Sunday Evening Bible Study
July 21, 1996
Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.
But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:
Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
We've looked at the "works of the flesh", and now we're looking at the "fruit of the Spirit, the natural results that God produces in our lives as we let the Holy Spirit take more control of our lives.
Now we are looking at the singular "fruit of the Spirit".
It's a single fruit that has nine different characteristics.
The more we grow in the Lord, the more we learn to "walk in the Spirit" (vs.16), the more these qualities will appear.
These next two words are kind of similar on the surface, so we're going to take them together.
:22 the fruit of the Spirit is ...
chrestotes - moral goodness, integrity; benignity, kindness
comes from the adjective chrestos - fit, fit for use, useful; virtuous, good; manageable, mild, pleasant (as opp. to harsh, hard sharp, bitter), of things: more pleasant, of people, kind, benevolent
In the King James, this word (translated here as gentleness) is translated "goodness" (4x), "kindness" (4x), "good" (1x), and "kindness" (1x).
NIV & NAS both translate it "kindness" in Gal.5:22
Some more flavor for this word:
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Jesus' yoke does not chafe, irk and gall (Barclay)
Lu 5:39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Old wine is more mellow.
1. It is giving to a person who doesn't deserve it, without expecting anything in return:
Lu 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
God is "kind" by giving to those who don't deserve it, even if they're unthankful and evil.
Here's a good story about being a respecter or, should I say, a disrespecter of persons:
John Barrier didn't like the way a bank manager in Spokane, WA, looked at him -- like he'd "crawled out from under a rock" because of his dirty construction clothes.
So Barrier, who just wanted a parking slip validated, took his money and left -- $1 million at the time.
It began when Barrier, 59, went to Old National Bank to cash a $100 check.
When he tried to validate the slip to save 60 cents, a receptionist refused, saying he hadn't conducted a transaction.
"She said you have to make a deposit," he says.
"I told her I'm considered a substantial depositor and she looked at me like... well."
He asked to see the manager, who also refused to stamp the ticket.
Barrier went to bank headquarters vowing to withdraw his $2 million plus unless the manager apologized. No call came.
"So the next day I went over and the first amount I took out was $1 million."
"But if you have $100 in a bank or $1 million," he says, "I think they owe you the courtesy of stamping your parking ticket."
-- Elisa Tinsley, USA Today
2. It's the opposite of malice, guile, etc.
2:1-3 Wherefore laying aside all malice,
and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
When Lee's army escaped across the Potomac into Virginia after the defeat at Gettysburg, Lincoln was greatly distressed; and in his disappointment and anger he wrote a sharp letter to the commander of the Union army, General Meade. But after the letter had been written he decided not to send it. That letter contains many true sentiments, and to us at this distance it does seem that Meade should never have permitted Lee to get safely over the river into Virginia. But lest in the intensity of his feeling, and in his mortification, he should wound or do an injustice to a faithful general, Lincoln did not send the letter. Some of the best letters ever written are those which were never sent.
3. As we've seen, it is a characteristic of God:
Ro 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (AV)
Along with God's patience toward us, it is God's main method of bringing us to repent.
We sometimes think that if we beat someone over the head, or hurt them in some way, that we'll cause them to change.
But that's not God's main method!
4. It is to be the one of the qualities of God's servants:
2Corinthians 6:4-6 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
It's not like ...
One pastor had a rather crude layman who liked to go out visiting people. But he was rather crude, so the pastor gave him a list of delinquent church members and some church stationary and told him to write letters to all those who haven't been coming.
Several weeks later the church secretary received a letter from a lawyer with a check inside for $1000. And enclosed was this note:
"To whom it may concern. I received your letter and I want to remind you that there is only 1 "T" in dirty and no "C" in skunk."
It is like - words I'd like to hear ...
From my auto mechanic:
"That part is much less expensive than I thought."
"I've never seen anyone maintain his car as well as you do."
"You could get that done more cheaply at the garage down the street."
"It was just a loose wire. No charge."
From my son's preschool teacher:
"Everyone misbehaved today except Michael."
"Michael traded his candy bar for carrot sticks."
"I wish we had 20 Michaels."
From a store clerk:
"The computerized cash register is down. I'll just add up your purchases with a pencil and paper."
"I'll take a break after I finish waiting on these customers."
"We're sorry we sold you defective merchandise. We'll pick it up at your home and bring you a new one or give you a complete refund, whichever you prefer."
-- David Grimes in Sarasota, FL, Herald Tribune as reprinted in The Reader's Digest, March 1992, p. 12
5. We need to experience this from God so we can give it to others:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (AV)
When you've tasted God's kindness for yourself, then you are able to give it to others.
If you're having a tough time being "kind" to others, perhaps you need to open up your heart and let God's kindness touch you.
The word is also found in: Rom.3:12; 11:22; Eph.2:7; Col.3:12; Tit.3:4
agathosune - uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness
from agathos - of good constitution or nature
It is found in Rom.15:14; Gal.5:22; Eph.5:9; 2Th.1:11
It is a word that is not found in the secular Greek writings, but only in Christian writings.
1. It carries more the idea of goodness in the sense of purity, righteousness, obedience to God:
Ephesians 5:5-11 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
2. It may at times lead a person to rebuke, correct, or discipline another person:
Ro 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.
Ro 15:14 ¶ I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (NIVUS)
We need balance between "gentleness" and "goodness".
It seems at times that I see people stray from one side to the other.
We can become so caught up in "goodness" that we are constantly going about correcting other people, trying to get them to shape up.
We take it upon ourselves to be Old Testament prophets who, like Samuel, might take a sword and hack Agag to pieces.
Or we can become so "gentle" towards people that we're just everybody's friend, and if a friend ever needs to have a hard word spoken to them, it certainly won't be coming from us.
We see this balance in our Lord Jesus:
Jesus displayed "goodness"
John 2:13-17 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
The Bible says:
Pr 27:6 Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful. (AV)
Jesus displayed "kindness"
John 8:1-11 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
May God give us a healthy balance in our lives.
Note: "Kindness" is mentioned before "goodness", and I think that is the proper order.
If we're going to be unbalance in any way, let it be by putting the first things a little more first.