As I mentioned then, they offered many rewards, that’s why we’ll take this edition of “Becoming Today” to determine if you’re getting your daily recommended fruits.
The gifts we talked about were those given to all through the Holy Spirit. As outlined in 1st Corinthians 12:8–10 these are the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
They all have a multitude of real world applications and benefits for our lives.Now not everyone receives them all, and seldom would I say do many even receive multiple of them at the same time. That’s fine. No two of us are the same nor are our individual needs at the same moment in time.
Another thing about the gifts of the Spirit is that they are in a much more positive sense, lol, the true gifts that keep on giving.
They are available to those who believe, throughout their lives, no matter how many times you need them or are needed to help deliver them. The rewards of receiving them also are long lasting, perhaps even infinite.
So now that you’ve had time to digest Tuesday’s discussion, let’s go ahead and harvest the Fruits of the Spirit.
Let’s first take a bite out of what is meant by a “fruit”.
From the early Scriptural languages of Aramic, Greek and Hebrew there are multiple words for these fruits. Some vary by the usage in a sentence and by the intended context of the speaker.
Remember much of what is considered scriptural writing came from oral traditions and others writing down what they heard from accepted prophets, speakers, teachers and witnesses.
So a fruit can range from being productive or fruitful to the consequences of the physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual actions (PIES) we choose to act upon. That includes a range of harvesting abundance to reaping what you have sown.
Understanding these differences may help enlighten some of the concepts for you. It adds to our common understanding and aids our ability to speak to one another.
The most widely taught lessons instruct about the nine Fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Though older translations and the present day Catholic teaching include 12, while some newer perspectives shorten the list to seven.
For the purposes of our conversation, I’ll discuss the nine, and then add the additional three which some theologians and self identified Bible scholars contend are virtues rather than fruits.
But aren’t virtues in themselves a reward?
I’d say the results of virtuous living are extremely beneficial.
Beginning with the nine they are:
While even an initial scan of the list I believe offers some rewarding insights let’s take a closer look at each one.
Love is something we discuss a lot. That’s because it is so important and the basis of our relationship with our Creator, after all He is love. There are many types of love, each with their own benefits.
We recently focused on this in our ongoing Thursday series involving the “8 Points of Light” that the importance of were stressed to me through revelation knowledge. Re-illuminated during “My Revival” trip last summer which layered the path of my life dramatically and even resulted in “My Relocation”.
To do a deep dive into the rewards and types of love you can revisit our recent post, “Illuminating 8.5: Perhaps The Greatest…”. For now I’ll just refer to the four types of love identified by C.S. Lewis:
C.S .Lewis, some six decades ago, in a then controversial book outlined “The Four Loves”:
Storge – empathy bond.
Philia – friend bond.
Eros – romantic love.
Agape – unconditional “God” love.
They all play a role in our lives and our individual paths of “Becoming Today”.
Briefly here is a description of Lewis’ concept. Consider it an ultra-mini, micro book report.
Storge – The empathy bond
Involves connecting with someone through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people who relate in similar ways. This includes the natural love and affection of a parent for their child.
Affection, Lewis,considered it responsible for 90 percent of lasting human happiness.
Philia – Friend Bond
Philia, like Storge, as well as the other forms of love he mentions are Greek words. This Philia is the love between friends who become as close as siblings. Friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common values, interests or activities. Lewisy differentiates friendship love from the other loves, teaching it is “the least biological, organic, instinctive, gregarious and necessary” of the natural loves. Yet it is a higher-level love because it is freely chosen and grows from a root of compassionate companionship.
Eros – Romantic Love
Eros is the sense of “being in love” or “loving” someone, as opposed to sexual love.
Eros, Lewis believed transforms the need for erotic pleasure into the most appreciative of all contenements, warning against the modern tendency for Eros to become a false god to people who fully submit themselves to it, serving as a justification for selfishness, even what he termed a “phallic religion”.
Agape – Unconditional “God” love
Agape is defined as Charity. It is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances. Lewis recognizes this selfless love as the greatest of the four loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue to achieve. He focused on the need to subordinate the other three categories. Lewis wrote, “The natural loves are not self-sufficient “– to the love of God; who is full of charitable love.
Having an understanding of the differing types of love allows us to make informed decisions and hopefully better choices. Self-enhancement involves making a decision. You make the choice to have a positive rather than negative self-view.
The next of the Fruits of the Spirit involves Joy.
This reward involves your free will. You must make a decision, then act upon it. Joy is given freely, but only you can choose to accept it, embrace it and share it.
When you are feeling less than joyful, it’s a conscious decision for you to take the necessary action to foster the growth of Joy inside you. That’s where it resides. It’s not a destination, it’s more than an attitude.
Joy is power, a strength and a reward that exists within each of us. It’s our individual responsibility to nurture it , co-create it and share it.
It is through how we choose to react to obstacles, circumstances and life in general as to how we do or do not experience joy. No one can truly take it away from you. Only you can prevent yourself from experiencing it.
Joy is extremely important to overcoming tests and trials as well as on our path of “Becoming” as it is through joy that we lead ourselves out of the darkness with Peace. Joy is one of the tools we are equipped with, to aid us in finding our answers, solutions, authentic lives and to “Becoming” our destiny.
Third on today’s list is Peace. Another of the elements we’ve shared in the eight points of light.
Peace can have many meanings. From the dictionary among the offering of definitions are:
-a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. Synonyms include law and order, lawfulness, harmony, and accord,.
-a ceremonial handshake or kiss exchanged during a service in some churches, symbolizing Christian love and unity.
Plus the one I find most beneficial for our common understanding:
– freedom from disturbance; tranquility. Similarly described as calm, calmness and restfulness.
Being free from distractions, harassment, annoyances and chains that bind us to past realities and circumstances certainly creates in us the space to manifest a place for and an overall attitude of being peaceful.
The concept of remaining calm or at peace, and the teaching of it have been with us for centuries. In the Scriptures we find,:
Isaiah 7:4 “Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart…”
Exodus 14:14 “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute”.
Plus there are many more. We also know that we are called to reflect (meditate, ponder), remain calm, be peaceful (filled with peace), and at rest. No dozing off here; in the Word we understand that “at rest” is at times defined as “to be quiet or tranquil, as the mind; not to be agitated by fear, anxiety or other passion.”
During a time of peaceful reflection and being at rest, I was led into a study of what it means to live C.A.L.M.
It certainly was a tranquil repose of solitude, when I meditated upon enjoying the moment. Seizing the present I achieved a mindfulness that took me within thinking, contemplating, meditating and praying and then repeating it all again ( and several more times again). It was in this introspective instance that the following acronyms kept filling my mind as well as my journal page.
See if you can find a common thread in this stream of consciousness:
Now coming from a place where you are more content, approaching all things, people, situations from a place of peace and remaining calm, it’s time to keep that momentum building… both forward and upward!
Coming in at number four of our countdown of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit is Patience.
Who doesn’t need this one? It’s not only a reward when I receive it and choose to act upon it but learning to be patient is an ongoing lesson, especially when it comes to being patient with myself.
This is another of life’s lessons pointing to my belief that those of us on this shared adventure of “Becoming Today”, need to trust the timing.
Time and time again, I gave testimony to things working out at the very moment I needed it the most. More often than not, circumstances have improved, beyond what I had limited myself to expecting, or at times even hoping for.
After a while I could no longer be in denial of it. Despite a battle of impatience, if I continue in faith and trust, at the very least my needs, hopes and dreams are delivered – often exceeded beyond what I had prayed for.
That is why I operate in a different timezone than the map may have me limited to. Gone are my restricted windows of CST, my clocks are set to G.S.T. – God’s Standard Time.
It builds character, develops stamina and promises deliverance. For all and in all things. Everything is possible. The key is to trust. Trust God and trust his timing.
Does that mean everything happens when I want it to, or think it should?
Sure I experience delays, Argue with myself over whether or not I’m being too patient, but time and time again I have come to know that when I do I’m just adding to the length of time it will take to “find” what I was searching for.
We may not fully understand the plans,purpose or promise God has for us, nonetheless He has appointed a time for all. For all things, for all people. That includes you and I.
Next is Kindness.
More than a simple emotion of being nice, in these terms it involves acting for the good of people regardless of what they do. It involves being sweet natured with a compassionate and respectful disposition, being gentle when dealing with others as well as acting patiently with benevolence and affability.
Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. It also includes the attributes described in 2nd Corinthians 6:6-7, to live in an attitude of kindness suggests we should embrace purity, understanding, and here comes patience again…(audibly giggling).
In specific terms of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit it allows us to give and receive sincere love; encourages and supports us in truthful speech and provides us with “weapons of righteousness”.
The latter may not sound too kind, but its purpose is to offer us a strong means of defense. By living armed with righteousness, we further develop our common understanding.
I believe we should accept the term as meaning to always be trying to do good, be just and correct, pus what is in accord with the Lord’s will.
Those who live righteously are not to consider themselves better than others or try to enforce an air of superiority. We should always be “Becoming” humble, loving and at peace.
Number six is Goodness.
An inherent quality, a part of our nature from the time of creation it can be summed up with these explanations:
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.
It does require a choice on our parts though to ensure that we are receiving and digesting this fruit properly.
I am reminded of the Cherokee teaching of The Two Wolves Inside.
The short version is a grandfather telling a young boy about the two wolves that live inside each of us. They are engaged in a constant battle . One is good. The other evil. The child asks, which wolf wins,and the sage elder replies, “whichever one you choose to feed”.
A question we must ask ourselves daily. Which are we choosing to feed?
That leads us to Generosity.
Giving affords us the opportunities to grow, learn and Always Be Becoming. Here are some examples of the benefits of embracing a giving spirit:
Giving Allows Happiness To Blossom
Not only will the recipient of your gift or actions feel happier, so will you.
A 2017 study found that those who chose to make generous choices had a greater increase in levels of happiness. The researchers reported, “Economics, psychology, biology and philosophy have attempted to elucidate possible motives of generous behaviour. Proposed motives, such as helping kin, reciprocation or reputation, have limited explanatory power for the pervasive propensity of humans to be generous in different settings. One further explanation for generous behaviour is its link to happiness. The warm glow experienced when acting for the benefit of others has been proposed as a mechanism that reinforces generous behaviour in humans.”
Helping Others Is Healthy
The benefits of generosity extend beyond emotional benefits. Medical researchers have known for nearly a decade there is a direct connection between volunteering and improved physical health. A team at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who give their time to serve others are 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.
Generosity Is a Positive Pandemic
Giving is the gift that keeps on giving. Every act of selfless giving can potentially create a ripple widespread, prevalent outbreak of giving that can rapidly and unexpectedly become prevalent around the globe.l
Giving Fosters Personal Growth
Gratitude can become the attitude for both the giver and the recipient. Giving keeps people more connected.Which leads to improved trust and cooperation between individuals and diverse groups.Generosity can teach. It may help you find or redefine your life’s purpose, calling or adding new meaning to your experience of living. Becoming a giver can cause you to become more compassionate, which when shared is an act of generosity in itself.
Number eight is Faithfulness. This fruit grows from nurturing several seeds.
Fidelity, loyalty, constancy, devotion, trueness, true-heartedness, dedication, commitment, allegiance, adherence, dependability, reliability, trustworthiness, staunchness, steadfastness, closeness, strictness, fairness, truth, truthfulness, veracity and authenticity, to name a few.
Faithfulness is the fact or quality of being true to one’s word or commitments, as to what one has pledged to do, and what one professes to believe.
It is “walking the talk” and making your life your sermon.
It involves honest actions that reveal and share our character and integrity, by their acts you shall know them and by their fruits you will recognize them.
As I write this I’m suddenly recalling a song by the band Journey. Perhaps because it will allow me an excuse to include another musical interlude or because these lyrics of the song “Faithfully” ring true when adapted and applied to our spiritual relationships:
“I’m forever yours
I’m still yours
I’m forever yours
Next on the list is Gentleness. Which Merriam Webster’s tells us since the 14th Century has been understood as “the quality or state of being gentle especially : mildness of manners or disposition”
Too often the world uses meek focusing on being submissive and equating that to being weak. However that couldn’t be further from the Truth. Yes Truth – with a capital “T”.
In the Scriptures we learn about the strengths of being meek, and the rewards we can be expectant of for our obedience.
In Matthew 5:5, you can read, “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth”.
Taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, this verse is one of the Beatitudes. Simply defined beatitude as an extreme form of happiness. “The noun beatitude refers to a state of great joy. Being blessed, or at least feeling blessed, is often linked to beatitude.”
Beatitude comes to us from the Latin word beatus, defined as being both “happy” and “blessed.” In the Bible, the Beatitudes are a series of eight blessings.” Some sources indicate that in the late 1950’s writer Jack Kerouac came up with the nickname “The Beat Generation ” because he felt its members, referred to as “Beatniks” , were individuals seeking beatitude.
Jesus used the term meekness in the Beatitudes, as a description of those who were blessed, not those who were timid, weak or push overs. His use of the word was in line with the term-gentleness, and used as an impetus for trusting God to win the battle instead of taking extremes into our own hands to attempt to win on our own terms.
The concept of being meek is often described as “strength under control”.
Having the ability to temper our emotions, remain patient, steadfast in our faith and trust. Now that’s extremely bold behavior given some of the tests we face on a daily basis.
And the countdown rolls on. At number nine is Self-Control.
I just heard a few “uh-ohhs”. It can be tough but we all have the ability to remain in control of ourselves, our emotions, our thoughts, our mouths, our actions and our reactions.
Self-control, restraint, tolerance all come easier when we are able to move beyond anger and be more patient. Hmm ..wasn’t patience also on the list? An interconnection of the various species of fruits is prevalent.
The translation of the Greek word used in Galatians 5:23 comes from “enkrateia“, meaning “strong, having mastery, able to control one’s thoughts and actions.”
It again is a choice. We have the innate ability and must make the decision to use it for the greater good.
Decisions are something that apparently more than a few people have trouble with. As I often have shared, I belong to the schools of thought that teach,….
What happens when you make a decision?
Either it works. Or it doesn’t
Makes perfect sense to me, but I have been witness to firsthand to many instances where some have had significant struggles. They tend to get caught up in “analysis paralysis” and dive head first down every rabbit hole they can, stop, has a cup of coffee with Bugs Bunny and then return exhausted crying, “I can’t get started!”
But you can when you exercise self control. When you choose not to focus on the things you can not control and instead decide to accept the other fruits including peace, gentleness, patience, joy and love and see how they all work together in the manner they were intended- for your ultimate good.
As I mentioned many teach the nine we’ve discussed so far as the full list, however what I’ll call the unabridged edition includes three more, which I think you’ll see are not only of benefit for us, work along with the others though the last one can be a challenge.
The first is Charity.
Yes I know we discussed Generosity, however charity is a bit different. That’s because as part of the dictionary definition explains, charity involves “kindness and tolerance in judging others”, it also includes kindness and treating those you share with, with C.D.R.
That’s an acronym I’ve taught for years. It came about as I blurted out the basic concept in an argument with some very inconsiderate and pretentious psychiatrists who were not treating a patient with any of the three letters.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you have or have not been through, these three are constants in life. They are three common things every person on this earth wants, and deserves to be treated with.
The tough part for some is that they do not understand that in order to receive them, you must give them freely, at all times. That’s where being charitable comes in.
Charity is more than an act of giving, it is an attitude of being loving, sympathetic and helpful. It is indeed a virtue and one I find to definitely be “fruit” worthy.
The next concept is Modesty. The quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities. It is the opposite of boastfulness, involving not being prideful, instead embracing a reserved nature of gentleness, meekness and unpretentiousness.
Given the state of our culture today I feel this is one that needs to be emphasized, highlighted and taught far more often.
And the final in the extended 12 “Fruits of the Spirit” is another that requires a forbearance attitude, remaining steadfast, patient and truly being able to love love as it was intended. It’s also the one you may not want to talk about.
It has been a challenge at times in my life so I certainly understand that. This is the fruit of “Chastity”.
This involves giving us the ability to overcome the flesh. It is the submission of physical desire subjugating it to one’s spiritual nature. Chastity means indulging our physical desires only within the appropriate contexts.
We are given the strength and knowledge to choose right, it just gets back to those pesky decisions to opt to select the option that is for our ultimate good, rather than in the what of the moment.
Whether you opt for the list of nine, the 12 or for some reason want to shorten your list, the Fruits of the Spirit should instill a sense of victory.
They are evidence that we can overcome, that we can all continue along our own walks on the shared path.
Remember what they are intended to be. The benefits of gifts received. They are to be accepted, embraced, shared and treasured. In choosing to do so, this moment just got so much better for all of us.
Tomorrow make sure you stop by for even more on the next edition of “Becoming Today”.