Fruit of the Spirit
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are found in Galatians; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). These "fruits" are actually parts of each person's character that come alive when receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and allow the Holy Spirit to live within each person.
Love is first for a very good reason because it was out of love that God created human beings and He continually reached out to man despite his stubborn ways. It was out of love that God sacrificed His only Son to save man from sin. And still today, it is out of love that God sends believers in Christ to spread the Gospel so that more humans will be saved from their sin. This fruit of the Spirit comes in many forms, but the type of love mentioned in Galatians is unconditional. It is the love that a parent has for their child, which is selfless and sacrificing. That is why love is listed as the first.
Joy isn't just another form of happiness, it is actually quite different from happiness. It is eternal, deep contentment. A person finds joy when accepting the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. If a person bares joy, this can spread to others and people praise God to thank Him for all of His blessings. Joy is the fruit of the spirit that keeps a person going, even when feeling persecuted, joy can sustain life. God is truly a God of peace because He longed for peace between Himself and man. He grants people peace through His Son, who is often referred to as the Prince of Peace. Peace is found when people accept the gift of salvation. People can spread this fruit of the spirit by keeping peace in situations. After all, Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers.
Long-suffering or patience helps people to be better Christians and human beings. Sometimes when people call upon God in prayer His answer doesn't always come in earthly time. Having patience to endure the struggle until He finally answers is patience and trust. Gentleness comes right along with patience. Gentleness doesn't necessarily mean being timid. Jesus was gentle, but not at all timid about the Truth. Each Christian should be the same. Goodness or kindness is so simple, yet so difficult for many people to attain. Goodness often keeps people from making careless mistakes. After all, people are representatives of Christ and goodness must be evident in each person. Faith in Christ helps people to abandon the desire to do bad things.
Like a plant that is cultivated and cared for, Christian faith can bare the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Baring these fruits is not so difficult if taking the time to pray, read God's Word, surround life with fellow believers, worship regularly and commit to tithing. By doing this, believers will not only see more good in others, he or she will see their own relationship with God grow stronger. Jesus said that the meek are blessed. The meek are those who turn the other cheek. Sometimes people want to fight back, but with the Holy Spirit each person will find that meekness is a valuable way to spread the Gospel. Even Christ had His meek moments, such as when the soldiers took Him away from the garden. He displayed great temperance or self-control when He resisted the temptation of the devil in the desert. With the fruits of the Holy Spirit within a person and is easier to resist temptation and maintain temperance. Self-control is an important fruit because God is always watching.
Real integrity can have affect on our personal environment and those who come in and out of our influence, even though current culture explains away the concept of its relevance. It has been said that to be true to oneself is to have this quality. Some define this concept as an undivided completeness with nothing wanting while others give the definition of integrity as the inner sense of wholeness. In any case, there is much more to this definition because of its affect on the inner peace of a person and moral uprightness that will affect every person that that one comes in contact with. This is why the Bible is explicit that the Christian man or woman walk a life of such high standing. It will affect one's own soul and the souls of those around them. For more information, please take this Integrity Quiz.
When searching the scriptures, we find that much of God's Word addresses a person's actions and their impact on others. In the book of Ephesians, Paul the Apostle addresses spiritual lifestyles, which are a direct result of moral or material behaviors and values. Paul appears to be saying that to walk the path of personal uprightness, is to follow in God's footsteps or better said, God's character. God, creator and the personification of this concept of upright behavior and values; the ultimate Being of integrity, calls His chosen to mirror His character as a testimony to the world of His love and patience. "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour." (Ephesians 5:2). The results of living after the Creator's example will have a sweet aroma - a lingering after effect - on those around us.
Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus is a call to the people of that congregation to live a life worthy of the calling of Christ. A high calling equates to high standards of living, and living with the corporate and personal upright living expected by God, who gave Christ as the perfect example. Paul gives the young church examples of personal and spiritual and godly character and the pattern of lifestyle to follow in living with integrity. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains the true definition of integrity to Christs followers as a 'new man,' who doesn't live life as a lie. Such a life recognizes that others are important and have immense value to God, treating others as he wishes to be treated, and, caring for others. Click this link for more great Bible resources.
This upright lifestyle also loves others. Christ taught that we are to love each other, as He loved us and as the Father loves us. Our character is proven by the way we treat others, even those who are difficult to deal with. Paul further explains why a life of godly character is important. Further examples of this lifestyle of exemplary character can also be gleaned from the Psalms which teaches that the behaviors and values of such a lifestyle will have a persevering result on us, when we walk with personal uprightness. And in the Proverbs we find that these values work as a guide for life. The Bible provides us with the clear definition of integrity and how this lifestyle will reap bountiful fruit with eternal rewards. To discover more about Biblical and personal character, click the links below and take a quiz to determine how much is known about the life walk. Take the Bible Quiz above, it may open eyes to more truths about integrity and how the people of faith before us walked in Gods true honor and purpose.
Sin and RepentanceSin and repentance are central to the Christian religion, ever-present reminders of why God's son came to live among us, eventually dying on the cross. Scripture tells us the very first humans sinned when they failed to obey God's instructions in the Garden of Eden. We all inherited that tendency of disobedience, requiring regret in order to receive God's forgiveness. The good news is that forgiveness is never withheld from a repentant sinner. The believer will grow in strength to avoid evil in the future through prayer.
God's Word has quite a lot to say about sin and repentance, from the very beginning in Genesis to the book of Revelation. We are all branded with original disobedience of Adam along with Eve until we are baptized. With baptism, we are cleansed of that original act of disobedience, becoming followers of Jesus the Christ, whose death on the cross gave us the promise of eternal life for ourselves. However, we have always had the gift of free will. Our human weakness for selfishness, self-indulgence, greed, etc. give us ample occasions for disobeying God even after baptism. This human weakness repeats itself one generation after the next. Our faith in the Lord allows us to overcome our weaknesses, confessing our sins to receive forgiveness.
Old Testament descriptions of how one should express regret in the books of II Samuel, I Kings, as well as Jonah was with fasting, tearing the upper garment, wearing sackcloth, as well as sleeping on the ground. The Prophet Joel, on the other hand, said "Rend your heart, and not our garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy, and repenteth him of the evil." (Joel 2:13) How much it is like the Christian view! Learn God's Word by taking a Bible Quiz.
The Commandments were the primary Old Testament set of laws given for man's guidance, then Jesus' exhortation to love God with our whole mind, heart, as well as soul; to love one another as ones self; to treat others as we want to be treated. Penance, then, is being truly sorry for the deliberate breaking of those laws that result in breaking our bond with Christ, then changing our lives so as not to commit the wrong again. It can also involve, where possible, repairing the damage done by our mistakes by seeking forgiveness from the person we wronged. That seems pretty humiliating, but when grave sins have been committed, humiliation is appropriate.
Christians believe once sins have been forgiven, the "slate" (as it were) is wiped clean, and the sinner never has to think about that again. One story that illustrates that is the little girl who said her prayers one evening. She told Jesus about the bad things she had done that day, asking forgiveness, then went to her other prayers. The next morning, she told her mother she had forgotten to tell the Lord one thing the night before. Her mother told her it would be all right to include it the next night. That night, the little girl said: "Jesus, I need to add something to those things I told you last night," proceeding to tell him what it was. Jesus replied, "I've already forgotten what you said, and now you can forget it too."
God's Word gives us plenty of encouragement in our relationship with Him. One of the ways in which evil is particularly affecting us in modern society is the constant portrayal of disobedience of God in the media, not as sinful, but as "normal." Gutter language, outrageous sexual conduct, as well as a lack of respect are just some examples of sinful conduct that demeans the human person, diminishing us all. Christians are called by their faith to discourage these evils by not attending those films or watching the shows on TV. They are to live as Christ lived, setting an example for the younger generation.
A pride quiz can provide some insight into whether or not ones idea of pride is in keeping with a Biblical perspective. Prideful people are mentioned often in the Bible, and the most famous quote comes from Proverbs 16:8, which says "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." When self-importance reaches the point of making a person self-centered and uncharitable, its a destructive force against one's own spiritual well being, and should be guarded against. Love, which is at the center of Christianity, cannot exist beside that kind of pride.
Pride, when giving the credit to God first, can be a positive force. We can take pleasure in our appearance by being clean, neatly dressed, and combing our hair while remembering God gave us our bodies. We can take honor in the work we do so it's a credit to the gifts and talents God has given us. Students should be proud about school work by doing the very best at assigned studies, again, remembering the ability to learn has been given by God. God has given us freedom and democracy and we need to take pride in our country so that being a good citizen is important to us. Prideful people, in these ways, are acceptable to God.
It is the self-prideful attitude that is dangerous. We have seen it in the actions of dictators and kings who acquire such great power and believe they are gods. It is when arrogance makes them lose all compassion and caring for their people that their reigns become evil. This is the kind of haughtiness that is totally unacceptable from a Biblical perspective. The aforementioned pride quiz contains many ways in which this type of attitude is unacceptable, and it takes quiz takers on an interesting tour of Biblical references regarding prideful attitudes that many Christians have not read before.
There are other ways to check one's perceptions to see if these beliefs are in line with the Bible, but the pride quiz is an excellent (and fun) way to do it. The Internet has become a very useful tool for self-improvement. Unfortunately, there are even more sites that seek to undermine morality with smutty material. Christians can use the Internet to seek out Bible studies, and web sites that give individuals access to a wide variety of intellectual material that is wholesome. For the Christian, this is important knowledge.
The Lord commends Christians for constantly evaluating the relationship with Him and for seeking continued growth. The pride quiz may bring to light personal perceptions and attitudes that may run contrary to Biblical principles. The Bible instructs us not to be of this world. Often, the cultural perceptions regarding a prideful attitude seep into a Christians walk. Perhaps ones attitude has grown askew and he or she needs to recenter this attitude on Biblical teaching. Test takers should not be hasty to dismiss the results, but rather reflect upon them. Prideful people miss the boat often because they usually think they already know everything they need to know. They refuse to use the good qualities God gave them to improve their life and the lives of those around them. Instead, arrogant individuals pursue selfish goals that starve their spirits and dull their intellectual capacity.
Arrogant people make foolish decisions that are harmful to themselves and those around them, but they often don't see it until it's too late. Josef Stalin, for instance, never repented of his gruesome tortures and killings before his death, but remained full of pride in his evil ways. We haven't heard a word of apology from Fidel Castro either. Has Sadaam Hussein spoken one word of sorrow over the millions of people who died at the hands of his torturers? These prideful people are the kind spoken of in Scripture. They left no room in their lives for God to work, and millions have suffered for it.
For those who enjoy puzzles and quizzes that initiate reflection and thinking, consider taking quizzes designed to assess how ones attitude is in alignment with the beliefs and values God wishes Christians to attain. The results may be surprising. At the very least, one will recognize arrogant people and their true goals very easily, and will be armed against letting pride become ones own downfall.