Honestly, that is the furthest thing in the world from who we really are.

My former pastor uses the term “ambassador” selves. What the rest of the world sees and believes about us is the “us” we allow them to see. We put the best versions of ourselves on display, while the “true us” stays at home in stark contrast to that “shiny and sparkling us” the public gets to see. The true us is flawed, faulty, broken, and weak. Who would want to see that version of us?

I’ll tell you who–God. He wants us opened and exposed. It is only then that He can perform a deep cleansing, a heart surgery of sorts, on us. We must come to terms with who we truly are before we can ever hope to overcome those weaknesses and flaws we have so carefully hidden from the people we have tried to impress over the years.

Take me, for example. Some people may take a look at me and think, “Man! That Herb Jordan has it all together. He has a stable job, great wife and kids, is well-liked by his peers, and does a lot at church.” While all that stuff may be true, that does not by any means indicate that I have it all together. You see, church, work, and the general public get my ambassador self. At home, it’s a different story.

In the vein of “reality,” I’d like to be real for a moment. The people who get my ambassador self don’t get the shortcomings, hang-ups, or attitudes those in my household see on a daily basis. My wife and kids can attest to the fact that I tend to be irritable from time-to-time. They will nod their collective head in agreement when I say that I can be argumentative and seldom admit to being wrong.

Ambassador Herb isn’t like that. Ambassador Herb doesn’t have an anger problem, but the real Herb does. Ambassador Herb doesn’t “pop off” when something annoys him, but the real Herb does. Ambassador Herb never had an addiction to internet porn, but the real Herb did. Ambassador Herb always knows what to say, how to pray an eloquent prayer, and has the charisma to engage an audience. The real Herb does too, but his gift is not always on display when folks aren’t “watching.”

The real Herb is a work in progress. The real Herb is still “getting there.” So, why write all this in such a public forum? Because it’s time for me and millions of others to be “really real.” While we should not give place to the devil by wearing our struggles as badges of honor, we should also not hide from them. There’s a very important reason why. Every fault and failure the devil meant for our destruction is a ministry tool in the hands of Almighty God. He can take our mess-ups and turn them into masterpieces for His glory.

Now that my real self has been put on display, I can minister to the needs of others based on what I have come through. I can counsel a man going through a porn addiction, because I have been there. I can help someone going through a divorce, because I went through one a decade ago. I can help someone who has grown up without a father, because I never met mine.

Just as important is the fact that I can be ministered to by people who have come through what I still may struggle with. Someone can help me with anger issues. Someone can help me to embrace the fact that I don’t have to be “perfect” all the time, or ever, for that matter.

Being real has multiple benefits. It releases us to be us. It allows us to be vulnerable, which allows us to be healed. And it allows our hurts to be a help to others.

So I say, let the cleansing begin! Let’s get real!!!

Self Control

Galatians 5:22, 23—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

      The nine fruits of the Spirit can be divided into three groups for study and consideration. Love, joy, and peace reflect our relations to God. Patience, kindness, and goodness can be seen in our relations to others. Faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are indicative of the regulation and conduct of our own individual Christian lives.

      The dictionary defines self-control as control or restraint of oneself or one’s actions, feelings, etc. The Greek word used in Galatians 5:23 is egkrateia, which means having command or mastery over or possession of one’s own behavior, which is accomplished through and by the power of the Lord, proceeding from within oneself, but not by oneself.

II Peter 1:5-7—But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

      Let’s begin our discussion by examining what self-control is not. Picture an old Western on television. The hero has been shot. With no doctor in sight, the faithful sidekick takes out a knife to cut the bullet out of his friend’s body. Knowing that this will be painful, he gives the wounded hero a stick to hold between his teeth; this will help him keep from losing his cool. The image is one of grim determination and resolution to “grit it out” through the pain.

      This does not depict the concept of self-control Paul discusses. The biblical understanding of the term requires death of the sinful nature by divine grace as we surrender ourselves to the Lord. In Galatians 5:19–21, Paul lists the characteristics of life in the flesh: “adultery,fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders,drunkenness, revelries, and the like.” All these categories reflect behaviors that are out of control and are common in today’s world.

      The type of self-control that emanates from the presence of the Spirit in our thoughts and emotions is undergirded by the power of God as believers yield themselves to the Lord in obedience to His will. Several verses help us understand this better:

Galatians 5:16—I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Philippians 2:13—for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Romans 8:9—But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Consider also Romans 12:2, where Paul refers to the transformation that comes as we renew our minds.

      Self-control enables the believer to overcome sinful and destructive habits, focus on ministering to others, build up the body of Christ, and live in mutual submission to others (Ephesians 5:21—submitting to one another in the fear of God), thereby leading a life that is positive and productive in the family, the neighborhood, the church, and place of employment. For example, Paul exhorted the Ephesian churches: Ephesians 4:28—Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Galatians 5:13, 14—For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

      The Christian should not assume maintaining self-control to be a purely individual matter. It is vital to recognize that ministry within the body of Christ entails responsibility to help others. Notice the corporate emphasis in each of the following verses of Scripture:

Galatians 6:1—Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

Galatians 6:10—Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

1 Corinthians 12:26—If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Ephesians 4:15,16—Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Philippians 4:2, 3—I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel.”

Christians today struggle as well to gain control of various aspects of their lives. Through members ministering to one another, however, the body of Christ builds itself up in love as each person becomes more mature in character and behavior.

Ephesians 4:16—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

      In practical ways, healing for emotional issues that cause people to lose control of their reactions can occur in a variety of church contexts: small cell and prayer groups, Wednesday night gatherings, youth services, and many more. A Bible study class that encourages broad participation, provides opportunities for sharing, and offers prayer and counsel on threatening issues can become a valuable “support group” for hurting people. Spiritual and practical counsel offered in love can help a believer “maintain control” with the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit. The camaraderie of a small group of Christians can greatly enhance the working of the Spirit in each life.

      In this life, no one achieves all the fruit of the Spirit equally. Some speculate that Paul might have lost his temper when he had a “sharp” disagreement with Barnabas over whether to invite John Mark to join them for another missionary journey:

Acts 15:36–41—Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

In regard to gaining perfection in this life, Paul wrote, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” –Philippians 3:12

       The Spirit of Christ who works in our hearts to help us live above sinful practices, as well as the offering of loving counsel by Christian brothers and sisters, enables the fruit of self-control to grow for the glory of God. As a result, we can model God’s values, demonstrate in our behaviors His power to aid us daily, and more effectively share His love for others.

      It’s little wonder that human relationships become the battleground for demonstrating the level of Christian graces and self-control. After all, Jesus said in John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Gentleness

The dictionary defines gentleness as kindly; amiable; not severe, rough, or violent; mild. Gentleness, in the Greek (prautes), is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith.  The New Spirit Filled Life Bible says of gentleness that it is a disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious, and that has passions under control.

      The word is also translated ‘meekness,’ not as an indication of weakness, but of power under control. Too often we are inclined to mistake “meek” for “weak.” The person who possesses this quality pardons offences, corrects faults, and rules his own spirit well. It describes a manner, an attitude, a person’s character, and a way of responding. Gentleness displays a calm disposition, particularly under fire—which actually requires a great deal of strength.

Ephesians 4:2—…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…

 

      In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” In the earlier context (Matthew 11:20), “He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.” This makes clear that gentleness is not weakness, but rather that it describes the way the Lord conducted Himself. Jesus had rebuked the people, but still showed compassion for them.

      We can trust that the hand of our Lord will be gentle as He cares for our welfare. The gentleness, tameness, meekness with which Jesus treated everyone stands in stark contrast to the sudden calamity that befalls sinners at the hands of Satan. The calling of gentleness demands a certain character within us: Ephesians 4:1-3—I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. God charges us to be gentle with others in sincere love, working hard at maintaining the bond of peace, which is His word.

      Colossians 3:12, 13—Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Once again, Christ has shown us kindness, gentleness, and grace. We must do the same to others.

      Gentleness governs our dealings with brethren caught in sin. Galatians 6:1—Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. The temptation to attack must be avoided, and instead the spirit of gentleness requires that we address the issue at hand, not keeping a count of wrongs. By no means does Scripture advocate that we overlook sin in an individual’s life, but there is a gentle way to approach it. Godly wisdom demands gentleness.

 

 II Timothy 2:24, 25—And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.

      Gentleness also governs our dealings with those outside of Christ. Titus 3:1, 2Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. You have an influence on those around you, whether you want to or not. What people should see in your Christian walk is gentleness, self-control, and humility. Your calm demeanor and desire for peace will make you different from the world and will let the world see Jesus in you.

1 Peter 3:15—But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear

Proverbs 15:1—A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

      Gentleness puts the needs of others ahead of our own. It is the characteristic that will show calmness, personal care, tenderness, and the love of Christ in helping our fellow man. Gentleness should be more than just a personality trait. It should be who we are from the work of the Sprit within us. Gentleness also does not allow us room to heap praise on ourselves. It leaves no room for pride.

      When our motives are to make names for ourselves, we miss the boat on what is best for us. This mindset causes us to bully others. We then end up becoming like the builders of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Their downfall was not the tower itself, but the pride and arrogance with which they built it. They sought significance by their achievements alone, ignoring God’s love, care, plan, and providence. Whoa to us who take our eyes off Christ.

      Gentleness allows us to be tender. Just think how vast and powerful God is, Who is bigger than the universe, Who transcends space and time beyond our comprehension. Yet, He treats us with the utmost of tenderness and care. Knowing gentleness is also trusting that God will take care of justice (rather than us doing it ourselves), so we need to think correctly about whom God is and who we are in Him. This understanding of His sovereignty will move us from the hustle and bustle of life to take time and cultivate relationships, because we are at peace with God.

      Gentleness allows for caring and nurturing of others. It helps us stay calm and not escalate problems or “push peoples’ buttons”; it allows us to build others up and help them to grow. It places others first; it is selfless. The most important thing we can do for others is offer our friendship and a listening ear.

      We can look to Jesus Who models ultimate gentleness and care. He does not have to be gentle, yet He takes to time to nurture others even when they make mistakes and fail. When we fall, He helps us up and puts us back together.

      Gentleness must continue to function in a society that does not see its importance or care for perceived limitations; society thinks gentleness equals weakness. Society could not be more erroneous in its thinking. We must strive for gentleness in all dealings, thus proving to the world that we are the strongest when we are the most gentle. Remember, Kingdom dynamics function “backward” from what is “logical.”

Ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit gentleness in my daily life?
  2. What can I do to develop a more prevalent attitude of gentleness?
  3. What blocks gentleness from working and being exhibited in me?
  4. How might I make gentleness function better, stronger, and more quickly, even in times of uncertainly and stress?

Challenge: Strive to be gentle in each situation and all dealings of life this week, no matter how difficult others may be to live with, work with, or attend school with.

 

Faithfulness

Galatians 5:22, 23—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

      The dictionary defines faithfulness as strict or thorough in the performance of duty; true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.; steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant; reliable, trusted, or believed. The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis. In the Galatians passage, the focus is on the concept of trustworthiness, trustfulness, and reliability.

      It’s the concept of living the truth of God’s message in our lives. It’s committing ourselves to Jesus Christ and then letting the reality of that faith permeate our lives on a daily basis. It’s being faithful to the life God has called us to. In a practical way it’s the quality of being true, trustworthy, and reliable in our dealings with others. Faithfulness is also being full of faith, strong or firm in one’s beliefs, loyal, constant in the performance of duties or services, true to one’s work, reliable, and dependable.

      God alone has always been faithful to us, without fail. Because of His perfect character, He cannot be anything but faithful. Lamentations 3:22, 23—Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. God is faithful to us because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. Jesus was judged for our sins. Sin is no longer an issue. God’s faithfulness does not depend on what we do or don’t do. Isn’t that a relief? He has set up His plan so that He is free to be faithful to us. It goes back to the cross.

Romans 5:8—But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

      God is faithful to both believers and non-believers. We are kept alive and have all that we do because of God’s faithfulness to us. He gives us everything that we need for our physical lives and our spiritual lives. We just have to make choices. God does not force anything on us. The issue for every non-believer is, “What do you think of the Lord Jesus Christ?” The issue for the believer is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and learn, believe, and use Bible doctrine. Of course God wants everyone to become believers and to know His faithfulness.

Acts 16:31—So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

1 John 1:9—If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

      God’s faithfulness is shown when our faith is being tested. God will not allow us to be tested or tempted beyond what we can handle. He always provides the opportunity to obtain the knowledge necessary to pass each test before it comes. Therefore, the Word is our way of escape from each test, and that Word is provided by the faithfulness of God. Don’t quit on God.

1 Corinthians 10:13—No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

      Even when we fail, God is faithful to us. If we don’t get back on the right track through the misery we bring on ourselves, He will discipline us. He knows what we need in that department. God never quits on us. By the way, Paul wrote that verse while he was in prison, so he knew a thing or two about having his limits stretched.

Psalm 119:65-68—You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes.

      We can see how God has been faithful to us time and again. Think of how many times you dug a pit for yourself and the grace and faithfulness of God pulled you out. Think of how many times you were worried about something and the grace and faithfulness of God helped you overcome that worry. We can always trust in God to help us.

Deuteronomy 7:9—Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.

God has made many, many, many promises to us. The Bible is full of promises. God is faithful in each of His promises. We need to learn these promises, believe them, and trust in God. If we do this, we will be relaxed and have the faith rest God wants us to have. This Scripture (in Hebrews) warns us about missing out on this faith and rest that God gives. Hebrews 4:1—Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

Jesus has taught us through His word how to be faithful friends. We have learned that a true friend can be trusted. He won’t lie or gossip about his friends. Proverbs 17:9—He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. A true friend is reliable. He can be counted on to do what he says he will do. Proverbs 17:17—A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. A true friend will be encouraging. He will not judge. A true friend is faithful.

      Like all the other parts of the fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness grows in us because of the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, learning biblical doctrine, believing and living it, we will gradually see changes in the way we act. We become faithful because of the faithfulness of God.

      Paul would not agree with the Greek philosopher Plato that virtue comes by recalling innate ideas; nor would he affirm the position of Aristotle that a virtuous life is the result of good habits alone. No, knowing the right thing to do and actually doing it are at opposing ends of the spectrum. The fruit of faithfulness needs to be cultivated. We must continually resolve to be faithful to God, family, friends, and our spheres of influence and intentionally put faithfulness into practice until it becomes a lifestyle.

      Faithfulness is also trustworthiness. That is reflected in the concept of a “trustee” in connection with stewardship. In 1 Corinthians 4:1 we are told, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” A Christian is responsible to be a good steward of the truths God reveals, and to minister these truths in a reliable manner to those who will be taught. The Christian must also be faithful to the recipients.

      If we were not required to account for our actions, responsibility would be meaningless. We must give an account of our time, talents, homes, bodies, speech, and possessions. We must be accountable for everything God has entrusted to us. If our faithfulness can be shown in small matters, it will stand the test of greater responsibility.

      True leadership is achieved in selfless service to others and is wrapped in humility. One can have selfish ambition to control others, to enjoy power for power’s sake, and to be manipulative in control of other people. Jesus gave a different standard to His followers. The one who would be the greatest shall be the servant of all.

      Being faithful requires personal resolve not to wander away from commitments or promises. It’s not always easy to be faithful. Christian faith requires trust in God. Isaiah 25:1—O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Ephesians 3:16, 17—that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…

Challenge: How faithful are we in example, reliability, and stewardship? Take stock of yourself this week. Think about the amount of time you spend on things other than God. Are you faithful to God with your talent, time, resources, etc.? Seek to give more of yourself to God, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable the sacrifice may be.

 

Goodness

Galatians 5:22, 23—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

      Have you ever noticed the wide and sometimes careless ways we use the term “good?” We use it so frequently that done so without thinking. I would venture to say that “good” and “love” are the two most overused words in the English language. Yet a thing or experience you might consider good, someone else may consider only fair, poor, or even bad. “Good” has the implication of some degree of excellence, indeed. What varies is the precise degree of excellence that lies unexpressed, even hidden in the heart, when we use “good” as a sweeping generality.

      It is difficult to say precisely what constitutes goodness. Let’s attempt to nail it down today. The dictionary defines goodness as the state or quality of being good; moral excellence; virtue; kindly feeling, kindness, generosity, joy in being good; the best part of anything; essence; strength; general character recognized in quality or conduct.

      The Greek word for goodness is agathosune, which essentially means virtue or beneficence and infers the uprightness of heart and life. If we walk after the spirit of God, and not the flesh, we will do good deeds and be good people. Agathosune also carries with it the broader sense of goodness, and can be defined as “virtue equipped at every point.”

      Agathosune is therefore active—even aggressive—goodness. The English word “goodness” includes many pleasing qualities, whereas the Greek word indicates one particular quality. It is more than an excellence of character. It is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Agathosune is goodness, but it does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. Thus God can correct, sometimes very severely, and it is goodness in action. As parents who correct their children, it is good because it helps produce responsible adults.

      What is the difference between goodness and kindness (chrestotes)? Jesus showed agathosune when He cleansed the temple and drove out those who were making it a “den of thieves,” but He showed chrestotes when He was kind to Mary as she anointed His feet. The Christian needs that goodness which at the same time can be kind and strong. Like kindness, goodness is more easily observed than defined. And like kindness, it is also one of the ways in which we express Christian love.

Ephesians 5:9—(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),

Romans 15:14—Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

      Biblical goodness is always, under every circumstance, beneficial. Though he had not yet been to Rome at the writing of his epistle, Paul evidently understood that he was writing to an unusually strong congregation. He was so confident that they had a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing that he wrote that they were full of goodness and filled with all knowledge.

      But people, including Christians, are never good because of natural, genetic, innate goodness. The fruit of goodness will never come flowing out of us automatically. On the contrary, good works are something to which we must devote ourselves. They are the evidence that we have integrity. It is evidence that we are made in the image of God. We all have a natural ability to perform outwardly good deeds without being good. You see, goodness goes beyond works.

      This fruit of God’s Spirit is more inward—in our character—touching on every thought, word, and action of the godly person. This demands that motives be right before we call any action good. This means our central and all-influencing motive is loving God and regarding His will in all things. It means that the “good man” is one in whom righteousness flows from inward devotion and love toward God.

      True goodness is inseparable from godliness. Godliness is goodness’ source, foundation, and the sole condition on which goodness is possible. From this, however, it follows that a man may be truly called “good” and at the same time not be perfect. A good person may have failures. It is the direction of such a person’s desires, his motivations, that gradually determines his character, not necessarily the degree of perfection he has achieved.

      Goodness is the product of the Holy Spirit’s influence in the life of a believer. Spirit-led Christians are capable of doing genuinely good deeds with pure motives in a way that is pleasing to God. When we are motivated by the Holy Spirit to do good things, it is then that we glorify God with those deeds. God moves us to live well for Him. When we do, we are considered good and God gets the glory.

      Goodness is the engagement of love. It is virtue in action; it is being a role model and putting into practice excellence in all that we do. It displays integrity, honesty, and compassion to others and allows us to do the right thing. Goodness takes our virtue and excellence and models it to others in the action of love. Goodness is the model for people to repent and accept Christ.

      Goodness is the spiritual fruit that helps produce endearment. It is a trait that makes people liked and even loved by others. It is what is attractive and alluring, that catches people’s attention and respect. This is the quintessential element that draws people to you and finds and keeps friendships going strong. It builds marriages and, thus, shows God’s love to those around us.

      Goodness enables us to be liked and enjoyed, even if an enemy comes against us. It is the taste of what is to come, the flavor of how we are to be (Psalm 34:8—Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!). It is the expression of worship and gratitude to Christ played out in our lives, so we may enjoy Him and He may enjoy us; life then becomes more enjoyable for all.

Challenge: Do something good this week because you are good. Be motivated by God and glorifying Him as opposed to any recognition you might receive from men. You might even go so far as doing something good in secret, to attain no recognition. Do this regardless of your mood or circumstance.

Kindness

Galatians 5:22, 23—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

      In a 2011 U.S. News & World Report poll, 89% of Americans thought that rudeness, incivility, and a lack of kindness had become a serious problem. More than 75% said it had gotten worse in the last ten years. I would say that it’s not a problem; it’s an epidemic.

      The Greek word for kindness in Galatians is chrestotes, which meant to be friendly to others and often depicted rulers, governors, or people who were kind, mild, and benevolent to their subjects. Anyone who demonstrated this quality of chrestotes was considered to be compassionate, considerate, sympathetic, humane, kind, or gentle.

 

      In the setting of Galatians, it refers to a gift from God that is useful for others. Some of these nine gifts are for us, and some are for others. Kindness is reinforced in other settings and means to have integrity in relationships with others. The idea is that kindness is useful in our relationships, and by implication, it also can convey that harshness works against good relationships with others.

 

      One scholar has noted that when the word chrestotes is applied to interpersonal relationships, it conveys the idea of being adaptable to others. Rather than harshly require everyone else to adapt to his own needs and desires, when chrestotes is working in a believer, he seeks to become adaptable to the needs of those who are around him.

      Strong’s #5544: Kindness is goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence, affability. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience.

      Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respecting and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what. We should live out II Corinthians 6:6, 7—by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.

      Every day we meet people who need to be treated kindly. So many people have burdens that are unbearable. And, what they need is an understanding and kind person to walk a mile in their shoes. The old expression “kill them with kindness” rings true. We can kill animosity, bitterness, anger, and hard feelings with a touch of kindness. Kindness puts people at ease. It communicates that we want the best for others, and that we are not out to get anyone. People feel safe around a kind person.

 

      Proverbs 15:1—A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. We are predisposed to becoming unkind when we sense someone is being unkind to us. It’s a defense mechanism. The lack of kindness in our relationships with others conveys arrogance and superiority. When we are unkind we communicate to others that we think we are better than they are. Fortunately, God is able to press our hearts’ “default button,” which returns us to our original state of kindness.

 

      The next time someone treats us unkindly, we should quietly take a breath and then respond thoughtfully to that person. Our frustration will subside. Our anger will melt away. The unkind person will in turn become kind and considerate.

 

      Kindness reveals that we want to be as considerate of others as God has been considerate of us. God is characterized by love and kindness. God is forgiving and understanding. God is tolerant and accepting. Kindness is giving others a taste of God’s love. It is treating everyone with respect. It is using gentle words even in the most exasperating circumstances. It is providing a helping hand to others.

 

      By performing acts of kindness for others, we are helping to create communities that value generosity of spirit, action, and goodness toward others as essential parts of a healthy society. Random acts of kindness are a means by which we make a deliberate attempt to brighten another person’s day by doing something thoughtful, nice, and caring for them.

      

      You see, we have the God-given power within us to change ourselves and others. Operating in this fruit is a way of showing others that they count and that, even in the face of hostility and selfishness, we are making a stand for kindness.

 “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.”—Jeremiah 9:23, 24

…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.—Ephesians 2:7

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior—Titus 3:4–6

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.—Luke 6:35

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering—Colossians 3:12

“That best portion of a good man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”—William Wordsworth

 “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.”—Mark Twain

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”—Anne Herbert

 “Kindly words do not enter so deeply into men as a reputation for kindness.”—Mencius

“Recompense injury with justice and recompense kindness with kindness.”—Confucius

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”—Albert Schweitzer

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”—Anonymous

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”—Aesop

 

Challenge: Practice kindness this week. Here are some ideas:

  1. Be thoughtful
  2. Use manners
  3. Be generous with compliments
  4. Thank people who make a difference
  5. Cheer up lonely people
  6. Be kind to your colleagues
  7. Send a message to someone
  8. Forgive somebody
  9. Share a smile
  10. Do all this and expect nothing in return