The apostle Paul, while writing to the churches of Galatia, contrasted “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22). “The works of the flesh” are those things from which we should abstain: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like” (Gal. 5:19-21). Paul indicated that “…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). On the other hand, Paul expressed, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Every Christian should produce this “fruit” in his life!
“Love” is much needed in the world. Now do not misunderstand me, I am not speaking of the so-called “love” for which many advocate. Sin is never “love”. Ultimately, “love” is to be demonstrated in two major ways. First of all, we are to “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38). We express this “love” for God by obeying His Word: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Likewise, John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
Secondly, we are to “…love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). Most reasonable people do not seek to do themselves harm. On the contrary, individuals nurture and protect themselves by large. In this sense, we “love” ourselves. This is not meant to be an open door to vanity and self exaltation, but rather this is a common sense appreciation for the life that God has given us. With that being the case, Christians are to “love” their fellow man as they would themselves. This is beautifully exhibited in the account of the Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. This is when the Christian is to “love the sinner” and “hate the sin” (Psm. 119:104). We find “love/charity” marvelously personified in First Corinthians chapter thirteen: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth” (1 Cor. 13:1-8).
Then Paul mentioned that another part of “the fruit of the Spirit” is “joy”. “Joy” is that feeling inside of ourselves when we are happy and/or pleased. For the Christian, “joy” is gained by knowing that his sins are forgiven and that he is going to Heaven. Our “joy” should be so immense that we are able to “Rejoice evermore” (1 Thess. 5:16). That means that when things are going well, we rejoice! “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…” (Phil. 3:1). Also, we are to be “Rejoicing in hope…” (Rom. 12:12). That also means that when things are not going so well, we still rejoice! “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). Likewise, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). Either way, the Christian can echo the sentiments of Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). To be continued…
~ Corey Barnette