When we think of “gentleness”, we should look to the greatest example of such. Paul wrote, “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:” (2 Cor. 10:1). Yes, Jesus was gentle, but that did not negate His strength and authority. We should strive to be gentle like Christ, but also, we must not compromise the truth of God simply for the feelings of others.
The next part of “the fruit of the Spirit” listed by Paul is “goodness”. We should make sure that we define “goodness” the way that God does. What some people consider “good” today, is far from it. Jesus declared, “…Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). God is the epitome of “good”. Nothing He does is “bad” in any way. Therefore, for us to demonstrate and execute “goodness”, we must do things the way that God would do things. Jesus, being God in the flesh, gave us numerous examples of how “goodness” is to be done. Whether it was treating outcasts of society with love and compassion, or whether He was overthrowing the table of the moneychangers, Jesus always did that which God wanted done (John 6:38-46; cf. Matt. 12:50). Therefore, He exhibited “goodness”.
Then Paul listed “faith”. In his dictionary, Vine expressed that “faith” in Galatians 5:22 is concerning the idea of “trustworthiness”. How convinced and convicted are we when it comes to our confidence in God? Christians should be the most “faithful” people on the Earth. We have adequate evidence to trust God in all things (Heb. 11:1). Our sentiments should echo that of the Psalmist, who wrote, “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me” (Psm. 25:1-2). Likewise, “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness” (Psm. 31:1). In contrast, we find, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered” (Prov. 28:26). Instead, one should put “… his trust in the LORD…” (Prov. 28:25).
Mankind would better themselves if they understood, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (Psm. 118:8-9). Just like with “goodness”, Jesus has given us perfect examples of “faith”. In their mockery, the chief priests exclaimed, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matt. 27:43). The “faith” of Jesus was so strong that He trusted His Father all the way to death! To produce “the fruit of the Spirit”, we must be like Paul, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).
Continuing his description, Paul referred to “the fruit of the Spirit” as “meekness”. “Meekness” is not to be confused with weakness. Jesus described Himself as “… meek and lowly in heart…” (Matt. 11:29). I will not accuse my Lord of any weakness! Likewise, Moses was referred to as “…very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Moses was not a weak man either. The best way that I have heard meekness explained is the following: “strength under control”. An example of such is a horse. It is very powerful, yet it can be controlled by man. Christians need to learn how to use their strengths without losing control. Christ proclaimed, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). This in no way means that Christians should be timid or intimidated by the things of the world. Christians need to learn how to use their strengths without losing control.
Finally, Paul defined “the fruit of the Spirit” as “temperance”. That is not a term that we use very much today, but the demonstration of such is something Christians should be routinely doing. “Temperance” is a synonym for self-control. It is very closely associated with “meekness”. Peter listed “temperance” as well in what has been termed as “the Christian graces” (2 Pet. 1:6). It is also one of the qualifications of a bishop in the church (Titus 1:8). If a Christian behaves in such a way as to be “out of control”, it can cause serious issues for the church. Every day, Christians are on examination by the world. If the world sees Christians living in riotous and ungodly ways, then the influence of the church will be greatly hindered. Are we able to say that we are producing “the fruit of the Spirit”? If not, we should strive diligently to bring forth these things in our lives.
~ Corey Barnette