Last week, we began looking at those nine virtues that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, commonly known as the Fruit of the Spirit. Church, both the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit are what all of these teachings that we have done this year on the Holy Spirit should point us to—to produce this good fruit in our lives. Yes, what the Lord wills for each of us is that the Holy Spirit would be manifested in and through us.
So, again, we are winding up our teachings here in 2019 on the Holy Spirit by looking at the Fruit of the Spirit—that is, the nine characteristics that the Holy Spirit is meant to produce in our lives.
We saw last week that these are located in Galatians 5:22-23, where the apostle Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Now by “virtue” of the fact that these nine virtues manifest character in our lives, we should see that character in the Christian’s life is a major part of what the Holy Spirit is meant to manifest in each of us.
As I made the point of last week, the majority of Spirit-filled Christians would much rather see signs, wonders and miracles manifest in our lives than these fruit, but these gifts are not the end all. Sure, we need the power. We absolutely need the gifts of the Holy Spirit active and operating in our lives, but not at the exclusion of the fruit of the Spirit. The Bible is clear that it is not our gifts that lets us know that we are born again Christians; the apostle John says it is our love of the brethren (see First John 3:14).
The truth is, that these nine virtues are the fruit that someone is living a spiritual life. In other words, these fruit are the tell-tell sign of whether someone is spiritual of not. No, it’s not how much we speak in tongues or how many miracles we see in our lives; it’s how much we genuinely love people and how much joy & peace we are producing in our lives. If you recall, we looked at the example of the Church of Corinth and saw how they had a plethora of gifts, but lacked character, morals, etc. This should prove to us that the presence of gifts is not what makes one mature; the fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of true spirituality.
So, I say all of this to say, we need these nine virtues produced in our lives alongside of the nine gifts of the Spirit in order to make the kind of impact on this world God has called us to. So, let’s continue this week looking at these verses in Galatians chapter 5.
Last week, we basically did an overview of these gifts and saw how one bears this fruit of the Spirit.
The first thing we saw is what Paul meant when he said at the end of verse 23— “Against such there is no law”? He was essentially saying, “There is obviously no law out there against the people who produce these nine virtues in their life.” So, when these fruit are being produced in our lives and we abide by them, we are not violating any commandment. Rather, we are actually fulfilling the righteous requirement of God’s law—that is, the royal law of love.
And herein lies the difference between the old and new covenants: The law preached “Thou shalt not … lie, steal, kill, etc.” but Jesus preached “Thou shalt … love you neighbor as yourself, love one another as I have loved you, do good, give, forgive, etc.” Let me say it this way: the law said, “Thou shalt not…” and grace says, “Thou shalt love, be joyful, have peace, be kind, do good, be longsuffering, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.” Again, why? Because by producing this fruit, we automatically fulfill the law of God. We don’t have to worry about not doing something because when we, through the power of the strength and leadership of the Spirit, do what is right, we are automatically avoiding the things that are wrong. Amen!
Then we backed up to the beginning of verse 22 and noticed that little relatively obscure word at the beginning of verse 22, the word “But.” We learned that whenever you see a conjunction like that used to begin a verse, you need to consider what the author said before it. And in this case, it is clear to me that the apostle Paul was making a distinction between these fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh that he referred to in verses 19-21.
And this is a BIG “But,” saints—because there is a big difference between not doing evil things (i.e. the works of the flesh) and doing good things (i.e. producing the fruit of the Spirit)! For example, a religious person might be able to abstain from stealing, but can he or she actually produce joy in their life? Yes, they might be able to boast that they have not murdered anyone, but have they truly loved their enemies? Church, simply not doing bad things is what religion likes to focus on; but true spirituality is fruitful—actually producing good works.
“But” the fact is, there is a big difference between how both the flesh and Spirit manifest things in our lives. Paul describes the flesh as producing “works” and the Spirit as producing “fruit”—which again, there is a difference between how fruit is produced versus how something “works” to produce something.
We saw that, in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, the works of the flesh are not produced; they are “manufactured.” A machine in a factory “works” and can manufacture a product, but it can never “produce” fruit. Fruit only comes from something that has life and there is not much effort at all in this fruit-bearing process. But when it comes to the word “work,” we think of labor, toil, strain, and effort. This does not mean that the fleshly works are not automatically generated, but rather shows us what comes with the flesh—all of these negative qualities that we associate with “work.” So, the flesh will keep you longer than you want to stay (like work) and pay you what you definitely don’t want to be paid (like most jobs).
“But” that is not how the Lord has designed for us to live the Christian life. We are not machines that work, manufacturing this fruit. No, we are fruit bearing trees that naturally (i.e. organically) produce fruit for the glory of God. It is not meant to be arduous or laborious. Rather it is meant to be free-flowing, natural producing of these virtues in our life because of Who we are abiding in and Who we have abiding in us.
We saw how the “fruit” of the cursed ground was a product of the curse on mankind after Adam’s transgression, not the blessing God intended for mankind to live in. (See Genesis 3:17-18) So, this laboring and hard work to both produce and maintain the fruit of the ground was a product of the curse, not the blessing. The world has surely modeled this to us as well—for we are trained that with hard work, discipline, and effort, we will be fruitful in life. But not so in the kingdom of God. In it, we are fruitful simply by grace, not works.
And this curse came as a result of Adam’s transgression, didn’t it? But this was never God’s plan for man. His will was that we continue to live in a fruitful Paradise where we simply enjoy life with God in the Garden and are not living by the sweat of our brow. And from the physical standpoint, while we certainly still live on the fallen, sin-cursed earth that will one day be redeemed to become the new earth, the fact is that part of our lives has already experienced redemption—that is, our spirits.
But we saw that what the First Adam lost through His sinful act, the Last Adam has regained through His righteous deed! In other words, while we had inherited death through Adam’s transgression, through the new-birth, we now have a new inheritance; yes, through Christ’s resurrection we have an inheritance of life. Glory! Amen. So, Jesus did not come to initially put us back in the Garden; He came to put the Garden back in us! What I mean by that is that through the new birth and the indwelling Holy Spirit, paradise has been restored in our spirit-man.
This is why the first key to producing the fruit of the Spirit is being born again. Without the new birth, it is impossible for us to produce His fruit—for His seed was never placed in us to begin with. Then how could we ever truly be fruitful?
So, the Lord has set things up in our spiritual walk like He did in the Garden. No longer are we to produce fruit through our labor and toil; now we produce fruit simply through abiding in the Paradise of His presence. Amen!
Then we saw how Jesus taught us this in John 15:1-8, when He taught His disciples the principle of abiding in Himself, the True Vine. In this parable, Jesus was illustrating to them (and us) what life is to be like in the kingdom.
So, we saw that just as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, likewise we are not going to be able to bear this fruit of the Spirit in our lives of ourselves. In other words, our determination, hard work and will-power is not going to get it done. No, in order to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we have to abide in the True Vine—for apart from Him, we can do absolutely nothing.
Now as we’ve learned before, this word “abide” means to stay, live, remain, or dwell. So, what Jesus is referring to here is living in His presence habitually—that is, spending time in His presence on a daily basis. Church, this is the only way to bear fruit—to be consistently connected to Jesus through spending time in fellowship with Him.
Then we moved on in Galatians 5:22 and looked at how the apostle Paul specifically called these nine virtues—the fruit of the Spirit. And we noticed that the word “fruit” is singular, in contrast to the “works” (plural) of the flesh. We learned that the fact that Paul uses fruit singular here suggests to us that these virtues/qualities are in unison—perhaps like a cluster of grapes as opposed to different pieces of fruit. We saw how this also serves in contrast to the gifts of the Spirit that are distributed to each one individually to where one Christian might tend towards one gift, and another operates in two totally different gifts. The fruit of the Spirit are not like this because every believer is expected to produce all nine of these fruit in their lives. So, we can’t say what we do with the gifts something like— “I have the gift of tongues, but I don’t have the gifts of healings.” No, we can’t say, “Well, I tend to produce kindness in my life, but self-control is not my fruit.” We need to understand that we all have the same Spirit and, therefore, are expected to produce the same fruit. Amen?
So, that is why Paul, through the Holy Spirit, calls these nine virtues of character—the fruit of the Spirit. But then we saw how they are not just called fruit, but are called the fruit of something—namely, the fruit of the Spirit.
If we back up and consider the context of Galatians chapter 5, we discover that this fruit Paul is describing is the fruit of both walking in the Spirit (see verse 16) and being led by the Spirit (see verse 18). In other words, as we live our lives in the realm of the Holy Spirit and are led, directed and guided by Him, these nine virtues will be the by-product. Amen?
So, if someone is not exhibiting these nine fruit in their lives, what can we conclude? That they are not walking in the Spirit, nor are they being led by the Spirit. You see, church, if one claims to be Spirit-filled and is not producing these characteristics of the Holy Spirit, then something is wrong with that picture. Either God is a liar or they are. Which one do you think is more likely?
So, what did the apostle Paul mean when he described these virtues as the fruit of the Spirit? Well, there is a couple of different ways one could look at this:
Number one, it is important to understand that in the original language words like pnuema (the Greek word for “Spirit”) did not have capitalized letters. So, in this case, the term “Spirit” was capitalized by the translators.
So, was Paul referring to the Holy Spirit here or to our new, recreated spirit? Well, I made the point that I believe it is referring to both, and let me explain why:
While the Holy Spirit is the agent by which we have been born again and Who comes to take up residency in our spirit upon salvation, the fact is, if we have been born of Him, then why would our reborn spirit not have the same attributes? Let me ask it this way— since “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (see First Corinthians 6:17) then wouldn’t this fruit of the Spirit also be the nature of our born-again spirits?
My point is that it doesn’t really matter whether one believes this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit or the fruit of our born-again spirit. The bottom line is that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that helps a believer produce this fruit in their lives and He does this by giving us the life in the first place and then working together with our regenerated spirit to produce the fruit from that seed that He placed within us. Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of a spiritually alive and Spirit-empowered life!
But Paul meant that since they are called “fruit,” they are the fruit that originates from another source of life. In this case, they have come through the Seed of the Spirit. In other words, as fruit, they grow and are produced in our lives after His (the Holy Spirit’s) own kind.
I explained this by looking back in the Book of Genesis: We saw how on the third day, after the Lord created the earth, He said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:11-12). Here we see how God originally designed fruit to be produced:
First of all, we saw that in order for the tree to yield fruit, it must be created as a fruit tree. For example, if the tree is not an apple tree, then what is it not going to produce? Apples! So, the first thing that had to transpire in order for you and I to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is to be recreated as a fruit-bearing tree. And we know that this occurred by the Holy Spirit when we called on the name of the Lord, were born again, and received the new nature we received through the Spirit washing, renewing and regenerating us (Titus 3:5).
So, the Lord created things so that a fruit tree will yield its fruit, but notice that it yields fruit “according to its kind.” I like how the New Living Translation says this. It says, “from which they came.” In other words, a fruit tree is only going to produce the fruit, and the seed in that fruit, from the seed from which they came. So, we learned that the reason it is called the fruit of the Spirit is because it is fruit that is according to His kind, or you could say, it is the fruit that came directly from the seed of the Spirit.
I don’t believe most Christians have ever considered this—that if these nine virtues are the fruit of the Spirit, then they are attributes of God. It would make sense though—for why would God be producing characteristics in us that He Himself didn’t possess? No, saints, by possessing the fruit of the Spirit, we have love within us—but not only that; He is also joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Now we began looking at these last week, but let me give you a couple of other examples:
Now if we consider the context, we see that Paul was describing the difference between the glory of the Old Covenant and the glory of the New Covenant (which was said to exceed much more in glory [see verse 9]). And he uses the example of Moses putting a veil over his face after He came out of the glory of God on Mount Sinai, describing how the glory we’ve received does not pass away. Now we have had the veil removed and can behold His glory, which results in us being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.
Now, if you recall, Moses desired to see this glory and the Lord responded that He would make all of His goodness pass before him. Therefore, I equate God’s glory with His goodness. So, if we behold God’s glory, we are seeing His goodness.
And here is my point: If we behold the self-control, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, longsuffering, peace, joy, and love of our God, what does this verse say will happen? We ourselves will be transformed into the same image we are beholding—meaning, you and I will begin to reflect His nature that we are beholding. Yes, we become what we behold, church. So, behold His beauty and watch His fruit become yours, in Jesus name. Amen!
Just consider your own fruit—your children. How do they produce your fruit? First of all, they have to be born of you—holding your nature. Then by abiding in you—they become more like you through their relationship with you. But what we have just seen is a vital part of them becoming like you—they also bring forth your fruit by beholding you—for as they get to know you, observing how you live your life, they grow to become like you.
So sure, it is by being born of those parents and having their nature put in you. Sure, it is by living in the presence of those parents and being raised in their home. But it is also by beholding how those parents do things; that is what produces the fruit of those parents in the child (i.e. fruit).
All of this can be summarized in three words— Born, Abide, and Behold: First, we must be born again—receiving the nature that contains all nine of these virtues. Then we must yield to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to where He is infusing us with the supernatural ability to exhibit these qualities in our lives on a consistent basis. This is the abiding part. Finally, we need to behold the One who possesses this fruit and let His example reflect in our own lives.
Now since we are not your traditional church, we are not going to study these nine virtues in the traditional order. This week, I want to begin with two of the gifts sandwiched in the middle of Paul’s list, the two we just referred to—kindness and goodness.
What is the difference between these two fruit of the Spirit? I mean, they sound similar, don’t they? Well, they are strikingly similar, but there must be a difference if the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to mention them both as two distinct fruit of the Spirit, right?
I see “kindness” as more of the attitude by which we do things for people. Like, for example, in First Corinthians 13:4, we are told that love suffers long and is kind. How many of you know that one can suffer long or be patient with others but have the wrong attitude while doing it? For example, they might put up with or tolerate another person’s tardiness, but at the same time, be fuming on the inside while they are waiting on them. Sound like anyone we know? Don’t look at your spouse😊
“Goodness,” on the other hand, is what I believe to be the action accompanying the right attitude that we possess. Like, for instance, if there was a man who died and, in their will, they left a good portion of their estate to build an orphanage or to do some other benevolent work, how do you suppose those benefiting from him would refer to him? They might say, “He was a good man.” Why? Because we refer to someone as good because of their good deeds (or, fruit) that we see in their life.
But my point is that these two fruit of the Spirit work hand in hand. We might describe them as sister fruits, seeing how closely related they are. For example, some of you might describe the fruit of kindness in the exact opposite way—as the action itself and not the attitude—and the fruit of goodness as the inherent quality of a person.
But here is what we must agree on: that both kindness and goodness are to be produced in our lives seeing as they are fruit of the Spirit. In other words, Paul is describing two virtues that we can see evidence of in one’s life and are not just what a person is versus what they do. No, every believer is called to both be kind and do kind things, to be good and do good things. No, not to try and earn God’s love and acceptance through their goodness and kindness, but because they have already received His love and acceptance.
So, let’s get into each of these this week. Let’s look at both the fruit of goodness and the fruit of kindness. Let’s start with the first one Paul mentions “kindness.”
THE FRUIT OF KINDNESS
The dictionary defines the word “kindness” as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Therefore, I see kindness as being exhibited in demeanor, action & thought. What I mean by that is the fruit of kindness is to look kind, be kind, and to think kind. In other words, it is produced in our lives by our countenance, our actions, and our mindset.
As for other translations of this word, the original King James Version translates this word as “gentleness,” which fits well because to be kind carries with it the idea of being tenderhearted, gentle, and easily touched by other’s needs, infirmities, etc. I especially like the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, which translates this word as “sweetness”—for to be kind is to be “sweet.” Now what does it mean for someone to be sweet? It means that they are pleasant, nice, and to one’s liking. I like that. I think that is a good description of someone who is kind.
Now as we have just seen, we know from several Scriptures that God is kind (First Corinthians 13:4). We see in the Bible that His kindness is what God showed us through the giving of His Son (Ephesians 2:7). It is even His kindness (some translations say “goodness”) that leads us to repentance to receive His kindness (Romans 2:4). So, let’s let this be the barometer of what kindness is: In most of these examples of God’s kindness, we see action and not just intention. God’s kindness was Him giving us His very best (see Ephesians 2:7). It is the manifestation of His kindness that helps people to change directions. So, kindness is not merely an attitude; kindness is a tangible fruit that people experience.
Let’s look at another place where the apostle Paul encourages this fruit of kindness in our lives: In Ephesians 4:32, he said, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Compare Colossians 3:12).
The word “kind” that he used here (Greek chrestos) literally describes being useful, manageable, or employed. In fact, this is the same word used by the Master in Matthew 11:30 when He described His yoke as “easy.”
This word shows us that the way to be “employed” by the Lord is to have skills in the arena of “kindness.” Therefore, to be kind is to serve—both the Lord and others. Do you want to be useful? Do you want God to employ you for some great task? Then purpose in your heart to be a kind person, fruitful in the area of kindness. This is what makes one fit for us by Him. Amen?
But like it is with most of our jobs, this is not a Sunday only vocation. When Paul said, “Be kind to one another,” he was implying being continuously kind. In other words, this is perpetual behavior, not just a one-time performance. I guarantee you your employer wants you doing your job for 40 hours a week, and not just 4 hours, right? Likewise, God wants us to be fit for use in our employment for Him, and He considers this a full-time job, not a part-time one.
Now I want you to notice that Paul threads “tenderhearted” together with being kind here in Ephesians 4:32. Another way of describing being “tenderhearted” is to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs and desires of others. So, for this reason, I would describe “kindness” as being motivated by compassion and “moved with compassion.”
Of course, we constantly see Jesus doing the kind things that He did in the Gospels because of the compassion that moved Him. There are many examples of this, but one that certainly exhibits the fruit of kindness to me is when Jesus fed the four thousand (plus): In Matthew 15:32, He said to His disciples, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
So, how did this miracle of the feeding of thousands begin? It began with the compassion that rose up in Jesus. He was observant and conscientious of their need, knowing that they had stayed with Him for three days and that they had nothing to eat—which teaches us an important lesson: In order to be kind and compassionate, we must be conscientious and considerate. We cannot only be wrapped up in our own world, only aware of our own needs. Then, Jesus said that He did not want to send them away hungry because they might not make it back home. Now you understand that this was three days without any food, not three hours. People will say, “I’m starving!” but that’s usually not true. All that is, is their flesh crying out for food. The fact is, a person’s body can go for days without food—and if they had to do something physical like this multitude needing to walk home, we need food maybe a little sooner.
But this reminds me of what Pastor James said in James 2:15-16 when he used the example of someone being naked and destitute of daily food and they just send them away saying, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled!” Kindness does not just speak kinds words to people like saying, “I’ll pray for you, brother.” No, kindness is a work (i.e. action). It is not only saying you hope their needs are met, but it is playing an actual part in that need being met.
So, this describes kindness as not just the good intentions we have. Sure, kindness begins in the person who is kind themselves. Yes, it begins with an attitude, a mentality and way of thinking, but the fruit of kindness is produced in our lives by some kind of action on our part.
Now of course, this doesn’t mean that we are always to do something for someone in need. Being led by the Spirit is the key to every situation, but my point is that the fruit of kindness will move one to be the solution and the answer to other’s needs more times than not. Then, as we are inclined to be kind, the Holy Spirit shows us how we can best serve Him at that moment. Amen?
So, my point is, the fruit of kindness is an action, not just an intention. It ought to be our faith on display and manifested. Amen?
But not only that, we learn from the end of Ephesians 4:32 that kindness also moves one to forgive. We see this in Matthew chapter 18 when the Master was moved with compassion and forgave his servant that debt. Did you know that kindness is the motivation that we ought to forgive others with?
Again, the Lord is this way: We see in First Peter 2:3 where after the apostle Peter encouraged us as newborn babes to desire pure spiritual milk that we may grow up in our salvation, that he said, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” The word “gracious” there is the same word as “kind” in Ephesians 4:32. Again, another time this word for “kindness” is used is in Romans 2:4 when Paul describes the riches of His “goodness” (same Greek word as in Galatians 5:22) that leads man to repentance. Church, this is why this fruit of the Spirit is so important to be produced in our lives. We could say it this way--the fruit of the fruit of kindness is that people will turn to God and receive His goodness. Amen!
Which leads us to kindness’ sister fruit—the fruit of goodness:
THE FRUIT OF GOODNESS
The Greek word that Paul used in Galatians 5:22 denotes being “beneficial.” Therefore, it paints the picture a benefactor, which would describe one who possesses great wealth—a philanthropist, if you would.
You see, there is a difference between a beneficiary and a benefactor: A beneficiary is someone who benefits from the wealth stored up by others. Like, for instance, a beneficiary on some type of saving’s account might be a next of kin who is left the dollars that their spouse, parent, or grandparents have personally saved up. Therefore, the benefactor must have something to give to the beneficiary, amen?
Likewise, it needs to be understood that in order for us to be as fruitful as we can be in this fruit of the Spirit called “goodness,” we need to openly receive the goodness of God in our lives. In other words, we first need to be benefited by God’s goodness ourselves—like, for example, receiving more resources so that we will have more to give. Then we can be even “gooder” than we’ve been in the past.
Therefore, I would describe bearing the fruit of “goodness” as us being more “generous, liberal and charitable with our finances, time, or energy” like a “benefactor” graciously gives of him or herself to bless others.
It is also worth noting that we oftentimes use the word “good” in describing food. Like, for instance, if a particular fruit is “bad,” that means it is spoiled, lost its nutritional value, or no longer able to nourish us. Likewise, our fruit needs to remain good, church. That means that it needs to look good, taste good, and satisfy (others) good.
In fact, all of the fruit of the Spirit is to consist in this one virtue—goodness: In Ephesians 5:9, Paul said, “for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” The context of this passage is us walking as children of light since we are light in the Lord. So, when you and I are walking as children of light, we will produce the fruit of the light, and its fruit is “in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” That means that if I’m going about being a liar, deceptive, etc., and not doing what is right and in agreement with God’s standards, then I am not walking in the light. Likewise, if I am not exhibiting the fruit of goodness in my life, then I am not bearing all of the fruit of the light in my life. It is that simple.
Now our Lord and Savior Jesus walked in the light and bore this fruit of goodness as well, did He not? We are told in Acts 10:38 that He went about “doing good” and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. Sure, Jesus performed miracles and healed thousands of people during His earthly ministry, but what people don’t talk about as much is all the good that He did aside from those spectacular things. Yes, Jesus bore an abundance of goodness in His life and ministry along with the healings and miracles He performed.
You see, Jesus had a treasurer, and this was not just a title given to Judas; no, Jesus actually possessed finances and used that wealth to do good to others. Amen! To where even at the Last Supper, when Judas arose from the table and left, the disciples assumed Jesus had possibly sent him out to give some money to the poor (see John 13:29). Now what is interesting to me about that is this was at nighttime. So, why would Jesus’ disciples have assumed that Jesus might have sent Judas out to give something to the poor? Apparently, it was because Jesus had a reputation for doing good to those in need at all hours of the day. So, Jesus was apparently bearing the fruit of goodness all the time! And why? Because Jesus is God and God is good all the time!
You see, over and over, the Scriptures speak to us about the fact that God is good and He does good (Psalm 119:68). And these verses not only tell us He’s good, but some of them show us how He is good. Let’s look at a couple of them in order to learn how we ourselves can walk in His goodness towards others:
Psalm 34:8-10 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
When the Holy Spirit begins in verse 8 by inviting us to taste and see the Lord’s goodness, I can’t help but think of this fruit of the Spirit. And this fruit of His goodness can be both tasted and beheld.
Then in verses 9-10, we see what His goodness produces in others— “no want, lack, or suffering hunger.” Therefore, when we are good to others what is the fruit we produce in their lives? We eliminate their needs, wants, and poverty. So, again, we see goodness as that gracious benefactor that both meets the needs and grants the desires of those in want.
Let’s now look at the 84th Psalm: Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
You see, our good God is described here as a “sun,” and there are not many other physical things that we’ve been given that illustrate God’s goodness more than the sun. James 1:17 describes Him as the Father of lights that gives us every good and perfect gift. So, the sun itself is one of those good and perfect gifts. All we would need to become acutely aware of how good God has been to the human race is have that sun in the heavens burn out. Life would not be good, I can assure you.
Not only is God our sun, but he is also our “shield.” That describes Him as our protector. Oh, how much each of us have been spared from!?!
But notice what He is said to give—grace and glory. Church, in His goodness, He shares His glory with me. You could say, in His glory, He shares His goodness with me! That’s right! No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly! And what are these good things? Things that benefit and bless you and I. All of His grace and glory work on our behalf to meet our every need. Oh my glory!
So, how do we do this? We become their sun, walking as children of the light! We become their shield, offering them as much protection as we can! We grant them the grace and glory that is in our power to give them! And, last but not least, we do not withhold any good thing from them that is in our hand to give.
So, all of these Scriptures that illustrate to us God’s goodness teach us that the Lord is the giver of good things—and only things that benefit and never anything that steals, kills or destroys (John 10:10). No, God only gives “good” and perfect gifts, and He does not deviate from doing that very thing. Pastor James told us to not be deceived in this truth. (see James 1:16-17).
May it be so with us, church, that as it is with the Lord (see Psalm 34:8), those around us will be able to both taste and see the fruit of goodness in our lives! Amen!
CULTIVATING KINDNESS & GOODNESS
So, church, we need to know that the Lord expects the fruit of kindness and goodness to be manifested in our lives. But this fruit does not come by accident. Like it is with growing specific fruit in our gardens, we have to plan to produce the fruits of kindness and goodness. Yes, church, we have to plan to produce this fruit in our lives. Like we’ve learned, kindness and goodness do not just fall on us like apples out of a tree. No, they are fruit produced from our hearts. So, we must intentionally and deliberately begin to cultivate goodness and kindness in the ground of our hearts.
When was the last time you did this? I mean, when was the last time you sat down and made a plan how you could be more kind and good to someone. If we are waiting to feel like doing it, it probably won’t happen. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.
Now we can do this by maybe starting each day asking the Lord to help us be more kind and to be good to the people we come in contact with. Then, we can begin thinking of ways that we can exhibit this kindness to those in our lives. Yes, we can strategically stir up good and kind works in our lives. How? By doing what Hebrews 10:24 says, “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”
The word “consider” in this verse comes from the Greek word katanoeo and literally means “to think about from top to bottom.” So, when we take the time to think about someone thoroughly, the writer of Hebrews tells us here that we will stir up love and good works.
The words “stir up” come from the Greek word that describes a “spurring on or encouraging unto” these love and good works. Now most people interpret this last phrase— “stir up (or, provoke unto) love and good works”—as us spurring one another up or encouraging each other to be more loving and to do more good works, but that can only be assumed. The language only indicates that by considering one another this will result in a spurring on or stirring up of love and good works. So, I submit to you that when we learn to truly “consider” one another, what this will do is stir our own hearts up to loving one another and spur ourselves up unto good works! Amen!
Here is a good example of how we at High Point Church can do this: For those of you who are unaware, on the first Sunday of every year, we have what we call “First Fruits Sunday.” This is a day where each person at HPC blesses someone else in the church body. Well, a good, practical way to prepare for that day is to maybe begin saving a little money each month from the beginning of the year. Not only that, but begin “considering” others in the body throughout the year—perhaps by simply being observant as we gather together and seeing who the Lord might have you bless in one way or another. This way you are strategically, purposing to be good and kind.
You can do this with your loved ones as well: What I began doing a few years back was observing throughout the year things Shannon and Levi have either stated they liked or I’ve simply observed them showing interest in and then I use a little notes app on my phone to jot those things down. Then, when birthdays, Christmas, etc. roll around, I have a list already put together that I can pick from to bless them.
And herein lies another good word of wisdom: Be careful that it’s not always just what you think will “benefit” them; sometimes it needs to be what they believe will “benefit” them too. In other words, think about what will truly bless them the most, not just what would bless you the most.
And do you know what the other fruit of doing things like this consistently throughout the year is? You will begin producing more joy and peace in your life as well! Why? Because you are spending more time thinking of how you can be good and kind to others rather than how others can be more good and kind to you. Amen?
Finally, the apostle Paul said in First Thessalonians 5:15 (Amplified)– “See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody.” Saints, let us make this our aim here at HPC! Let us be kind to one another, living to do good to each other and to everyone for that matter! We will be the better for it. Amen.