Reaping Kindness

Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you (Hosea 10:12).  Hosea is calling on Israel to repent in this verse and in the context pointing out that they will be judged because they didn’t do what this verse commands.  What is the application for us, and how does it help us bear that precious fruit of the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit, through the inspired, written Word, calls on (leads) us to live righteously.  The result (fruit) of that, is what we reap.  The prophet’s words here tell us to do the right thing (sow righteousness) and reap the logical harvest, which includes kindness.

Essentially, nothing has changed.  Yes, the particulars of how we live righteously (since we live under the new covenant and not the old) have changed, but it still comes down to living a righteous life and reaping the logical fruit.

How encouraging that God tells us how to bear the fruit that will see us through eternity!  He loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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Binding Kindness

The next characteristic in our list of characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit, is kindness.  Anyone who gives serious thought to what a Christian should be would recognize kindness as a logical, even necessary, part of the Spirit-led life.  However, many of those who have called themselves by the name “Christian” have proven themselves less than kind in many circumstances.

Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit, through the apostle Paul, makes it clear that kindness is an outcome of the faithful, Christian life (Galatians 5:22, 23), which means that a lack of kindness exemplifies living according to the lusts and desires of the flesh rather than the Spirit.

Solomon gives us good advice:  Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 3:3).  If your life is led by the Spirit through His inspired Word, then kindness will be a part of your life.  No matter how you suffer, or how dejected and discouraged you become, be kind; let kindness be a word that comes to the minds of those you come into contact with each day.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Patient Toward Us-ward

A series of lessons on patience would not be complete without a look at the patience of God toward us (or “us-ward” as the KJV has).  I know, this patience is not the patience we are to have, or that which is a result of living the Spirit-led life; it’s God’s patience.  However, God’s patience is the patience we are to imitate.

Of course, the quintessential verse on God’s patience is 2 Peter 3:9:  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  If anyone ever had a right to lose his/her patience, it would be God.  Time and again, from the dawn of history in the Garden of Eden, we have tested His patience; and we’re all guilty (Romans 3:10, 23).  The patience of God, expressed in His love, mercy, grace, etc., is the only thing to give us any encouragement, or even hope.

So, where does that leave us?  God shows us what patience is all about!  Choose the life that will result in, among other things, patience.  You can do it because God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Imitating Patience

Hebrews 6:11, 12 says:  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  From this we learn that inheriting the promises (salvation) involves patience.  As we’ve noted before, the apostle Paul says that patience is part of the fruit (result) of living at the direction of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23).

Life according to the Spirit is a choice.  That choice results in patience, which makes it easier to continue to live according to the Spirit. And patience is vitally necessary.  We must be diligent as the passage above says.  Diligence takes patience because the temptation to give up will be great.

The promises are worth the effort!  God has given us a very precious gift; the gift of choice.  We choose to live according to the Spirit, or according to the flesh.  The consequences of each choice is clear.

The full assurance of hope is the ultimate goal, but it will take diligence and patience.  It’s up to you!  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

An Example of Patience

Have you ever felt that you were the worst?  I’ve talked to people who told me they had done too much evil in their lives for God to ever love them enough to save them.  I know this is a real feeling.  I’ve felt it myself.

For that reason I love Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15, 16:  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 

According to Paul, the reason for his finding mercy is so that Jesus could give us a demonstration of what perfect patience looks like, the implication being that we should show perfect patience, too (1 Peter 2:21).

The point is that no matter what you’ve done, no matter how bad you feel about yourself, Jesus’ perfect patience is for you.  It’s an example showing we can have hope, but it must also be an example for us to follow.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Commending Ourselves in Patience

Patience is a virtue!  It makes sense that our patience would be commendable when others see us practicing it.  In 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 the apostle Paul urges his readers not to receive God’s grace in vain, then follows that with a long list of ways to accomplish that.  Included in that list is “commending ourselves…in patience” (v. 4-6).  (Do not be surprised to see this list dealt with in greater detail sometime in the future.

Our word of encouragement for today comes in the general treatment of patience in this list.  Exercising patience commends us in such a way that the ministry that each Christian has is not discredited.  Think about it!  We can talk a good game, but if we react impatiently when things go wrong, we discredit ourselves and no one will believe the message we have, no matter how true it is!

If God has shed His grace on you, do not let that be in vain.  Commend yourself by, among so many other things, being patient with the things that happen in this life.  Follow the guidance of the Spirit and do not live according to the flesh.  Bear that precious fruit!

And remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Patience of Spirit

Patience may be the most undesirable of the good traits Christians must have.  We sometimes joke that we want patience AND WE WANT IT NOW!!!  It is true that patience sometimes comes at a high price.  Paul says patience is a result (fruit) of living the faithful Christian life (Galatians 5:22).

Solomon commented on patience in the book of Ecclesiastes:  The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:8).  It seems we have another one of those situations where one passage encourages us to assume the characteristic of patience, while another says patience is something that results from an attitude (characteristic) we take on ourselves.

Could it be that this is another situation where, when we do the right thing, the right thing becomes easier to do the next time?  James 1:2-4 makes that exact point about enduring “various trials” and “the testing of your faith.”

Listen to Solomon and hold on during the hard times secure in the belief that the end of a matter really is better.  Be patient.  Live by the Spirit and gain patience.  Know that God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates