Fruit #9: Self-Control

by Carolyn Hope

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Self-control is the all-encompassing struggle of the soul. The need for self-control comes from the three-part nature of humanity; every person is a spirit with a soul in a body, and there is a battle waging among the three of them. Every human’s body is at odds with his new-born spirit, and his soul (mind, will, and emotions) must decide which voice to listen to. This is where we need self-control.

Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” Self-control is our defense system. Without it, everything will fall apart. Self-control looks temptation in the eye and steadily refuses to give in. It’s the ability to choose what’s right over what you want.

Self-control looks different for every person. To some, self-control means not going into a store with a sale so as to not spend money unnecessarily. For others, self-control is eating a salad instead of pizza. I personally need self-control whenever I go to a bookstore (I am absolutely a book-lover). Self-control will keep you careful in what you watch, wear, eat, say, and do.

One of the greatest tools for growing in self-control is to know what God’s Word says and what your convictions are. Get as much of the Bible in your heart as you can, and it will mold you into a man or woman of discipline. You’ll be able to stand confidently before places and things that once made you weak and remain strong.

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Fruit #8: Gentleness

by Carolyn Hope

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1)

Gentleness may be one of the most misunderstood qualities found in Galatians 5. People often associate a gentle heart with a push-over or a fearful weakling. That’s not what gentleness looks like. Gentleness is actually strong, firm, and influential.

As seen above from Proverbs 15, a word spoken in gentleness “deflects anger.” To deflect means to turn away or aside. Sometimes the impression we’re given of gentleness is that it just takes a beating without fighting back. A more accurate picture would be putting up an impenetrable block. Gentleness protects us from the anger people send at us, and it also sends it another direction.

Gentleness is a paradox of sorts. In choosing not to fight for yourself, you’ll find that you no longer need to fight for yourself. Arguments take two people. If you will humble yourself and not speak (even when you really want to), the fiery discussion or conflict will dissipate. You cannot be gentle without first being strong, for it takes great courage and strength to be still when everything within you wants to protest.

Let the Lord show you His perspective on gentleness, and let Him develop it within your heart. When you choose to be gentle, it will be a great testimony to those around you. Jesus is gentle (see Matthew 11:28-30). He will show you how to be gentle too.

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Fruit #7: Faithfulness

by Carolyn Hope

And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. (Hebrews 3:1-2)

Here in Hebrews, we see two examples of faithfulness: Jesus and Moses. Jesus was faithful to His Father all his life on earth and remains faithful today. Moses likewise was faithful as a shepherd of the Israelites throughout all their wanderings in the wilderness.

Faithfulness is not an instantaneous attribute. It must be built and developed over time. Being faithful starts with day one, then day two, day three, and so on. In order to be faithful, one must make consistent choices. Faithful people are dependable and reliable; the reason they are so is that again and again, they choose to be there when you need them.

You can be faithful by being consistent and steady. Show up to work on time, every day. Keep your word to people; when you say you’ll do something, do it. Deliver your promises in the time frame you said you would. Faithfulness doesn’t require routine, though it often helps. If you’re struggling to be faithful in a certain area, try setting a specific time each day or each week to do what you need to for that. Be encouraged; you have the power to be faithful within you. Jesus, Whose Name is Faithful and True, will guide you in a life of faithfulness.

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Fruit #6: Goodness

by Carolyn Hope

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

The nature of goodness is harder to understand than some of the other fruits we’ve observed; the reason for this is that we use the term ‘good’ for just about anything. When someone asks us how our vacation was, we say, ‘good.’ When asked how a person is doing or feeling, the most common response is ‘good.’ We are good people who watch good movies, eat good food, and have good days at work.

The Hebrew word for ‘good’ in this passage, and in general, is ‘tuv.’ According to Strong’s Lexicon, it means “good in the widest sense” and can also mean “beauty, gladness, [or] welfare.”

The greatest goodness is God Himself. Exodus 33 recounts an example of this: “The Lord replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.’ Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh …’” (verses 17-19). Our Lord walks in goodness, speaks in goodness, and brings His goodness everywhere He goes.

My encouragement to you in growing in goodness is to pursue knowing God. The more you know Him, the more you’ll behave like Him; and as you become more like God, you will be full of goodness. Another way to achieve this is to study the Word. See what it says is good, and then do those things. Creativity is good (see Genesis 1). Companionship is good (see Genesis 2:18). Compassion is good (see Psalm 145:9 and Isaiah 63:7). As you follow after Christ, you will grow in goodness.

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Fruit #5: Kindness

by Carolyn Brucks

“I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” (Ruth 2:13)

The short book of Ruth, comprised of only 4 chapters, is full of many instances of kindness. Ruth herself was a character of kindness, taking good care of her mother-in-law, Naomi, even after Naomi’s husband and two sons (one of whom was Ruth’s husband) died. When Naomi took Ruth with her to Israel, God brought Boaz, a very kind man, to watch out for them. He provided for them both, and he protected Ruth. The relationship between Ruth and Boaz was very beautiful, a tender exchange of kindnesses.

There is a gentleness to kindness. In a world of screams, kindness is a whisper, soft and sweet. Like a pleasant breeze, kindness is often unseen, but still effective. Yes, it’s true that kindness can be unappreciated many times. Do not, however, underestimate the power of kindness. Titus 3:4-5 says, “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Your very salvation is a revelation, a revealing, of God’s kindness toward you. Kindness will move people to do outrageous things and give what is undeserved.

Dare to be kind today. Let your heart be caring and considerate of others. When you see someone has a need, quietly fill it. What you do may seem simple or small, but remember, your kindness is powerful. How can you help someone today?

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Fruit #4: Patience

by Carolyn Hope

Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones. (Proverbs 25:15)

Patience is often underrated, especially among a people or culture that is always hustling and bustling. We live in a world where opportunities can come and go in a flash, and in some ways, the advancement in technology has fostered an impatient atmosphere. We microwave meals, watch TV instantly on our computers, and drive 70 miles per hour on highways.

In such modern realities, patience can be seen as trivial, or even as weakness. “If you wait too long, you’ll miss your chance,” society whispers. “Act quickly before it’s too late!” The reality is that patience is extremely important, and patience is not weakness. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he wrote, “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” (1:11). It actually takes strength and the power of God to be patient!

Your patience is powerful. Patience has the ability to persuade people who normally wouldn’t budge. You can live patiently, for Holy Spirit living within you is the most patient one of all. When you follow Him, you will produce patience. Patience is not a feeling, but a conscientious decision. You may feel like screaming on the inside, but you can still choose to act in patience. Keep seeking Jesus, and ask Him to help you. He’ll teach you.

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Fruit #3: Peace

by Carolyn Hope

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. (Romans 5:1)

In a crazy world full of chaos, it can be a challenge to find peace. Often our first response to the storms that come against us is to panic and cry out for God to get us out of there! There is a peace available to us, however, and that peace comes to us through the Prince of Peace Himself.

When Jesus lived, died, and rose from the grave for us, He made a way for peace to enter our lives. We now have a secure standing before God, and peace is a beautiful by-product of that.

If you find yourself starting to worry or be stressed, remember who you are and Whose you are. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” As you turn your focus to your Father, He will give you a peace that surpasses your understanding (Phil. 4:7). Reach out and take hold of the peace that is already yours.

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Fruit #2: Joy

by Carolyn Hope

Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)

Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes during the Babylonian captivity of the Israelites. Some of the Jews had been allowed to return to Jerusalem, but the city was in disarray and broken down. The walls and gates were diminished to rubble. When Nehemiah received reports of the city’s deteriorated state, he wept at the news. He spent much time mourning and praying to God for Jerusalem. Then he developed a plan, and with the king’s permission and a determined heart, he set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In just 52 days, the walls and gates were restored.

Nehemiah shares the secret to his success when he told the Israelites in Jerusalem, “the joy of the Lord is your strength!” We frequently quote this phrase to loved ones who are down or weary. In order to truly understand this sentence, however, we must first realize the context of what Nehemiah went through. When he heard of Jerusalem’s condition, he was not ‘joyful’; rather, his heart was broken, and he cried for his city. Then, Nehemiah rose up, and throughout the rest of the story, he walked with confidence and encouragement. What caused the transformation? From his declaration mentioned above, it can only be one thing: a joy that comes from the Lord Himself.

Joy is not the same as happiness. Read the book of Nehemiah, and you’ll see that the journey to rebuilding Jerusalem wasn’t an easy or pleasant one. There were many opportunities for Nehemiah to experience all sorts of negative emotions; and most likely, he did. He never let his circumstances or feelings deter him from his work. That is what joy is. It’s the power to overcome the negative emotions you experience and to press forward to do what you know God has called you to do. It is the choice to keep going as if everything is as it should be, so that everything will be what it needs to be. It’s the refusal to be hindered by what other people say, what you think, or how you feel.

Whether or not you feel ‘happy’ is not what determines your joy. You must choose joy, regardless of how you feel. Your joy isn’t based in emotions or circumstances, but in the love of your Father, a love that is always steady. You can have joy in every season, test, or trial, because Jesus is with you, and He will give you His joy.

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Fruit #1: Love

by Carolyn Hope

We know what real love is because Jesus gave his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 4:16)

The Bible speaks a lot about love. There are numerous examples of God’s love and people’s love for one another. The New Testament gives us instruction to love each other, and some passages give us details on how to do that. 1 Corinthians 13 is the famous ‘love chapter,’ in which Paul beautifully describes the attributes of love. Here is an excerpt from that Scripture: “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. … love will last forever!” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).

The most principle and extravagant example we are given of love is Jesus Himself. 1 John tells us that God is love. Therefore, everything that Jesus did was done from a place of love for us. His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension all speak of His love. Jesus gave up everything for us, sacrificing all for our sake. This is what the truest, deepest love looks like; it’s a radical, selfless surrender on behalf of someone else.

The Lord created you from love, for love, to love. In order to love others well, you must first understand you are loved by God. His love for you is deep, wide, long, and high; it’s immeasurable. You can love others by sacrificing yourself for others. Such sacrifices, whether small or large, are often difficult, but as your love grows for a person, choosing the best for them becomes easier. Learning to love is a journey. Whatever place you are right now, rest in the love of your good Father and as you do, He’ll teach you to love the people in your life.

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The Fruit of The Spirit

by Carolyn Hope

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)

Galatians is an incredible book which speaks of our freedom in Christ. In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul gives us a description of what a Spirit-filled believer will live like. Specifically, there are nine main types of ‘fruit’ that Holy Spirit brings. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Over the next two weeks, I’d like to take a look at each individual ‘fruit.’ As a son or daughter of the Most High King, you have the power within you to produce each of these. Holy Spirit inside of you will teach you how to walk in them. These are not unattainable attributes that you’ll never be able to live up to; rather, they are who God made you to be. When Jesus made you a new creation, He saw you as becoming these characteristics. He believed that you could be defined by these qualities; I believe you can too.

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