Based on the past few sermons about faith, idolatry, and honesty, I felt led to take a look back at the fruits of the spirit. I know Pastor Andrew has given messages on this before, but I think it is such an imperative part of Christian living, that we should review how they are to be a part of our lives.
Now, who can name all 9 fruits of the spirit?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:13-26 (NIV) says, 13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
兄弟たちよ。あなたがたが召されたのは、実に、自由を得るためである。ただ、その自由を、肉の働く機会としないで、愛をもって互に仕えなさい。14 律法の全体は、「自分を愛するように、あなたの隣り人を愛せよ」というこの一句に尽きるからである。15 気をつけるがよい。もし互にかみ合い、食い合っているなら、あなたがたは互に滅ぼされてしまうだろう。
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
肉の働きは明白である。すなわち、不品行、汚れ、好色、20 偶像礼拝、まじない、敵意、争い、そねみ、怒り、党派心、分裂、分派、21 ねたみ、泥酔、宴楽、および、そのたぐいである。わたしは以前も言ったように、今も前もって言っておく。このようなことを行う者は、神の国をつぐことがない。
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
しかし、御霊の実は、愛、喜び、平和、寛容、慈愛、善意、忠実、23 柔和、自制であって、これらを否定する律法はない。24 キリスト・イエスに属する者は、自分の肉を、その情と欲と共に十字架につけてしまったのである。25 もしわたしたちが御霊によって生きるのなら、また御霊によって進もうではないか。 互にいどみ合い、互にねたみ合って、虚栄に生きてはならない。
Each of the fruits of the spirit is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in our daily activities. Let’s look at each one and at the end ask some questions to make sure we are on the right track.
Joy. Unlike happiness, joy is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of the day. In fact, joy denotes a supernatural gladness given by God’s Spirit that actually seems to show up best during hard times. This happens by fixing your focus on God’s purposes for the events in your life rather than on the circumstances.
The most relevant example I can think of for joy in one’s life at present is Pastor Andrew! Even though he has been diagnosed with cancer and has been going through chemo for the past few weeks, he, and I quote, “still sits up in my bed singing praises to God almost every night with a joy in my heart that I still can’t contain!” I think anyone who has visited him would have to admit that his joy is impressive! What a role model! I visit him at the hospital to show my love and support, and leave a bit more joyous because of the joy he exudes. I think I get more out of our visits than he does.
Peace. It’s not the absence of turmoil, but (is) the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness that is content knowing that God controls the events of the day.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I like the part, “which transcends all understanding.” I find it almost magical how when I’m not feeling at peace in a situation, and then I pray to God for help, how quickly a feeling of peace and comfort flows through me. All I think we have to do is to remember to pray at these times. The best example I have of this may be hard for you all to understand, but if you know me at all, you might understand how I felt. I’ve told this story before, but in a nutshell, it goes like this.
Almost everyday on my way to work, I take the Midosuji line all the way to Nakamozu station where I change to the Nakai line. From the Midosuji line, you walk down a corridor to a set of escalators. The right one goes up, and the left comes down. Then, once at the top there is a wide walkway at least 100m long that leads to another set of escalators up to Nakai station. Well, this is where the chaos comes in. On the Nakai side, the right escalator comes down and the left side goes up, which means every morning and every evening thousands of people meet in the middle trying to avoid bumping into each other. These caused great stress for me. To make matters worse, people on bicycles wiz across from both directions, at the same time… at full speed! It defies all laws of physics, and I always got caught in the middle. In October, 2006, Just as I was entering this mess, I felt a strange calm around me and I had an urge to say, “Thank you Lord.” As I walked through the hundreds of people going the “wrong” way, a path just parted for me, like the Red Sea, and I realized that it didn’t bother me this time. I also became aware that I was thinking of God as I was walking from one line to the other. So I prayed, “Thank you Father for creating this peaceful feeling around me.” Now that was 8 years ago, and I still feel peace in this chaotic place every time I walk through. And you can be sure that I pray every time. Now I know you may have more serious situations in your life, as do I, where real peace is needed. Well although this is kind of a funny example, this same supernatural feeling of peace flows over me at other, more serious times as well. This was just the most obvious change of peace that I have felt since becoming a Christian.
Patience. Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness. It is the ability to endure ill treatment from life or at the hands of others without lashing out or paying back.
We’ve all heard the saying that if you pray to God for patience, he’ll put you in a traffic jam. Well, I like what Merlin Carothers, a Christian author, had to say about how to deal with situations in which we need patience. In his book Prison to Praise, he describes how he hated red lights. He always felt so annoyed with them and had difficulty being patient while waiting for the light to change. But then one day he felt God telling him to look at the people crossing in front of him, and to pray for them. From this moment on, he continually looked for people to pray for when he was at a red light. He came to look forward for the opportunity to pray for people, even if they were unaware of it. Not only did he learn patience, but he found a way to make waiting count for something and not a waste of time.
Kindness. When kindness is at work in a person’s life, he or she looks for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. It is moral goodness that overflows. It’s also the absence of malice and hatred.
I’m surprised that people are not kinder to strangers than they are, because when someone is kind to another person, both people win! How good it feels to do something good for others, and it’s not that hard to do. For example, one day on the train coming home from work as I was sitting at the end of a bench, there was a high school girl standing next to me crying profusely. Her sobs could be heard throughout the entire carriage and her tears were splashing off the pages of the book I was reading. I think I felt as badly as she did, not because my book was getting all wet, but because I could feel her pain. Once I realized that no one was going to do anything to help her, I reached in my bag, took out a pack of tissues, and handed it to her. Through loud sobs, she said, “Arigato,” and used most of the pack to wipe her tears. She also, almost instantly, stopped crying. She offered to give me back the one remaining, tear soaked tissue, but I smiled and motioned that she could keep it. Just then, the doors of the train opened, she gave me a chocolate, and with a deep bow, said, “Arigato gozaimasu,” and got off the train. She then turned around and smiled at me as the doors were closing. I think I felt as good as she did, and so did all the people around me. Everyone was smiling… and wondered if I was going to eat the chocolate… which I did.
Thinking back at times like this where I always seem to be the one that does something in these situations, I wonder why? Why me? I can’t help but think that it’s not me at all. It’s God working in my life.
Goodness. While kindness is the gentle side of good, goodness reflects the character of God.
Ephesians 5:9 For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.
Where the fruit of the light pertains to the character of Jesus, which consists of goodness, as well as righteousness and truth. When we are truly “good,” we are essentially being like Jesus. So kids, when your parents say to “be good,” all you have to do is think about what Jesus would do. And that would be good!
Faithfulness. A faithful person is one with real integrity. He or she is someone others can look to as an example, and (is) someone who is truly devoted to others and to Christ, and one who is obedient to Christ. We trust He is who says He is; we have faith that He can do miraculous things in our lives; and we obey his commands. Our natural self always wants to be in charge, but Spirit-controlled faithfulness is evident in the life of a person who seeks good for others and glory for God.
Gentleness. Another word for this is meekness, and meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it is strength under control. It forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility. I think Mike illustrated this very well with his Father’s day sermon when he said that, fathers are not called to be heartless slave drivers, but men who wisely balance teaching with tenderness, and correction with compassion. In other words, gentleness.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. エフィソの信徒への手紙6:4 父たる者よ。子供をおこらせないで、主の薫陶と訓戒とによって、彼らを育てなさい。
The key phrase here is to not provoke our children, but to gently teach and train them.
Self-control. Our fleshly desires, Scripture tells us, are continually at odds with God’s Spirit and always want to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our grip on fleshly desires, choosing instead to be lead by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right place.
Like peace and patience, and maybe all the other fruits as well, to obtain self-control in the midst of a chaotic situation, comes from above. Have you ever felt your face getting red, your temples throbbing, and your fists clenching in anger because something is happening around you that you can’t control? Well I believe the only thing that can take away this feeling of rage is immediate prayer. I don’t know about you, but when I DO remember to pray at this time just before I lose it, God calms me down which allows me to think more rationally… more like Jesus.
And as it says in 1 Corithians 13.13: “the greatest of these is Love.”
This word for love doesn’t refer to warm fuzzy feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything in return. To truly love someone means to care for that person as much or more than you care for yourself.
I was once asked by a friend if I care for my wife like that, and I said that I did. Then he asked what she does for me that makes me love her like that. I replied that she doesn’t need to do anything. It was a promise I made to her and to God, and I try my best to keep it. I sometimes slip and I get in the way, but then I repent and ask God to help me to love her more.
Now that we’ve discussed all 9 fruits of the spirit, we should look at how we are to “walk by the Spirit.” Walking by the spirit produces all nine qualities listed above. When we follow the Spirit’s lead instead of being led by our self-focused desires, He produces the fruit.
God promises that if we are willing to admit that we have been walking our own way and ask for His forgiveness and cleansing, He will empower us through His Spirit to live above ourselves and live the abundant life for which He has created us.
John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” ヨハネによる福音書7:38 わたしを信じる者は、聖書に書いてあるとおり、その腹から生ける水が川となって流れ出るであろう」。
Rivers of living water refers to the Holy Spirit working within us in the way of the fruits of the spirit.
Now, for our prayer time today, I’d like us to look at 10 questions. I’d like to ask you to spend time answering each honestly, and to pray if this fruit is lacking in your life. I’ve made a handout for each of you in case you don’t have time to pray for each one here today. I urge you to take time to really think about each one of these, for if we are able to grow all these fruits in our lives, we can be a healthy, fruit producing tree of God.
1. Love: Am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or am I giving in order to receive something in return? 愛：キリストが私のためにしてくださったように、私も人のためにしようとしているだろうか、それともお返しに何かをほしいからあげているのだろうか？
2. Joy: Am I experiencing a joy of life on a regular basis, or is my happiness dependent on things going smoothly in my day? 喜び：日頃から人生の喜びを経験しているだろうか、それとも私の幸せはその日のうまくいっていることに左右されているのだろうか？
3. Peace: Do I find myself frazzled by the crashing waves of turmoil in my life, or am I experiencing “the peace that passes all comprehension” as we read in (Philippians 4:6-7)?
4. Patience: Am I easily set off when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations? 寛容：物事がうまくいかなかったり、人にイライラさせられるとすぐにカッとするだろうか、それともイライラに直面しても神を敬う態度を保てるだろうか？
5. Kindness: Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires or problems to let the goodness of God overflow to others? 親切：親切に人に仕えることが私の目標だろうか、それとも自分自身の必要、願い、問題に目を向けすぎて神の善意を人にあふれさせられないのだろうか？
6. Goodness: Does my life reflect the holiness of God, and do I desire to see others experience God at a deep level in their own lives? 善意：私の人生は神の聖さを反映しているだろうか、そして他の人にも深いレベルで神を経験してもらいたいと願っているだろうか？
7. Faithfulness: Are there areas of hypocrisy and indifference toward others in my life, or is my life characterized by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around me? 誠実：人に対して偽善的で無関心なところがあるだろうか、それとも私の人生はキリストにおける信仰と私の周りの人たちへの誠実によって特徴づけられているだろうか？
8. Gentleness: Do I come across to others as brash and headstrong, or am I allowing the grace of God to flow through me to others? 柔和：人に生意気で頑固に見られているだろうか、それとも神の恵みが私から人にあふれ出ているようにしているだろうか？
9. Self-control: Are my fleshly desires controlling my life, or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others? 自制：肉の欲が私の人生を支配しているだろうか、それとも神を喜ばし、人に仕えるように御霊に導いてもらっているだろうか？
10: Am I actively depending on the Holy Spirit to guide me in God’s ways so I don’t get wrapped up in myself? If not, am I willing to confess to God that His ways are better than mine, and that I need the Spirit’s guidance to live above the chaos of this world?
If so, please feel free to come up to Mike, David, Mayu, or myself and pray for God’s help and guidance in your life. David and I will be at the front, and Mike and Mayu at the back.