Yesterday I introduced the "fruit of the Spirit" seen in Galatians 5:22-23, which we will be studying this Sunday here at E-Free Church in Gaylord, Michigan. Over the next three postings I would like to briefly define each of these fruit by dividing them into three categories.
The first category is what I call the fruit that deals with the "Omnipotent." That is simply a big word for God. The first 3 fruit primarily deal with our relationship with God. I am just giving a brief definition of each to help you in preparing your heart and your mind for this Sunday's message:
This is a word that means far more than simple "feelings." This is a word that describes a self-sacrificial love. This kind of love takes the spotlight off of self and puts it on someone else. First and foremost, this is a love that is directed toward God. One day Jesus was stopped by the religious leaders of His day who were trying to trap him with a question. They asked Him, "Which is the greatest commandment?" Keep in mind that at that time there were over 600 commandments and religious leaders themselves disagreed on which one was the most important. Jesus didn't even have to hesitate. He answered that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. When you walk by the Spirit, loving God becomes a natural by-product of your life. And it doesn't stop there at all. Jesus went on to say that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. He even went on to say that we should love our enemies.
Most people confuse joy with happiness but they are not the same. Happiness is a temporary feeling based on our circumstances. Joy is not a feeling. Joy is an inner contentment. Joy is not dependent on my circumstances. Joy has everything to do with who I am in Christ - that never changes. I will never be happy when circumstances are negative. But I can have joy even when the bottom falls out of my life. That is why Nehemiah said that "the joy of the Lord is my strength." That is why Pail could command us to "Rejoice always and again I say rejoice!"
Like joy, peace is not an absence of turmoil. It is not based on my circumstances. This is a peace that comes from God and is impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it. It is this peace which, even in the most difficult times of life, will guard our hearts (our feelings) and our minds (our thinking) in Christ Jesus. It has everything to do with my relationship with God and is a natural by-product of a life that is lived walking by the Spirit.