Who are the children of God and how do we recognize them? We have spent some time in this series looking at the importance that the fruits of the Spirit are expressed within the true Christian. The gifts of the Spirit are simply that, gifts, whereas the fruit is the natural growth within us toward God and His Holiness.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven… Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” — Matthew 5: 44-45, 48, emphasis added
We have talked about love and doing good, both fruits of the Spirit. Another fruit exemplified by these verses is meekness. The full list of the fruits is recorded in Galatians 5:22-23:
These are the signs that the Holy Spirit is living in us and working in us and that we are God’s children. These are the traits of holiness we must grow into and that will allow others to see our good works and glorify God [Matt. 5:16].
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” — Hebrews 11:6
Faith is the foundation for every believer in Christ, and faith is the foundation of our walk. Faith is what motivates us to come to Christ, to follow God, and to listen to the Holy Spirit because faith allows us to believe in God and to believe in His promises.
Faith is what brings us to peace, another vital fruit of the spirit because we know that God will provide for us and we trust in Him.
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” — Matthew 6:20
“And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” — Luke 8:48
Faith is what motivates us to seek after holiness and to walk in the Spirit until we obtain the fruits of the Spirit. Faith is what gives us the assurance that we will become like Christ.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.” — Hebrews 11:1-2
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” — 1 John 3:2
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” — Matthew 5:5
Meekness comes from a word that means exercising power with gentleness and restraint under God’s inspiration and direction. It often means refraining from using one’s power and showing that one can be trusted with the power of God.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” — Matthew 25: 21
Christ was meek in the face of His crucifixion, choosing to lay down His life for us instead of freeing Himself. He chose to subject Himself to those who degraded and hurt Him that He might save us and them.
Meekness is the spirit and motivation behind forgiveness.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:1-2
Meekness goes hand in hand with humility and patience, allowing us to accept whatever abuse the world and others may give us and responding in love.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath…” — Proverbs 15:1a
This fruit enables us and strengthens us in other fruits of the Spirit, such as love and kindness and is itself often translated as gentleness. To truly be God’s children, we too must be patiently merciful, and that is what meekness enables us to be.
Temperance is often interpreted as “self-control.” It means one has mastered oneself and one’s desires and passions.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” — Romans 8:13
“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” — James 3:2b
To live in the Spirit, showing the fruits of the Spirit, we must “mortify” or “put to death” the deeds of our mortal flesh. The biblical book of James spends almost an entire chapter describing the situation of the tongue in position to the rest of the body as a controlling influence.
“Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
“…so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body…” — James 3:3-6
But the ability to tame our tongue, and likewise the rest of our fleshly desires, and thus gain mastery over ourselves, does not come from our human will.
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” — Matthew 26:41
“But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” — James 3:3, 8, 13
The ability to tame our tongue and our sinful, mortal urges and desires comes from “meekness of wisdom.”
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” — James 3:17-18
The ability to tame our tongue comes from the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit as we grow in obeying the Holy Spirit.
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren…” — I Peter 1:22
Tempering our actions, our words, and all that we do through the instruction of the Holy Spirit leads us to perfection, or that innate goodness, which is also a fruit of the Spirit. It is how we master ourselves and purify our souls.
— Megan Payne