HOME PAGE   |   CONTACT PAGE   |   OUR CALENDAR 

OUR SITE MAP ... DOZENS OF BIBLE STUDY PAGES

RECENT MEETINGS

 STANDING WITH THE BAGWELLS 

 
 

To e-mail, call or write the Bagwells, just visit our "Contact" Page.

 
 

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT!

Paul's synopsis of the whole Christian Life, in just nine wholesome words!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

Galatians 5:22-23

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

Today we begin to study one of Paul's most splendid statements ever! Nearly the whole Christian life condensed into nine beautiful words, what an accomplishment.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Word for word, Galatians 5:22-23.

The very use of the noun "fruit" is interesting. Notice he did not call these traits the "work" of the Holy Spirit!

"Karpos" is used 66 times in Scripture, never being translated any other way than "fruit." The scholars think it derives from the verb "harpazo," meaning "to pick" something. More strongly, "to seize, to carry off," even if by force! "To pluck, to catch away!" It's really the verb for "rapture" or "caught up" in Paul's great First Thessalonians 4:13-18 passage.

"Fruit" is a living commodity!

This more than suggests that it results from a union of two entities. Yes, the Holy Spirit and the human heart! A human being whom the Spirit can inhabit, at the point of the person's salvation. Then after "moving in," the Spirit fills and directs and molds that individual's life, sharing the very Life of God, and thereby producing the "fruit" Paul is soon to identify and enumerate.

It's the living "offspring" of a healthy life with God the Third Person, God the Holy Ghost, this "fruit" is.

And why do we have such fruit?

So someone else can "pluck" it and enjoy! Thereby it becomes a "witness" for the cause of Christ, our lovely Saviour!

Or so that our "fruit filled" lives, when we're growing spiritually anyway, can be alluring testimonies of Jesus and His Love and Joy and Peace and Longsuffering ... and five more!

And I guess this too. So that we ourselves can enjoy the sweetness and pleasantness and utility of this luscious fruit!

And of course, full orbed fruit for you and me, just to glorify the One Who saved us from our sins.

Fruit!

First, for the Lord.

Then for others.

Last, even for myself.

But do notice, and I repeat, "self" is last.

Oh Lord, give us a "bumper" crop!

Which means "extraordinarily large!"

But keep in mind now, this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not the fruit of Dr. Mike Bagwell or anyone else.

The more I have of Him, the Spirit.

Filled to the brim! "Pleroo" here means "to pour to the fullest," perhaps even overflowing a bit!

The more I yield to Him!

The more I let Him control me and lead me and love me ... I'm thinking, the more like Him I will be! The more like Jesus too! Jesus who was the fruit of the Spirit personified! A walking Fruit Tree!

Wow!

Let's all memorize this short list, these two little verses. Such a deed will bring handsome rewards! "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance."

These next few days could be very beneficial to each of us as Christians. As we learn about the "fruit" that's potentially going to be developing in our lives. Progressively so, more and more each year.

Don't miss tomorrow!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, LOVE:

The first of nine glorious words. Nouns powerful enough to change the whole world! To alter the course of human behavior! To right many a wrong! To impact politics and education and medicine and religion and everything else!

Our word today is "love," but here again is the whole list. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance."

Wow!

"Love" is spelled "agape" in Greek. Some teachers think it might be based on a little adjective, "agan," meaning "much!" In other words, God's love is abundant, inexhaustible, infinite! Then, it will never be depleted!

Paul uses "agape" here for "love" when he indeed had other choices. The Greeks had a very precise language. Possessing at least three other words for love, three of which I am aware.

"Eros" was available. But it means "physical love," you know, the sexual kind. Touching and feeling and all the rest. But this word "slipped" into some questionable activities, and does not even appear in the New Testament as a result. A person filled with the Holy Spirit can be a great "lover," in the physical sense I still mean, but that's not Paul's main emphasis here. Truth be told, I strongly suspect that Spirit-filled godly people make the best "lovers!" But they do so in a Biblical manner! With their own wife or husband! Enough of that!

"Philia" was accessible to Paul as well. "Philos" simply means a "friend." This is love, but on a human level. It can be noble and unselfish and objective time and time again, but it can also get a little unbalanced too! "I'll be kind to you, as long as you're kind to me!" That kind of thing can grammatically still be classified as "philia." But this won't work for Paul, not as a fruit of the Holy Spirit! Too unstable.

Then there was "storge" love. This is totally used, as far as I can tell, for "love for one's kin."  Family love, brother to brother, sister to sister, children for Mom or Dad. So Paul needs a wider-ranging word, the Holy Spirit being capable of working with everyone, not just folks in functional families!

So, what's Paul to do?

He will adopt the word Jesus used for Love! And just where did Jesus get "agape?" I am telling you, He basically "recycled" it! Well, maybe I should say "sanctified" it!

You can hardly find "agape" in ancient Greek literature, until Jesus made it so very special! Then it's to Jesus, to the New Testament we must go to locate its meaning, the "context" of agape.

The "easy" answer is to send us all to First Corinthians 13, that great paragraph about love. It's not a definition of "agape" nearly as much as a description of it really. And its older words need defining quite often as well. Still, just to give you "sample." Paul is really using "agape" where our Bible has "charity," saying: "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." Isn't that beautiful? One of the most sublime pieces of literature ever written, of all time!

And the Holy Spirit can cause me to act like that? Well really, He jumps inside you, takes over, and then He acts like that, using your mind and will and emotions and body in the process!

Agape, the fruit of the Spirit!

Still, I'd like to share with you a few other verses. But I think I'll wait until tomorrow. It won't hurt a thing to spend two lessons on this amazing Love. God's Love, Jesus' Love, deep down in our hearts! Bubbling out all over us! Onto everyone who passes by!

Makes me want to get out of the way! To turn my life over to Him, the Holy Spirit! And let Him get busy, reprogramming the "controls" of my little computer! That's called "renewing one's mind" for you Biblicists!

Jesus prayed an outstanding thing in John 17:26. It's revolutionary! "Father, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them"

God's Love, in me!

It's in you too my Christian friend!

The very Love God had for Jesus, that supreme quality and intensity and purity, living deep down in my soul!

And if that prayer gets answered, Jesus never prayed one that didn't, that kind of once-in-a-universe LOVE cannot stay dormant!

It will burst forth!

And I will be, you too, loving everyone in sight! Hah, loving folks I've never even seen too!

With the kind of love that is always kind and never gets impatient and does not pout! Or brag on itself! It believes the best about its object, and doubts the worst, until proven wrong. It can put up with anything too, never losing hope! And lastly, Paul said, it will never cease!

With agape love, you can never "fall out" of it, because you didn't ever "fall into" it in the first place!

It "moved in" you the moment you were saved!

And guess what? It will never "move out" either, as far as I can see, all the way though eternity! As long as you have the Holy Ghost, which is an absolutely eternal relationship!

Now let's go folks.

Let's get our day, or the rest of our day, started by going out and loving somebody. The Jesus way I mean!

It's easy. Let the dear Holy Spirit "rule" you life today, and then simply follow the instructions He puts on your "screen!" I mean "in you mind and heart, or wherever your "screen" is!

Wow!

What Love!

The number one "mark" of the Believer in Jesus Christ! Our Lord will close our Lesson today. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35, where of course "love" translates "agape."

Thank You, Jesus.

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, LOVE AGAIN:

The word "agape," translated "love" eighty-six times in the New Testament, is a special "creation" of God! Nearly as much as the sun and moon were, back in Genesis chapter one!

To define "agape," the first mentioned "fruit of the Spirit," one does not need a Greek lexicon as much as a Bible concordance. We're going to let the Scriptures "teach" us today. The Holy Spirit is the best Wordsmith ever!

First these general observations.

Agape love is unselfish love. It never centers itself on the "lover," but always on the "loved one."

Agape love is not dependent on the "reaction" or "response" it gets from its "target," its "loved one!" It will keep on being kind and gentle and hopeful, regardless of the way it's received! God loved us while we were yet sinners! Even as we were rejecting and perhaps even cursing Him!

Agape love gets involved with folks who may not even be "lovely" themselves! Never before had the ancients heard of such a thing! Loving anybody, "whosoever" one might say!

And agape love is not "on again, off again!" It is consistent. Eternal in one sense of the word. That's because it is birthed out of the very Heart of God!

Now to the Scriptures!

Romans 5:5, the source of agape love, how we possessed it in the first place!  "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." The underlined verb is "ekcheo," meaning "poured out, gushed out!" The dear Holy Spirit filled us up! At the very moment of salvation, to the brim! With agape love! If you're saved, it's down in there! In your heart, just let it loose!

Romans 13:10, agape love carries no grudges! "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour." The verb worked is identical to our word "energizes." And "ill" means "harm." Or as an adjective, injurious or destructive!

First Corinthians 13:13, agape love is the greatest of the Christian graces! That's why it is listed first in the cluster of traits we call the fruit of the Spirit! "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." The word is "meizon," means "stronger" and even "older," as well as "greater!"

First Corinthians 14:1, the practice of agape is not automatic though! The verb "follow" means "to chase after something! "Follow after charity." Relentlessly pursue agape, "run" after it! "Dioko" represents such fervent pursuit that it's often translated "persecute" in the New Testament! Every day, striving to "love," Jesus' way!

Now that we have the "feel" of verses like these, I'm just going to show your the Scripture itself. I may have to comment a little here and there.

1 Corinthians 16:14, "Let all your things be done with charity." In everything we do, "agape" must be involved! "Done" means "to be birthed into existence!"

2 Corinthians 5:14, "For the love of Christ constraineth us." The verb means "to hold together!" No love, no Christian life. It's the "glue!"

Galatians 5:6, "Faith which worketh by love." No love, no faith either!

Ephesians 3:17, "Being rooted and grounded in love." It's the very "soil" in which we grow!

Ephesians 4:15, "But speaking the truth in love." Even in our words? Love is never so "mushy and soft" that it fails to be truthful, to be honest!

Philippians 1:9, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more." Where "abound" means "to increase more and more," to get "out of the banks," as does a river when it floods!

Colossians 2:2, "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love." Being "fused together, then growing that way," as does a broken bone when it's "set" by the doctor!

Colossians 3:14, "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." This "bond" is our "belt," which holds everything in place. As you dress every morning, symbolically put on charity, agape love, too! I know a preacher who really does this, mentally, every day!

1 Thessalonians 1:3, "Remembering without ceasing your labour of love." Agape love works like crazy, never quits, feverishly!

1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all evil." Some things are not to be loved!

1 Peter 1:22, "See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." The adverb "fervently," means "with a stretched out hand," exerting great effort!

1 John 4:17, "Herein is our love made perfect." Just this, agape love can be matured, meaning "to reach its goal!"

1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." Real agape love, no fear of God. No fear of just about anything else either, except sin! But a person with no real love, he generally has nothing left but fear and worry and fretting!

1 John 4:19, "We love him, because he first loved us." That's why!

2 John 1:6, "And this is love, that we walk after His commandments." There is linkage here! We enjoy pleasing the One we love!

Jude 1:21, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." The Ephesians once "left" their first love! But it is retrievable! "Keep" here means "to carefully attend to" something!

And then Revelation 3:19, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Even "agape" love can be "tough!" It can be corrective, disciplinarian in nature. But always for the ultimate "good" of the recipient.

Lots of Verses!

Not all of them will lodge in our memories today.

But some will!

Practice the ones the Holy Spirit "burns" into you heart! The learn some more, and do them too!

The Holy Spirit, Love Producer!

Love Manufacturer!

It's His Priority!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance." See what's first? Galatians 5:22-23, our Text again tomorrow, Lord willing.

Lord, fill us with Thy Love!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell 

 

 

LESSON 4, JOY:

Let's study the word "joy."

As it's presented in its Galatians 5:22-23 context. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance."

The noun for joy, the actual word Paul would have written, is "chara." It basically means "gladness." One Preacher explained it this way: "Joy is just love, agape love, when it is smiling!"

I like that!

He also believed peace was love when it was "resting."

Back to "chara."

The New Testament concept of "joy" is linked to a root verb, "chairo." Technically this just means "to rejoice, to be glad." But it was also the word the Greeks used to greet one another. For example, "farewell," that's just "chairo!" So is the vocative "Greetings." Even "hail," as if in hello!  The first words they spoke each morning to passing friends was one of "wished joy!"

But even further, "chara," which is "joy," and "chairo," which is "to be glad," are related to the word "charis," a noun. You can even see certain alphabetical similarities.

But what does "charis" mean?

It's the New Testament word for "grace!"

Let's see, numerically "joy" is used 59 times in our Testament, that's "chara." Then "rejoice" or "chairo" is found 74 times. But "grace" even more, 156 times. We're going by Greek word counts now, not English.

Think about it. "Joy" is a first cousin to "grace!" They grew up together! You know why we can have joy? An essential prerequisite to joy?

God's amazing grace!

He loves me. Thus, I can rejoice!

He has saved me! I can, and will, be glad!

He answers my prayers! More reasons for joy!

Grace produces joy!

If I ever lose sight of the Grace of God ... I will in turn lose my joy!

Joy must have have grace to fuel it!

It can't survive without it.

Then, when I am overflowing with God's Grace, with the conscious awareness of how very good God has been to me, I can rejoice anywhere! Under just about any set of circumstances too!

For example ...

Here's the first time the word "joy" is found in the New Testament, as "chara" anyway. "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." Matthew 2:10, when Jesus was born! He will bring joy!

Just knowing Jesus is alive, raised from the dead, brings joy! "And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word." Matthew 28:8, a group of godly ladies!

The preached Word of God can certainly bring us joy or gladness! "And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness." Mark 4:16, the only time "chara" is used in Mark!

Answered prayer brings joy, says Jesus! "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." In John 16:24.

It's possible to "help" other people with joy! Paul thought so anyway."Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand." 2 Corinthians 1:24, "sunergos," meaning "fellow energizers!"

In some ways as Christians we can make each other more joyful. "Fulfil ye my joy." Philippians 2:2

Other Christians can, in some sense, become sources of our joy! First Thessalonians 2:20 tells us so. "For ye are our glory and joy."

Even Jesus was motivated somehow by Joy. On the Cross, of all places! "Looking unto Jesus, Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Wow, Hebrews 12:2.

It's even possible, by the Holy Spirit's Power, to still possess joy even when going through great trials and pressures. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations." James 1:2

Holy Spirit produced joy can get so good, so exhilarating, that it is once described Biblically as "unspeakable!" 1 Peter 1:8, "aneklaletos," a blend meaning "unable to talk out loud!" It can't be verbalized!

Even a letter can bring a person joy! Especially Scripture! "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." 1 john 1:4

Let your mind be a "blender" this morning. And put a "pinch" of  each of these Verses into it. Then mix! Next, consume the mixture pleasurably! Great benefit will result. Much joy, I predict!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance."

Love, smiling!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, PEACE:

May I share just one more note concerning yesterday's word, "joy?" It is possible, probable even, that something in "joy," some fortified ingredient in that majestic attribute, can actually "strengthen" the Christian!

Joy and strength?

I base that thought on Nehemiah 8:10. It needs no comment either. "For the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Joy is strength!

Let's reverse this truth and see what happens. A joyless Christian will then be a weak Christian, lacking spiritual stamina!

Jesus proves this truth too. In Matthew 21:16 Jesus is quoting Psalm 8:2, but He interprets a little as He quotes! He can do that, being the Son of God!

Here's Psalm 8:2, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies." Notice the noun "strength."

Now the Matthew 21:16 Text. "And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Jesus changed a word!

He changed "strength" in Psalm 8 to "praise" in Matthew 21.

Wow!

Because "strength" and "praise"  are often synonymous, apparently!

The more joyful you are as a Christian, the stronger you will be too!

Let's not forget this either!

Now to discuss "peace," the next quality in the fruit of the Spirit cluster.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," among others. Galatians 5:22

The Greek word is "eirene," pronounced "i-ray'-nay." It means "tranquility, rest, quietness." But its etymology is interesting too. Its parent verb, "eiro," just means "to join" two things together. Two things that were obviously disjointed! Maybe even two once opposing things!

That's what happened when God saved me! I was at odds with God, contrary to Him, even His enemy Paul said! And God, pure and holy and sinless, hating the sin in my heart, still sent His Son Jesus to earth.

Why did Jesus come? So that through His shed Blood He could reach over and get me out of the pit of filth I was in ... then reach up with His other Hand and touch Almighty God the Father ... and "join" us together!

Atonement!

Propitiation!

Peace, joining two opposing entities together!

Exactly what the Lord did for me!

Now, by Grace, God and I are, dare I say it?

Friends!

And that relationship brings me great PEACE!

Endless PEACE!

Perfect PEACE!

The the Bible says more.

Ephesians 2:14, "Jesus is our Peace!"

John 14:27 next. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The very Peace of God, in my heart!

Let Isaiah talk a second. "Thou Lord wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Trust Jesus, peace will be the result! Isaiah 26:3, my Mom's favorite verse! "Stayed" means "to lean upon someone for support!"

This peace is not earned, or "worked up." or "borrowed" from somewhere. It is a "gift," part of being filled with the Holy Spirit!

If you have the Spirit, you can have this peace!

They cannot be separated!

You certainly have the "potential" for such peace, it's already dwelling in your spirit and soul! You just need to "tap" into it. Then let it flow! Just pick it and eat some! Being a fruit like it is, that's so inviting!

Quiet!

Rest!

Tranquility!

Nothing disturbing!

I'll close with Romans 5:1. Enjoy it! Live it! Display it! "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Claim it!

Appropriate it!

It's real.

It really can't be fully explained, this great peace. Even Paul agrees! "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

It passes our understanding, but sure does feel good!

Thank You, Lord.

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, LONGSUFFERING:

The word is "longsuffering."

It's one of the nine-fold wonders we  call "the fruit of the Spirit," the Holy Spirit of God.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," and a few more. Fully listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

In Greek our word is spelled "makrothumia." It's a blend of two other words, "makros," meaning "long," plus "thumos," meaning "passion," but particularly "anger, wrath or indignation."

In a nutshell, "longsuffering" means learning "to go a long time before one's anger breaks forth!" This is the Bagwell definition rather than the lexicon data, but it's accurate.

Are we being told that the Holy Spirit can so influence our lives that even our passions can be restrained?

Yes!

My temper?

Yes!

As a noun our word appears only fourteen times in the New Testament. Five of those times God Himself is the Possessor of Longsuffering! Its Author or Originator one might say. The other nine times we humans are to exhibit this grace!

Let me give you a sample or two.

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation." 2 Peter 3:15, without God's restraint on His Own holy Wrath, I would have been in Hell long ago. Certainly before I was ever saved!

And in Colossian 3:12 Paul has us each morning "putting on," like our clothes, such graces as "longsuffering!" Here it is. "Put on therefore, as the children of God, holy and beloved, mercies, kindness, meekness and longsuffering." Each day as I begin to stir, I must deliberately decide not to get angry! To be very, very slow to wrath!

That's longsuffering, all right.

Preachers must need big doses of longsuffering! Paul wore his as a badge of authenticity it seems. "But thou Timothy hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity and patience." 2 Timothy 3:11

That old Preacher I quoted a day or two ago also said this, "Longsuffering is simply Love at rest! Love refusing to retaliate!" If you have any doubts about it, read 1 Corinthians 13:4 again. "Charity suffereth long," using the verb form of "makrothumia."

To "balance" the foregoing information, I'll quickly visit the Book of Proverbs with you. We're looking for the person who can control his or her anger! Proverbs 16:32 is the best. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

This too. "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him." Proverbs 29:20, no longsuffering here!

Let's ask the Lord to help us be "a long time" in developing and releasing our passions, especially anger and bitterness and revenge!

If that prayer is answered, it will undoubtedly be through the means of the Holy Spirit of God. He Who builds into us, rather, Who grows into us, the beautiful fruit-of-the-Spirit cluster! Like a bunch of grapes, sweet and tasty and healthy and heaven sent!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a little more "longsuffering" please!

To the Glory of God!

The Holy Spirit is the true Grower. We merely provide the soil, that being a willing heart!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, GENTLENESS:

The word is beautiful, even in its sound. "Kindness," one of the attributes of the Holy Spirit of God.

Our King James Version renders it this way, "gentleness." Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," and a few more.

It's the Greek noun "chrestotes," meaning "gracious, easy, mild, pleasant," unable to be harsh! Not hard, sharp or bitter!

"Mellow," not tart like sour grapes or apples!

The New Testament first begins using this word as a trait of God Himself. "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" Romans 2:4, where "goodness" is "kindness or gentleness," again "chrestotes." If I am kind, I must be patterning myself after the Lord! God is rich in Kindness! I must be also!

Paul again in Romans 11:22, "Behold therefore the goodness of God." Not all the verse but enough for us today. "Behold" equals "Look!" Understand and perceive and comprehend it, God's gentleness! Yes we are to "consider the lilies," but also God's sweetness!

This is not exactly what God "is," such as Grace and Love, rather "chrestotes" is more specifically how God behaves! His mild, pleasant ways toward me!

Wow!

According to 2nd Corinthians 6:6, Paul was a very kind man too! To Timothy and Titus and Silas and Luke and all the other coworkers. To Lydia and Priscilla and Euodias as well I'm sure.

A Christian who is "right" with God and "filled" with the Spirit can't help it! She will be kind, gentle, soft and mild and sweet, as a lifestyle!

It's just the "fruit" of Holy Spirit influence.

And here's the best news of all, perhaps. God is going to continue His "kindness" toward us for all eternity! That fact alone would make me want to be saved! "That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Glory to God, Ephesians 2:7, in the ages to come!

And like some of the other Christian graces, we are to "dress" in kindness every morning! Wrap it about your body and soul and spirit! "Put on therefore, holy and beloved, mercies and kindness and humbleness of mind and meekness and longsuffering." From Colossians 3:12. What are you wearing today, spiritually? A ruffled temper, or gentleness and sweetness?

Last of all, Jesus is God's Kindness!. He Who appeared to save our lost souls! Then naturally, the more Jesus impacts me, the more gentle I will be! Titus 3:3, "After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared." 

In my heart right now, yours too probably, there's a fountain "bubbling up" with the desire to be kind! The next phone call I get or conversation I have, I want to be gracious and sweet and pleasant, not impatient and harsh.

The Holy Spirit expects such kindness and gentleness in our lives! It's not that He commands it nearly as much as He produces it!

He "rubs off" on us, kindness and all!

He is sowing seeds of gentleness in our hearts every day, then trusting God the Father for a bountiful harvest!

Chrestotes!

The longer I love Him and know Him and serve Him, the more kind and gentle and sweet I want to be! And the less mean and bitter and sharp too!

Watch this verse as I close. "God, Thy gentleness hath made me great." Psalm 18:35, in other words, His kindness has so bloomed and exploded and multiplied in my life that I have adopted it as my very own!

Almost this, "I am what I am by the Kindness of God!"

Be gentle today!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, GOODNESS:

The word today is "goodness."

And it is a manifestation, an evidence, of the Holy Spirit's vital Presence in our lives.

Here is its place in the "fruit of the Spirit" cluster. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

The word in Greek is "agathosune," pronounced "ag-ath-o-soo'-nay." Accent the next-to-the-last syllable.

And here's the rare thing about it, when compared to the other qualities in the list, it only occurs four times in all the Bible, New Testament of course.

And all its "first mention" tells us is that we Christians are to be full of it, of this "goodness." Romans 15:14, "And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another." Paul is writing. And "full" there means "completely engulfed."

But still, that's not a definition, just a description.

Then in Ephesians 5:9 Paul, in abbreviated fashion, links "goodness" to the Holy Spirit yet again. "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth." Nine entities have now been reduced to three! And the Ephesians were a lot more spiritual than the Galatians, too. By quite a distance! So "agathosune" is a fundamental fruit of the Spirit! Right along with righteousness and truth!

But 2nd Thessalonians 1:11-12 may be the most helpful. "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

See it? The "pleasure," the "delight," the "thrill" of His Goodness! Whatever this "goodness" is, we are to be exercising it everywhere we go! Spreading the "good pleasure" of it near and far!

Three verses outside of our Text. One says we Christians are to have this "goodness." The other identifies it with the Holy Spirit! And the third links it with God the Father!

Who is not mentioned?

Jesus, God the Son!

Which fact makes me wonder if indeed Jesus Himself just might be this GOODNESS!

Goodness personified!

Goodness come form Heaven to earth!

Goodness in shoe leather, or sandals!

Here's a one line summary of Jesus' Life and Ministry. "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good ...." Acts 10:3

Here's my definition.

Of agathosune, goodness, "That quality of Spirit that makes a man or woman generous of her time and energy and even financial assets as well!

One scholar says it means this: "Being generous to give what was never deserved!"

Wow!

Is that Jesus, or what?

See if this sounds like "goodness" to you. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." 2nd Corinthians 8:9

Goodness Gracious!

If I am Spirit-filled, I will be generous.

With my kindness.

With my words.

With my time.

With my money.

With my love.

With my concern.

One Preacher said that this "goodness" is really "gentleness" on foot! Going everywhere sharing and caring and spreading God's Love!

In fact, now I am wondering if all nine aspects of "the fruit of the Spirit" are cumulative. Does each build on the one previous to it?

Don't know yet.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance." Galatians 5:22-23

Truthfully, I doubt a man will ever have real "temperance," that's self control, until he is "meek!" If so the last two graces on the Fruit of the Spirit list have "linkage!"

And why would a person ever be meek, if He did not have faith to believe Jesus' Words in the first place? "He that shall humble himself shall be exalted." Matthew 23:12, now we've established an association for the seventh and eighth members of this Fruit cluster!

See how they might be linked? If so, everything depends on agape! Love then would be the cornerstone of it all!

"And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1st Corinthians 13:13

Goodness!

I know more about the Fruit of the Spirit as I complete this lesson than I knew when I began! Yes, you can learn while you are teaching, or when you are writing! Glory to God!

Everybody, be good today!

Be sweet and kind and generous!

God will likely place someone in your path this Wednesday who needs your Christian "generosity."

Not necessarily money, that's not what I'm saying.

Give, give, give, whatever you can to help them.

A smile, a kind word, a few minutes of your time, a word of prayer.

That's "agathosune" goodness!

That's the Holy Spirit living through you!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, FAITH OR FAITHFULNESS:

The word today is "faith." It alone occurs 244 times in he New Testament, "pistis" in Greek. It is "a conviction that something is true." It is derived from "peitho," meaning "to be persuaded!" To have faith thus is "to believe."

But all these foregoing definitions are "objective" in nature, focusing on the Lord in Whom we believe. It is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that "pistis" here in the Galatians 5:22-23 list is more "subjective." If so, it means "faithfulness." Some synonyms; reliability, trustworthiness, dependability, consistence, tenacity."

I lean more to this latter definition, application, whatever.

Truly, "faith," that which is the instrument of salvation, is the beginning of the Christian life. "For by grace are ye saved through faith." Ephesians 2:8

Saving "faith" as such would not have been listed seventh in Paul's list, but first! No doubt!

But if we're dealing with "faithfulness," that's another matter altogether.

Going to Church regularly, hardly ever missing a Service! That's faithfulness! It's the result of having been saved, true enough, but an aftermath nonetheless. Saving faith leads to faithfulness, reliability, consistency!

Tithing consistently, same thing, faithfulness!

Reading one's Bible, every day, for months or years, ditto, faithfulness!

Praying without ceasing! That too, if practiced long enough, is faithfulness!

You get the picture, I'm sure.

Here's faithfulness as seen from an Old Testament perspective. Psalm 119:165,  "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." They just keep on  going! Hurt feelings don't bother them. Few things can "trip" them or "offend" then! They are resolutely determined to keep on serving Jesus!

And this "pistis," this "faithfulness," is an absolute necessity for Preachers. "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." 1st Corinthians 4:2, "pistos" being the word again.

But here is the epitome of faithfulness. Jesus Christ our Lord! "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to Him (God the Father) that appointed Him."

Our faithful Lord!

To be like Him, I can't be a quitter!

Or wishy-washy!

Up and down!

On and off!

So the Holy Spirit, always on the job, plants and cultivates grows and eventually harvests in us that beautiful fruit, "faithfulness!"

If He is in you, so is a faithful spirit!

Here's my favorite "faithfulness" verse. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1st Corinthians 15:58, faithful to the core!

Now here's my second favorite. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9, don't quit!

Steady ... for Jesus!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, MEEKNESS:

The quality we study today is "meekness."

It's the eighth of nine aspects of "The Fruit of the Holy Spirit." Not things we must manufacture in our lives, but growth that occurs as a result of God's holy Presence, through His sweet Spirit.

By now they may all be "running together" in your mind. That can easily happen, at least until we memorize the list. And then learn the definition of each trait. They are distinguishable.

"Meekness," spelled "prautes," means "mildness" of manner. Quiet and non-assertive. Or not excessively assertive.

This is not an attractive quality these days. Today it's "Watch out for yourself!" Or "Nobody's going to run over me!"  Then again, "Speak up, be heard, don't be a wimp!"

But phrases like these are hurled at "meekness" mostly because we don't really understand its real meaning, its implication.

In the "meek" individual one finds an ability to "soothe" the troubled waters of life. He or she is a peacemaker, whenever possible. To keep things calm. To promote tranquility, not discord.

The opposite of meekness is a contentious, belligerent attitude. Someone who must win the argument! And is rude and abrasive in doing so!

Meekness again I say, is mildness of spirit.

But, and this is very important, "meekness" is not "weakness!"

The most pictorial use of the word that I can remember was from an ancient Greek author. He talked about a wild horse, strong and fierce, who had been "tamed" by his master! And the horse now loved that man, who after all fed him and housed him and petted him.

Did that horse still have his strength?

His potential wildness?

His impetuous spirit?

Oh yes.

But now that strength and power and vigor are "under control," voluntarily, all because of love!

That's "meekness!"

Strength, under voluntary constraint!

Power still there, plenty of it too, but now clothed in mildness!

Oh yes, he still may have his fiery temper! But it's now been yielded to the Holy Spirit, Who has tempered it and mellowed it and harnessed it, all to better equip this man to serve the Lord.

Paul had this "spirit of meekness." Oh, could he be "rough!" But instead, he usually opted for mildness and humility and lowliness of heart. "What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" 1st Corinthians 4:21

Jesus is meek, of course. "Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ." 2nd Corinthians 10:1, just as well say it, "Jesus is Meekness!"

And meekness should be part of our daily wardrobe as Christians. Dress in it each morning! "Put on therefore, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another." Colossians 3:12

Preachers are supposed "to chase" meekness, until they catch it! "But thou, O man of God, follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 1st Timothy 6:11, where "follow" means "to diligently pursue."

And when in an argument, meekness is essential! "In meekness instructing those that oppose you." 2nd Timothy 2:25, without meekness tempers will certainly flare!

To whom must we exercise our meekness, this gift from the Holy Spirit? "Showing all meekness unto all men." Ladies too, Titus 2:3.

Meekness is even needed to properly hear and learn God's Word! Would you have ever thought that? "Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls." James 1:21

Furthermore, Wisdom apparently carries its own built-in meekness! James 3:13 talks about the "meekness of wisdom." This of course is God's Wisdom, not earthly wisdom.

The Old Testament often uses this same idea too, of meekness. One example must suffice. "The meek will God guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way." Psalm 25:9, where the meek are malleable.

The more of the Holy Spirit's fullness I experience, the more meekness will grow in my heart and soul and spirit and life and behavior!

Jesus will close our lesson today. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

If He is meek, I want to be also.

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Wild horses inside, potentially!

Mildness of spirit, outside!

Strength, under control!

I could get mad and tear this place to pieces. But I rather choose to remain quiet and behaved, all to honor the One Who died for me on the Cross of Calvary!

That's meekness!

 

 

LESSON 11, TEMPERANCE OR SELF-CONTROL:

The ninth and last named Fruit of the Spirit is "temperance." The English words suggests "modifying something by the addition or subtraction of a particular ingredient." To change that commodity for the better. The ability to improve oneself, most often using inner strength to accomplish this feat.

But the Greek noun for "temperance" is even more precise. Spelled "egkrateia," it means "self control." It blends "en," a preposition and here a prefix, with "kratos," a noun meaning "strength, power, might." Hence, "power down within a person," a determination to start or stop a particular form of behavior!

In its verb form, "krateo," the word means "to hold on" or even "to be master or chief" of something. Most often, one's own personality or lifestyle.

Look at it in context now. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

The Holy Spirit empowers me to live right!

To refrain when need be, from some questionable activity. To "stop" some sinful habit.

To begin when need be, some equally positive godly habit. To "initiate" daily Bible reading or prayer or witnessing and then to stay with the new regimen, empowered by the Holy Spirit reaffirming your human spirit.

These are examples of "temperance," positively and negatively.

The word's New Testament appearances are scarce.

Peter has listed it as one of the eight "stepping stones" to maturity in Christ. "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2nd Peter 1:5-8

Paul, once when preaching to the Roman Governor Felix, expounded so hard about temperance that the Official actually "trembled." Acts 24:25 gives the details. "And as Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."

The verb form of "egkreteia" is used twice in Scripture, 1st Corinthians 7:9 and 9:25, once concerning marriage and once regarding athletics. Both are to be understood as sheer "self-control" situations, or lack thereof!

The ancient Greeks also had a word that meant the opposite of "egkrates," that being "akretes." No power at all, to control oneself! A man totally given to his personal desires, his passions, whatever they might have been.

The Holy Spirit does not allow us such ease, such laziness, such slothfulness of character.

He imparts to you and me "strength," or "kratos," to control all our wants and desires, conforming them to the Will of God!

Christian friend, that "strength" is in you in direct proportion to your submission to the Spirit of God. To your hunger for Him!

You may currently not be "tapping" into that power, but it's there for you use, be sure!

Want a little experiment to try? A little homework for the Weekend?

On bended knees, ask the Lord to "name" some little thing in your life, an activity you need to quit, or a discipline you need to start, and obey Him immediately!

That very desire and resolve to obey God is the beginning of "self-control!" And once this new God-given project has been accomplished, your self-control will have become even more dominant. It's like a muscle, use it and it will develop. Ignore it and it will atrophy.

Self-control!

In everything we do.

Was Paul that kind of man, self controlled? "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1st Corinthians 9 again, notice the clause I've capitalized. Yes Paul was full of self control!

We must be too.

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12, CONCLUSION:

Let's conclude our lessons on the fruit of the Spirit by looking at the list one more time, but in a summary fashion. As a synthesis, a blend, a composite. After all, these nine entities are called just that, "fruit," singular!

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," Paul's full list from Galatians 5:22-23. However, in Ephesians 5:9 he abbreviates some, naming only three members! "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth." This is surprising.

Can this "fruit" grow in different intensities? Is some of it more potent? More fully developed? More balanced? Did Paul expect more of the Galatians than he did of the Ephesians?

Or perhaps more to the point, did the Ephesians have less growing to do than did the Galatians? Spiritually, I mean.

Maybe my fruit garden, my Holy Spirit orchard, is lacking in peace and meekness. Then, no doubt, that's where the Spirit will be concentrating His efforts!

I'm just thinking out loud.

Mercy! Do these Scriptures possibly suggest some variation in the Holy Spirit's "growth" pattern, in how He matures us believers? Individually crafted?

Still, however it comes, the Galatians style or the Ephesians model, it's called "fruit," not fruits!

In other words, as I earlier said, it's a blend!

Somewhat like V-8 juice, a vegetable juice mix, all the flavors are placed into one glass!

We might not notice in that godly lady all nine traits simultaneously. Her gentleness may be prominent one day and her faith the next!

But one grace, peace or joy or whatever, surely is made more powerful by the presence of the others. These "ingredients" no doubt complement and fortify each other. 

Taste that V-8 drink, and as you do you can, by concentrating, actually discern the carrot juice. Then the tomato juice. Plus, if your palate is sensitive enough, the celery and beet and even spinach flavors are quietly present as well!

Yes, I read the label! That drink even has parsley and lettuce juice too! That's exactly what says!

So it is, I think. with the fruit of the Spirit. All nine flavors may not "jump out" at you immediately. But watch that preacher's life, or that godly lady, the Sunday School teacher. And if you're deliberately discerning, as these two people come and go week after week you will begin to notice! Notice what? Little hints of Holy Spirit fruit! A dash of love and joy! A sprinkle of peace and longsuffering! A tablespoon of  gentleness and goodness! Perhaps at times a whole cup full of faith and meekness and temperance! They are all there, just in varying degrees of intensity, maybe even on different days, according to the situations at hand.

A blend!

Clustered fruit!

Let's examine our own lives today too. Get your spiritual "taster" ready! Look for them one by one. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."

How did you do?

There should be some of each.

Maybe buckets of a few of them.

If any seem to be missing, call for Help! Using John 15 as a background now, a "branch" near you is probably "kinked." And the Spirit no longer able to "flow" as freely! This would hinder if not altogether stop fruit production! Get "untangled" in a hurry!

Oh, those last few words of Galatians 5:23, "Against such there is no law." What does that mean?

I believe Paul is saying that such godly living, this luscious fruit, cannot be legislated. It can't be commanded into our lives! We cannot grunt and groan and labor super intensively and produce it on our own!

No rules or regulations apply.

It all about Life, not Law! The very Life of God the Holy Spirit residing deep down in our hearts and souls!

And He, not a Lawgiver but a Comforter, shares His very Essence with us. And His Essence is, just as it is with God the Father and God the Son ... love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance." At least that's a pretty good summary. One divinely written I might add, straight from Galatians 5:22-23.

Christians, we are walking fruit gardens!

Let's live like it.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

Wow, what Scripture!

 

 

Thank YOU for visiting our Website!

You are visitor number ...

Hit Counter

 

 

Copyright 2010 DrMikeBagwell.org  All Rights Reserved.
 

The Fundamental Top 500