Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 33
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Now, do you know this morning that you can fake all the gifts? Do you know that? Any of them, you can fake it, but you cannot fake the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in a person’s life. You cannot fake the fruit.|
The Fruit of the Spirit – Part 2
Turn with me to Galatians 5:22. And we almost will get into verse 23, not quite, but that’s where we are. I am so excited to be in this. We had to go through the 5:19-21 to get here. I’m glad we’re here. Now, do you know this morning that you can fake all the gifts? Do you know that? Any of them, you can fake it, but you cannot fake the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in a person’s life. You cannot fake the fruit. A lot of people say, “Well, this person’s filled with the Spirit because he does this or he does that.” Well, listen, this is the key to being filled with the Spirit of God. If this character is not in your life, you are not walking under the control of the Spirit of God. This is so important for us to understand. This is what it is to experience Christ in our life. Verses 22-23, let me just read it for you, “But the fruit of Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
You know, the Christian life is so awesome when we just simply choose to walk by the Spirit of God. When we choose to be willingly led by the Spirit of God it’s incredible what God does. That’s 5:16, 18. Paul says “Walk by the Spirit,” be led by the Spirit of God. Those who are led by the Spirit are not under law. It’s only then that we experience Christ, now hang on to this now; we’ve been saying for 18 months, Christ living His life in and through us. That’s what we call living grace. Saving grace is that Christ is the only means of salvation. We understand that. Living grace, though, is Christ living His life in and through us once we’re saved, as we learn to walk by the Spirit of God.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I who live,” you know this verse by heart by now, “but Christ lives,” where does He live? “in me.” He lives in me. Now if He lives in me, I get to experience Him. It’s not me trying to be like Him, it’s Jesus being Jesus in me and in you, “and the life which I now live in the flesh,” Paul says “I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Christ reproduces His life in us. His actual character is produced in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Both Romans and Galatians identify the Spirit as being the Spirit of Christ. All of His character, all of the character of Christ that is produced in our life is wrapped up in one word. That’s incredible, and that’s the word “love.” That’s who He is. He’s not like love, He is love. Now remember, it’s not just love that we experience here when we walk by the Spirit. It is His love that we experience. Christ’s love is the essence of the fruit that is produced by the Holy Spirit. We saw that last week.
Galatians 5:22 again, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Now, the word “fruit” is singular. That tells us something. It points to the nine characteristics that are mentioned in verses 22 and 23, then tells us they’re in a cluster. It’s different from the deeds of the flesh. Deeds of the flesh, that’s a plural word. You may, when you choose to walk after the flesh, you may fall to some of those traps, but not all of them at the same time. However, when you walk in the Spirit, when you walk by the Spirit all of these nine things have to be in your life at one time. But really don’t worry about that; it’s just simply Jesus being Jesus in your life.
The word for “love” is the word agape. Agape is the deep inner resolve. It’s a choice. It’s not a feeling. It’s a choice of deep inner resolve to do what is spiritually necessary for our brother in Christ and really for anyone else. It doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter the cost. It doesn’t matter what it cost us. That’s what this love is all about. The definite article is not used there, which means it’s going to characterize; we’re going to see what this love is like and that’s what those other eight characteristics are all about when this love is being produced within us. We saw the inward effectiveness of this love. It’s incredible. It’s what changed the apostle John and made him into the apostle of love. It’s what changes all of us. It’s a love of Christ in us. And as we begin to comprehend it, as Ephesians says, to the length and the depth and the breath and the height, we begin to comprehend it as we walk strengthened in the inner man, it changes us on the inside. It’s incredible. God gives us the discernment to know the needs of our brother.
And then He gives us two things that we looked at last time, and that’s joy and peace. Once we have that resolve, once we see what the need is and God gives us the resolve to move to meet that true need, not a felt need, then something happens to us. It’s like a joy that floods our soul, because it’s the joy of knowing that God’s in control of all of this. This is not my idea. We didn’t come up with this in a committee meeting. This is something God put on my heart. This is something God gave me the discernment to understand and now He’s in charge and leading me. But not only is there that deep inner rejoicing, there is that awesome, awesome peace of God that floods your soul, a sense of well-being to know that you’re being a part of God’s business and that you join Him in what He’s doing on this earth through the lives of people that are surrendered to Him.
Now, make sure you’re putting all this together. I’m going to say this over and over again, because we’re doing three at a time it seems like, and you can get disjointed. No, you’ve got to keep it together. You’ve got to keep it together. The love is the key. Love is the key, everything else is just characterizing that word “love.” So when Wayne is walking in the Spirit, when you are walking in the Spirit, we begin to discern needs of people like we haven’t seen before. Felt needs and real needs are two different things and no man in a group can come up with a real need. Only God can give that discernment. And once you have it, you have that inner resolve to meet that need no matter what it costs you, because it’s a spiritual benefit to your brother. And with that comes the joy and the peace and that inward effectiveness of that love is incredible. And that’s what we looked the last time.
This is Christ living His life in and through us. It’s nothing mystical. It’s just Christ being who He is. He’s still on earth. “Oh, but brother Wayne, He’s at the right hand of the Father.” I know that, but in His Spirit He still lives on earth in the lives of people who are truly walking by the Spirit. People can still see Him. They see Him every day. They see Him in you and in me.
Well, we’ve looked at the inward effectiveness. Now we’re going to look at the outward example of God’s love. That’s what we want to see next, the outward example of God’s word. Now, the words that we’re going to come to now, each one of them, again tied to that word “love,” teach us a lot about how this is going to be perceived by other people. Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,” and then he adds an interesting word, “patience.” The word “patience,” quickly tells us that there are going to be some brothers there in the body of Christ that are going to be the odd brothers. The only problem with that statement is, every time I think somebody else is an odd brother, they’re looking at me saying the same thing. It’s in the eye of the beholder. But there are going to be some interesting people in the body of Christ.
You see, you would not need, or I would not need this love if there were not some unloving people out there. If there were not any unloving people we could just love everybody because everybody’d love us back. That’s the whole bottom line of what Paul’s trying to say here in Galatians. There are some people like that in the body of Christ and we’re all going to have to deal with them down the road and that’s why Paul is telling us what he’s telling us. The beautiful thing is that God—listen to this—God gives us a resolve in our hearts—now listen to me—not only to know their need, but to meet the need of those kinds of people that are in the body of Christ. You tell me that somebody is filled with the Spirit because he’s speaking another tongue, stand on his head, stack BB’s. Listen, that doesn’t impress me a bit, not one bit. What impresses me is when I see a person that’s being chewed up, and I mean spit out by somebody turn right around and love that person and meet the need of that person, that’s what God is all about.
The resolve to meet their spiritual need will also involve the very patience of Christ Himself. Now understand, it’s not just patience, it’s His patience. We’re experiencing Him, folks. We’re experiencing Him. It’s not just patience, it’s His patience. The word for patience is the word makrothumia. Makro means long, and the word thumia means passionate suffering, long passionate endurance, or suffering with somebody. It’s the characteristic of God. It’s how He looks at you and I. It is longsuffering. It’s the supernatural ability to tolerate a person whose behavior and demeanor is irritating to say the least. We think we’ve had it bad in putting up with unlovable people, but just think of what God has to put up with. Have you ever thought about that? If it’s His patience, look who He has to put up with. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, look in the mirror real carefully when you go home today. You know just the very fact that He puts up with us shows the patience that God has.
Paul was so honest. I love the apostle Paul. And in 1 Timothy 1:16 he made a statement. He said, “Yet for this reason I found mercy,” this is Paul talking, “so that in me as the foremost, the chief, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience,” watch this, “as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” What Paul just simply said there was that he was the kind of sinner that Jesus came to save, and implied with the word “patience” means, Paul says, “I was obnoxious, hard-headed, opinionated, but God had patience with me and brought me to my salvation.” He said, “I was an example of how God has patience for all of us.”
God’s patience is remarkable. It’s remarkable, His willingness to put up with folks. And I have to say it again, like me. Why does He put up with me? I don’t know. But it’s because of who He is, and His love is filled with His patience. Don’t separate the two. Because He loves us He’s patient with us. Just to think that we can actually experience His patience towards others.
Now the apostle Paul speaks to the religious Jews in Romans 2. He’s identified his audience in verse 17 as being the Jewish, religious Jews there. And again, I’m not knocking Israel. I’m just saying these were the hard-liners. These were the ones who adamantly rejected Jesus as the Messiah and were very ruthless in what they did. Romans 2:4 he makes a statement to them, he says, “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness?” Look what the words he puts together here, “kindness, tolerance, and patience.” Does that tell you about the behavior and demeanor of others? “Not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” You know what Paul is saying to them? Don’t you understand how God has put up with you to this point? Now if He’s saying that to Israel, think what we Gentiles have to think about. We were the pagan world. And he said, he’s reminding them of the longsuffering of God. We’re studying the book of Judges on Wednesday nights, and we start walking that cycle of sin. They go from sin to sorrow to salvation to security, to sin, to sorrow and it’s just a cycle. They just continued not to be willing to trust God, and yet He loved them and He was patient with them, endured their behavior.
When we walk by the Spirit, which Paul talks about in Ephesians a little bit differently—see, it’s not the same; the Bible doesn’t say seven different things. It says the same thing seven different ways—let me just read it for you. Ephesians 4, Paul says in verse 1, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord implore you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling.” That’s the same thing as walking by the Spirit. That’s the same thing as being filled with the Spirit. That’s the same thing as walking in the light. That’s the same thing as abiding in the vine. “Walk in a manner worthy of your calling.” And then in verse 2, he shows you what’s going to come out of that. “With humility, and all humility and gentleness,” and then he adds our word, “with patience,” and he begins to give us another clue that we’re going to need it, “showing tolerance for one another in love.”
That’s interesting to me. He talks about Jew and Gentile in chapter 2, and actually that’s what he’s trying to show here, having tolerance for one another. And then he says in verse 3, “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And I want you to notice, he didn’t say “produce.” You can’t produce unity in a group of people. Only God can produce it. He’s told us to preserve it, not to produce it. And what preserves it is when people walk by the Spirit of God and the love of Jesus is being manifested in their life and they’re seeing the need of each other and they’re filled with joy, His peace as they go about meeting the needs of others and then with the patience to tolerate the people that are unloving.
When I first went into ministry honest and truthfully, I believed at that point in my life—to show you how ridiculous it was—I believed that everybody in the church just loved Jesus, was in the Word every day, walked with Him. And when we came to church it was going to be like revival every time I came to church. That’s what I thought when I went into it. Oh, brother! Now my son and my son-in-law are in the ministry, and they’re beginning to learn what Paul is trying to tell us: that there are going to be hard-headed people in the body of Christ. I’ve been one of them. Have you been one of them? I have been one of them that will not walk by the Spirit of God and therefore you’re going to have to deal with them. How do you deal with somebody that’s unloving and irritable and just can’t say nice things? Paul says you love them; and the only way you can love them is the Spirit of God has to produce it in your life and He’ll give you a joy and a peace that even if you deal with the irritating people, and He’ll give you even a patience to endure to stay with them.
Well, as I said earlier, this very word “patience” tells us all. We’re now seeing the type of people that are in the body of Christ. You know, if everybody was just like us it’d be okay, wouldn’t it. I’ve said it many times; if it wasn’t for people I could live the Christian life. But that’s a wrong statement. If it wasn’t for people, then I wouldn’t need that which God has given me to live the Christian life. If I had said it right in the first place, that’s the way to say it. Let’s go to Colossians 3. Now, Paul does a very similar thing here. Again he’s showing us that everybody’s not going to be full of joy all the time and you’re going to have to deal with that. Colossians 3:12, “So as those who have been chosen of God holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Now, if you’ve studied Colossians and Ephesians all he just simply said was put on Christ because these are things that speak of Him.
But then watch what he does here. Verse 13, “Bearing with one another.” What does that tell you? If we had a discussion time right now, what is that going to tell you right here? “Bearing with one another.” Why would we have to bear with one another if everybody’s walking by the Spirit? Everybody’s not walking by the Spirit, so therefore, “Bear with one another and forgiving each other.” Why would you have to forgive each other if you’re in the body of Christ and having revival all the time? Because people are going to do things to you in the body of Christ you’re not going to like, but God’s going to change your response. You won’t react, you’ll respond. You’ll respond in the love He has if you’ll walk by the Spirit of God. “Whoever has a complaint against anyone,” —that never happens in the church! —“just as the Lord forgave you,” look at the measure here, “Just as the Lord forgave you unconditionally,” he says what? “or so also should you.” As the Lord forgave you so also should you.
Peter shows us again that we’re going to run into this kind of thing, but he makes another point. Peter wants to make sure that the wrong reactions you’re getting from people is not because of your own wrong reactions towards them, or actions towards them. And so he says in 1 Peter 2:20, “For what credit is there if when you sin and are harshly treated you endure it with patience?” There’s our word. He says that doesn’t mean anything. I mean, you deserved it to start with. But then he said “But if when you do what is right and you suffer for it you patiently endure that, or do it, this finds favor with God.” Now wait a minute, make sure you understand what he’s not saying. Some people are going to treat you wrong because you’ve treated them wrong. But he says now listen, when you’re doing what is right, you’re walking by the Spirit and you suffer because of that and then you’re patient, that’s God in you. That’s God in you and that’s worthy. That’s noteworthy.
The word “patience,” the very patience of Christ Himself, is manifest in us when we’re walking by the Spirit of God, when we’re experiencing His love for one another in the body of Christ, when we are filled with His joy and peace as we seek to be about that which He is doing in and through us. And it’s always geared toward the person who treats us in a very irritably, irritable way.
Well, the people that are intolerable are all around us. But he adds a word to that word “patience.” And the word “patience” is first of all the ability to tolerate, to bear up under in a sense. There’s another word for circumstances, hupomone, but this is the word makrothumia, which has to do with people. But then he adds another word that’ll help us out. He says, “kindness,” patience, kindness. You see, we’re not talking about grin and bear it. A lot of people hear this message and say, “Well I guess I better love them and just suck it up. Boy, grin and bear it and you can deal.” No, that’s not what we’re talking about at all. In fact, if you’re dealing with the character of Jesus, not only is He patient, but there is a kindness that goes along with that.
Now, let me explain the word “kindness” because we need to understand this, all of us. The word “kindness” is the word chrestotes. It does not necessarily refer to what a person does. I guarantee you if you’re thinking of the word “kindness” right now you’re thinking about what somebody did that was a kind act towards you. That’s not what he’s talking about. That comes up next. What he’s talking about right here is the tender heart that a person has before he ever does anything. It’s talking about the heart of the individual. It’s talking about the motivation of the individual, not grin and bear it. It’s a true love here, and that true love is manifested in a tender heart towards people around them.
It’s associated with the love of Christ in Titus 3. Let me just read it for you. Titus 3:4, “But when the kindness of God, our Savior and His love for mankind appear.” The kindness of God, our Savior and His love appear. The two are tied together. That’s exactly the way God looked at us in this world, irritating to Him, except He loved the sinner and He hated the sin. And with His kindness and His love and His patience and His joy and His peace He came to die for us on the cross. That’s God’s intention towards you and me.
This is a beautiful word, this word “kindness.” God’s love so tenderizes us when we experience Him in our life. It just melts us down. You can’t be mad at somebody if you’re in the presence of God. You can’t do it! You can’t even have a wrong thought towards them when you’re in the presence of God. God tenderizes you and settles you down and melts your heart down. That’s what he’s talking about. It’s when the sting has been taken out of your heart when you see somebody. You know what I’m talking about? Every one of us has been there. Somebody hurts you, says something, you find out about it, does whatever, and you have a stinging in your heart and you don’t even want to see them. When you see them coming down the aisle you’ll walk another way just to get around them. But when you’re walking by the Spirit of God, God tenderizes you and removes the sting that’s in your heart and gives you a love for that person. That’s God working in you and in me. It’s kindness. It’s His kindness.
The word “kindness” is the word used for wine that is mellow. Luke 5:39 has an interesting statement here. It says, “And no one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new.” It says, “For he says the old is good enough.” You know what that word “good enough” is? That’s our word, “kindness,” chrestotes. In other words, it’s mellowed out. It’s smooth. It does not have a sting to it and they like that old, whatever it is. Now you probably, some of you all maybe could help me with that. I don’t fully understand it, but I’m getting the picture.
A person walks in the Spirit of God is not caustic in any way. Are you caustic in any way? Do you like to make your point known right now? Do you like to do that? Or when people are around you is it just smooth and the mellow character of Jesus because He’s in control and you’re so loving that, brother, you don’t have anything caustic to say. Isn’t it incredible? Well, people that are walking by the Spirit are always looking out for the needs of others because they’re the only ones who know what those needs are. God has to show them. And these are the people that are filled with rejoicing and peace in their heart because they know they’re being about what God does. But outwardly God gives them a patience, but not only that, a kindness.
I mean, I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff these days that says nice people finish last. Well, then I want somebody to come and explain to me the character of Jesus that’s produced in our life out of this passage and then back up that statement. I don’t find that in the Word of God. I find that Jesus would not quench the smoking flask. Nor would he crush a bruised reed. I find that He was such a calm individual that even when He took a whip in the temple they knew who He was because all of His attributes were working. I find Jesus being called the Lamb of God which the dove came and rested upon and if you’ve ever been around a dove, they’re the most nervous creatures that ever flew in the heavens, and yet only a lamb is gentle enough for a dove to rest upon. It’s the character of Jesus, folks. We need to get off this kick about the wheel that squeaks gets oiled and get with walking by the Spirit, because the character and demeanor of an individual who knows Jesus and walks in His love, he’s been mellowed out. He’s been smoothed out. The caustic qualities of his life have been erased and there’s a pure love for people that he deals with.
This word of “kindness” is used in Matthew to show how precious His intentions are for you and me when we surrender to Him. He says in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is,” what? You know the word, “light.” You know what the word “easy” is? It’s our word, chrestotes. My yoke is kind. I don’t have hard intentions for you. I have wonderful intentions for you and “My burden is light.” You know, even His commandments are not burdensome. Do you realize that when you’re walking by the Spirit? First John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome.” The only people they’re burdensome to are those who don’t want to do them.
So patience, kindness, and then Paul begins to show the outward manifestation of—this is the first time we’ve seen it—the actual deeds that are done. He begins to show it in action. And it’s our third word. It’s the word “goodness.” Galatians 5:22 again, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love,” His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness. The word “goodness” there is the word agathosune. It’s the word that means to do something for somebody that is so benevolent that person probably can never pay you back, but it really ministers to their need. That’s that word. And there’s no thought in this for yourself whatsoever. This is totally benevolent good. There’s another word for “good” which means constitutional good. This is the word that means benevolent good, the way God is to you and to me. People that don’t deserve it, probably their behavior’s obnoxious, but God in us directs us to do for them what they need.
It is this goodness, by the way, that baffles the people that are in authority. Do realize that Christians are the biggest problem to Christianity? If we’d walk in the Spirit, you see, that’s the garment of Ephesians 4. If we’d walk in the Spirit, walk by the Spirit, then God would produce a character within our lives that disarms the pagans in this world, particularly in government. The reason governments have been so harsh many times has been because of the characteristics of believers. They’re wearing the wrong garment. It says in Romans 13—which is the issue that Paul’s dealing with, of Roman government and a pagan government and how do you respond to a pagan government—and he says in verse 3, “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior.”
My wife’s so funny. We’ll be riding down the road and there’ll be a policeman and she’ll just beat me up letting me know that policeman is sitting there. And I said, “The wicked flee when no one pursues.” You know, “I’m not doing anything wrong.” But she’s always making sure that I notice that policeman wherever it is. I mean that. And isn’t it funny how we all are? If we’re doing good you don’t have to fear that. That’s what he says. “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.” “Do you want to have no fear of authority?” Paul says, and I imagine every one of them said whoa, yeah. “Do what is good and you’ll have praise from the same.” Do what is good. What do you mean good? I don’t mean help a little person across the street. It means do something benevolently good for them that has no thought of return back to yourself. That’s divine. We can come up with other excuses for what we call good. I’m talking about what God wants to do through our lives.
Over in Romania the pagan government of the Communists in a particular city, they had a church that wanted to build, the pastor wanted to build a church. They didn’t have a building and they were growing. And he went to the mayor, which was right, and the mayor said absolutely not. So they got together and they began to pray and said, “God, we don’t know what to do. We can’t go beyond what they’ve told us.” And so God put on their hearts to love those people. God created a love for those Communists people. They went back to them and said, “Do you have any building projects you have going on around the town?” And they said, “Yes we do.” And they said, “Can we help you?” And they said, “Well, we haven’t got any money to pay you.” “Oh no, we will do this for free. We just want to help you.” And they began to build some of the projects that they had around the town.
And the mayor just couldn’t believe it, and he went to the leader of the believers there. He says, “What is it about your people? They work so much harder. They have such a greater character. They have a smile on their face. We have people we pay and we can’t get them to work this hard, and they certainly don’t have the right attitude. What’s the difference?” And they were able to share Christ with him. And he said, “I’ll tell you one thing. Because of the way you have acted, you build your church.” And by the way, I’ve preached in it and I tell you what, it’s beautiful because of the testimony of believers who walked by the Spirit of God. You see, that’s what we’re talking about. That’s what God produces in our life.
Let me tell you another passage. Romans 12. I want you notice a verse here that God has to remind me of from time to time. You know, it’s bad when you’re 6’7” and you weigh 260 and you can handle a lot of things, when God says “I’m sorry, Wayne, you can’t use an ounce of it. You do it My way. I’ll produce something in you that’s different.” Romans 12:19 says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.” In other words, God will handle it. Don’t you worry about it. He says, “For it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” That word “vengeance” is not vengeance; it’s righteousness is Mine. You see, righteousness means you’re just and only God knows how to judge. He says, “I’ll repay that exactly what is owed. I’m not like you, Wayne. You would overpay.”
You see, if I was one of the two witnesses in Revelation there wouldn’t be a person living, because you know, when you get on the Interstate highway, they speak and flames come out. I’d just burn all the cars. I mean, He says, “Wayne, you’re not the one, son. I’m the one, and I judge righteously. Righteousness is Mine. Justice is Mine.” And he says in verse 20, he tells you, now what do you do? “But if your enemy’s hungry feed him, and if he’s thirsty give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil.” Now look at this. “But overcome evil with” what? “With good.” What kind of good? Benevolent good, which never has a thought for yourself, only for the need of the person no matter if he’s a pagan or what. That’s what God creates into our life.
The word “goodness” can be manifested through what you say to somebody. And I want to tell you, people that say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me, they lie. I’d much rather be beaten, wouldn’t you? Boy, those words are much more powerful tools to bring you down. And it says in Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth,” no rotten, stinky, smelly word. That’s what the word means. “But only such a word as is,” here we come, “is good,” benevolently good. And what’s it good for? Edification, building somebody up, not tearing them down. “According to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” It’s amazing how some people can be, and I can be. Just give me half a chance and I’ll be the same way, mean-spirited, obnoxious, opinionated, have an agenda I want to fight over. And then God tenderizes your heart. Isn’t it awesome! And for those people that treat you that way, it even gives you a love for them and you even see what their need is and you want to meet their need.
So we have the inward effectiveness, the outward example of God’s love, and this love disarms the people that are having so much to say about us. But there’s one more. The upward excellence of God’s love. Now we’ve got three and we had these today and then have this one right here. The upward excellence of God’s love. We’ve got the inward effectiveness: we’ve got love, joy and peace. We’ve got the outward example, which is patience, kindness, and goodness. And now we have the upward excellence of God’s love. I’m telling you when you see this it has to point to God. It can’t point anywhere else. The final three things he mentions, and I will not get to them, only one. Galatians 5:22, he adds, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,” and then he says “faithfulness.”
Now, the word “faithfulness” is the word pistis. It means a firm persuasion that has totally radically affected my behavior. Now, I want to tell you something. You don’t have faith, or you don’t believe, if that doesn’t change your behavior. If behavior doesn’t change then all you’ve done is comprehended something. You don’t know the biblical understanding of belief or faith. That’s what changes your life. You’re so firmly persuaded. It comes from the word peitho, which means to bow down and surrender to that which you now understand. Pistis is that which is believed, so I want to challenge the translation. The King James translation says faith. The New American Standard says faithfulness. And I can see how they stretched it to get that. Because if a person lives consistently he’ll be dependable to be this way. But I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about here at all.
The word is “faith.” And the word “faith” means to be so firmly persuaded by something it motivates you and changes your behavior. What in the world could he be talking about? And I believe it’s this: when you’re dealing with people that are unloving, that’s why you need love. And when you’re dealing with people that are obnoxious, that’s what you need that patience for and that kindness to, you see. But when you’re dealing with them and you’re loving them and you’re seeking to meet their need and they keep spitting right back in your face, they keep throwing it right back in your face, this faith that He produces in us causes us never to give up on anybody. Because we believe that as long as we keep walking the way God told us to walk, eternal things are going on. Galatians has already taught us that the hope of faith is righteousness. And what that means is when I walk by faith I believe that a divine thing just happened. I don’t have to see any results. I don’t have to see people treat me differently. No sir, I’m believing that somehow it’s had an effect on somebody’s life.
Well, isn’t it awesome to talk about experiencing Christ? Listen, it’s taken me quite a bit of time to work through these words, but I want to hear, clarify it for you. When you’re experiencing Jesus it can happen in an instant. Don’t think it takes that long for it to happen. I’m just explaining what’s going on in your life when you experience Him.
When you walk by the Spirit of God He produces His character and it will be love and if that love is real it’ll be characterized by joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faith beyond anything you’ve ever seen, to believe that the way you’re treating somebody’s going to have an eternal effect somewhere down the road.
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.