Vol. 2 Issue 9February 29, 2008
The weekly newsletter of True Potential Publishing
â€œBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.â€ (Galatians 5: 22-23)
Weâ€™ve been at this study of the fruit of the Spirit for eight weeks now; and weâ€™ve got one week yet to go. Why spend nine weeks studying two Bible verses when this weekly letter is supposed to be about finding and achieving purpose in our lives?
The reason weâ€™ve spent so long on the fruit of the Spirit is the same reason I started this letter in the first place. Itâ€™s the reason I started True Potential Publishing. A lot of what weâ€™ve been told, a lot of what weâ€™ve come to believe, about purpose, success, achievement, fulfillment, meaning and human potential is wrong. It starts in the wrong place; which means you end up in the wrong place.
The nine attributes of fruit of the Spirit, spelled out in Galatians 5: 22-23 are absolutely key to understanding Godâ€™s perspective of what we ought to be. The term â€œfruitâ€ means â€œend productâ€ or â€œresult.â€ The â€œresultâ€ of Godâ€™s Spirit dwelling inside of you is (or should be) these nine attributes weâ€™ve been studying. And, as weâ€™ve discovered, these attributes God expects us to exhibit are really attributes of God Himself. Godâ€™s purpose for us is to be more like Him. The Bible calls it â€œbeing conformed to the likeness of his son.â€ (Romans 8:29)
Theyâ€™re the building blocks of human purpose. Purpose begins with being conformed into the likeness of God. The tragedy of the worldâ€™s concept of manâ€™s purpose is that it begins and ends with man. They start in the wrong place â€¦ theyâ€™ve got to end up in the wrong place.
There may be no better example of the difference between Godâ€™s idea of success and manâ€™s idea of success than the idea of â€œgentleness.â€ Another word for gentleness is meekness. Both gentleness and meekness portray a sense of submission. From manâ€™s perspective, meekness means weakness. From Godâ€™s perspective, nothing could be further from the truth.
Gentleness is a measure of true strength and maturity. Itâ€™s a sign that Iâ€™m taking on the attributes and perspective of God. Gentleness speaks of relationship on three levels: my relationship with God, my relationship with others and my relationship with myself.
A gentle spirit in my relationship with God is a sign of trust. Itâ€™s a sign that Iâ€™m relying on God to act on my behalf; relying on Godâ€™s strength rather than my own. Itâ€™s submission to Him; the understanding that Heâ€™s the author of my purpose and destiny and that His will for my life isnâ€™t up for a vote. Itâ€™s His plan, Heâ€™s in charge, Heâ€™s the potter and Iâ€™m the clay.
Even understanding that, when life is looking up, I have a tendency to revert back to relying on myself. When life is good itâ€™s easy for me to trust in me. I donâ€™t know why itâ€™s so easy for me to slip into the habit of self-confidence when things are going good, but it seems to be a universal phenomenon.
Our society as a whole may be suffering from the good-times self-confidence disease. As a culture, weâ€™ve had it pretty good for a long time. The better things are the less we feel we need to include God in our daily plans.
Iâ€™ve got to admit, I like it better when things are going well than I do when things are going bad. I donâ€™t want to wish any hardship on myself or on our nation as a whole, but it seems to be a truth that we reach out to God more when things go wrong.
Even when things begin to go wrong, I still believe I can keep things under control through my own efforts. When I start to see things go south, my first response is to jump in and fix it; as if the problem isnâ€™t worthy of relying on Godâ€™s help if I think I can still handle it on my own.
Finally, when things have gotten so far beyond my control that I have no hope of fixing them without help I cry out to God, â€œOh God, Youâ€™re in control. Please get me out of this!â€ THEN, my problems are worthy of Godâ€™s attention.
I may feel in control sometimes, I may feel like Iâ€™m loosing control sometimes and I may feel like things are completely out of control sometimes. The reality is that Iâ€™m fooling myself to ever think that I had any real control in the first place. It would be a lot easier just to trust in Him whether things are good, bad or in between.
When I know that God, provides for me, defends me, and guides me, itâ€™s easier for me to regard others with a gentle spirit.
Why should I be offended if Iâ€™m not responsible for my defense? Why should I be proud or haughty if God fights my battles and wins my victories?Why should I compete or argue? Who am I really competing or arguing with? God has reserved my job for me since the beginning of time. Am I really competing with Bob, in the next office, for that? If I take my orders from God, who would I argue with and what would I argue about? If thereâ€™s a real argument to be had, let the other guy argue with God. Heâ€™s my defender and His win/loss record is pretty spectacular.
Gentleness with others is a sign of strength and maturity. Competition and discord with others is a sign of spiritual immaturity and weakness.
Another reason for having a gentle spirit with others is that gentleness is an attribute of God. If Christ showed gentleness and compassion to me, shouldnâ€™t I show gentleness and compassion to others?
Lastly I should have a gentle spirit with myself. It may sound a little weird at first, to be gentle with myself, but thatâ€™s where most issues of gentleness toward others come from. There are a lot of self-generated emotions that can not only screw up my relationship with myself but spill over into my relationship with others and with God. Worry, fear, anger, bitterness, self-interest, ambition, and pride are all self-generated and are all signs of who Iâ€™m putting my trust in.
If I really believe that God has a plan for me, that He loves me and takes care of my needs, that he defends me; what do I have to be afraid of or worry about? Who am I going to hold a grudge against?
If Iâ€™m under orders from Him; If Iâ€™ve already submitted myself to His plan for me, what place do self-interest, selfish ambition or pride have in my life. Heâ€™s in charge. I work for Him. I donâ€™t have a plan outside of His plan. Outside of what He wants for me, I have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about nothing to strive for.
Gentleness (King James would have said meekness) is really a very peaceful and a very powerful place to be. Itâ€™s peaceful in that I donâ€™t have to create a way on my own. Heâ€™s already made the way, I just have to listen and obey. Iâ€™ve already submitted my will to His so I donâ€™t have to worry about getting my own way, whatever that is.
I donâ€™t have to worry about competing with others. I already have a custom plan to follow, made up for me by the Creator of the universe at the beginning of time. Who would I compete against?
Gentleness is powerful in that I work for God. I belong to Him. Who or what can stand against that?
If youâ€™re worried that submitting to God will somehow take away your freedom or limit your options, think again. Life is submission. Your only choice is who youâ€™re going to submit to. Submit to the Creator of the universe, the One who planned for you when He brought everything into existence, and youâ€™ll be given power to stand against any power or authority in existence. Try to hold on to your â€œfree agencyâ€ and youâ€™ll find yourself a slave to every petty dictator of your time and attention that comes along.
Weâ€™ve been sold a lie. The world wants us to believe that gentleness, meekness, is weakness and slavery. The truth is just the opposite. Thereâ€™s no one as powerful and no one as free as someone who has submitted his or her will to the God of the universe. Out of that power and freedom comes a gentle spirit. Itâ€™s being conformed into the image of Christ. Who could ask for more?