Happy New Year, everyone. Last night we took the evening to look at what the fruit of the Spirit (in Galatians 5:22-23) tell us about God. Here are some notes from the study:
Galatians 5:22-23 — 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Thinking about the Fruit of the Spirit (v.22).
The idea in this passage, starting in verse 16, is that these are the things that happen in and through someone who has God’s Spirit in them, and God working with them. This is what happens in the life of someone who’s in communication with God, someone who’s attentive to God and organizes their life so that they can understand who he is and what he’s doing and saying, so they can get on board with that. This is what the Holy Spirit of God produces in someone’s life when He’s active in their life. When God is actively working in your life, these are the things that happen inside of you, and these are the things that shape your actions, so that they come out of you too.
Now here’s the crucial link to get us into what we’re going to look at tonight. What I want to zero in on is this question: Why are these the things that are produced in your lives when God is active in them? My short answer to this question is: because these things are true about God. They are who he is and what he is like. They describe his qualities. In other words, he produces these things in our lives because he is just like this, and he “rubs off” on us, so to speak—the more we have him in our lives, the closer we are with God and the more time we spend cultivating our relationship with him, the more we become.
Now, if this is true, it brings up a very interesting question. To illustrate it, just imagine that you had a friend who was really not a good athlete at all. And then imagine that he told you that he had a new friend. And then a few months later, you’re hanging out with him again and he beats you in a on-on-one basketball game, and drains a three pointer to seal the game. And you’re like, “Ok where’d you learn that?” And he says, “Oh from hanging out with that new friend I told you about.” What would you conclude about this new friend? Probably, that that this guy is some great athlete, to be able to take your clutz friend and turn him into an athletic wizard.
So again, look at the list of things in verse 19-21. One of the things that’s happening in that verse is that it’s pointing out what kind of people we all are before we are changed by God. I’m not saying we all do all those things. Probably only a few people do all those things. I’m saying we all have some of those things in our lives. We probably look down on the things in that list we’re not involved in, and excused and ignore the things in that list we are involved in, but it’s all just an indication of who we are without God. So the point of verses 22 and 23 is that The Holy Spirit can take people like that, like verses 19-21, and turn them into verses 22-23. And if he can do that, what does that tell us about God?
And when we add in one other thing, that the Bible is clear that god is infinite, and we add that to this whole discussion, then, it gets really interesting. If God is infinite, imagine what that means about who he is in relationship to each item in this list.
What does it tell us about God that these are the things that happen in us and through us if the Holy Spirit is in our life?
If closeness to God produces love in someone’s life, what does that tell us about God?God is the most loving person there has ever been. Full stop. In fact, the bible says, he is love. Love is at the core of his being. It is an essential ingredient in his Goodness. He is infinitely loving. There is no end to his affection and good will. He wants good things for everyone everywhere. He is self-giving and big hearted, holding nothing back, with no end. He even became human so that he could do the ultimately loving thing and die for us. He is never small-hearted, tight-fisted, hateful. He is only generous, all the time.
If closeness to God produces joy in someone’s life, what does that tell us about God? God must be a very happy person. And because of who he is, he must be infinitely happy and joyful. Think about that. Infinite happiness. He is infinitely emotionally resilient, not easily ruffled or offended. He is never sullen, bored, or irritable. He’s never detached or disinterested. He is eternally optimistic, excited about the future, and engaged in the present. What will it produce in my life, if I get really close to someone who is infinitely happy—in himself?
If closeness to God produces peace in someone’s life, what does that tell us about God?God is the kind of person who can take someone who is all torn up inside, or anxious, or angry, or hurt, and produce…peace. Doesn’t that sound great? And the reason he can is that He is, in himself, the most peaceful being in the universe. Nothing worries him. Nothing stresses him out. He has an infinite capacity to handle the issues of life, without descending into anxiety. He is never anxious. He is never apprehensive, or annoyed, or aggravated. Think about what good news this is—the creator of the universe cannot be thrown off. A.B. Simpson says when someone has true closeness to God, it “brings into the spirit the abiding presence of the very God of peace Himself. True peace is nothing less than the deep, divine tranquility of His own eternal calm.”
“Longsuffering” means patience, or endurance. A history of closeness to God produces, in a life, the ability to endure difficult things without giving up. It produces the ability to stick with difficult people without abandoning them. So, if this is true—if hanging out with God makes me better able to press on through difficult things, what does that tell me about God? God is infinitely patient. He has an infinite ability to put up with me, and every other difficult person in the world, for all time. And He has an unending capacity for putting up with the messes we’ve made. Now, of course, he won’t put up with our messes forever—but it’s not because he just couldn’t handle it anymore. Whenever God unleashes judgement on the world, it’s not because he finally lost control. It’s because his love and wisdom dictated that it was time to cut some situation short. But it wasn’t because he couldn’t put up with us. He could put up with us forever. Because he has infinite patience.
If closeness to God makes someone more kind, what does that tell us about God? “Kind” isn’t really a cool word. And we don’t really say “kind,” we say things like, “nice.” But “kind” is bigger. “Nice” can mean just, like, they don’t make anyone mad. “Kind” means there’s some active goodwill that goes out from the person and does good things in people’s lives around them. Closeness to God will make you like that. Because God is infinitely kind.
He is always considerate, always knows what’s best, and wants what’s best for everyone. Theologians say he always “wills the good” of everyone. He wants the best for everyone. He’s never mean or vindictive or tight-fisted. He wants everyone to be happy, healthy, and whole, forever. He wants the planet clean and healthy, and all the animals doing good, and men and women enjoying it and living full lives, forever. He wants you to be able to overcome trials and know that you’re loved and he wants you to be close to him—so you can be full of life…
This word means “positive moral quality characterized by interest in the welfare of others.” If closeness to God makes someone “good,” what does that tell us about God? God is infinitely good. He is never evil, he doesn’t have a dark side, or skeletons in his closet. In our culture, we’ve lost the ability even to create characters like that, or imagine anyone like that. But God is like that. He doesn’t have a quick temper or a pet vice or a secret bad habit he nurses. You’ll never catch him being someone other than he’s always shown himself to be. He doesn’t love things that are mean or things that break people down or ruin things. He only builds, grows, heals, cleans, and loves. When he’s around, things are good! Things work. Things live and grow. People get fixed. He’ll never do you wrong—only good things come from knowing him. In fact, he’s so good, his presence will heal the whole world. He’s infinitely good—he’s going to heal the whole universe.
If closeness to God makes someone more faithful—more consistent, and better to depend on, what does that tell us about God? God is infinitely faithful. He never lets anyone down, and never has. He doesn’t have limits. He doesn’t get tired and give up. He doesn’t get discouraged. You can depend on him forever, for anything. You can bank everything on him, and he’ll always come through. He never lies, never drops the ball, never changes course on a whim. He’s the same today that he was yesterday. And he’ll be the same tomorrow.
Closeness to God will make you more gentle. Why? Because God is infinitely Gentle. Think about that. What does that even mean? Here’s a quote about what the word means here: Gentleness is “the flavor someone gives off when they’re not overly impressed by a sense of their own importance—humility, courtesy, meekness.” God, the most infinitely important being in the universe, the most infinitely strong being in the universe, is infinitely…gentle. He’s completely able to control his own strength in order to make it do good things. He knows how to handle delicate situations, and fragile people. Even with all his power and importance, he doesn’t have a craving to impress—think of Jesus, saying, “I am meek (that’s the same word) and lowly at heart.” Jesus is a human picture of God’s infinite gentleness.
Closeness to God will make you a more self-controlled person. God is infinitely self-controlled. He’s always completely in command of his emotions, and his actions. He never lashes out in anger, or reacts in hurt or selfishness. Whenever he does something, it is infinitely thought through, and completely in keeping with his love and wisdom.I don’t know about you, but thinking about God this way makes me want to worship him.
A lot of us have been let down by a lot of people. The people closest to us have failed to be what they should have been. But here’s the good news: there is a being who’s closer to you than your dad—because he made your soul. He’s more powerful than the president. He’s wiser than your teachers and coaches. And he sticks closer than a brother—because he’s God. And that means he’s infinitely loving, and joyful, and peaceful, and patient, and kind, and god, and faithful, and gentle, and self-control. Want the good news? Good news—that’s God. That’s who made you. That’s who invites you to walk with him. That’s who tells you that sin and death only separate you from his goodness.
The more we look at him, the more we want to know him, and the more we worship him.