Fruit of the Spirit: Self-control or spirit-control?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

We have finally reached the end of our Fruit of the Spirit study, and we are concluding with the fruit of self-control. However, when I study self-control, I find that it isn’t so much “self” control as it is “Spirit” control. You see, when a woman is living a fruitful life, following the precepts that God has outlined in His word, she isn’t controlled by self any more. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The area of self-control covers a lot of ground. As women, we are emotional creatures. God created us that way, but He does not desire for us to live under the rule of our emotions! While it is okay to experience and express emotions, we should not let our emotions control us. By allowing the Spirit to work in us, and tapping into the other fruits that we have discussed (such as joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.), we can find self-control. If we fail to manage our moods according to His ideals, our emotional instability can ruin our reputations, destroy relationships, and inhibit us from following God’s leadership. And by living a life characterized by emotional outbursts, we are unable to live in fellowship with God due to our sin of disobedience. However, when we turn our focus to the One who created us and our emotions, there is hope. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him. (Psalm 42:11)

Self-control does not always have to be an issue of emotions. For some, self-control may have more to do with financial decisions. Or perhaps food choices and appetites. It could be about gossip, spending time in the Word, watching or listening to things that hinder our relationship with Christ, how we spend our “free” time (if there is such a thing as a mom!)… The list goes on and on. Everyone has some area of their life over which they long to have more control. The areas in which you struggle may be very different from the struggles I face day to day. That’s the beauty of the unique creations that God made in each of us! And that is the beauty of the God we serve- no matter how different we are, or how different our struggles are, He created us. He knows us intimately. He understands those weak areas and loves us through them. And He, only He, can offer us the power that we need to overcome those individual trials.

So, as we conclude our study, I issue you a challenge. Every day, make a commitment to meet with your Holy Father. Open His word, talk to Him in prayer, and hear what He has to say to you. Tap into His power, be fruitful, and pray for your sisters in Christ who are facing challenges of their own on a daily basis. Some days and some seasons may be tougher than others- believe me, I know! But leave your Bible open on the table as a reminder that He’s there. Talk to Him as you take a shower or drive down the road. Post verses around your home in obvious places. Keep praise and worship music on throughout the day. Do whatever it takes to fill your days with Him. And as you do so, you’ll find that He’s right there with you in the every day, mundane, routine “stuff” that you do as a wife and a mother. And He’s ready to equip you with everything you need to love like Jesus, to be an example for your children, to be a woman after His own heart. Become a mom who exhibits love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. And one who isn’t self-controlled, but Spirit-controlled.

 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.
-Titus 2:11-12

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
-Ephesians 4:1

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
-2 Peter 1:5-7

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.
-Proverbs 25:28

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
-Proverbs 16:32

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.
-2 Timothy 1:7


Fruit of the Spirit: Why gentleness?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)


Pause for just a moment and give that word some thought. What does gentleness look like? If you’re like me, perhaps that word brings a certain person to mind, someone who has touched your life with a kind and gentle spirit. Or maybe you envision some imaginary person or circumstance, like a mother and her newborn baby, or someone caring for the sick or elderly. The word gentleness is often used synonymously with words like tenderness, humility, kindness, and meekness.

Gentleness is Christ-likeness, and it is the characteristic of a woman under the control of the Holy Spirit. It is intertwined with the other fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, and like those other fruits, it is something that we have to put on daily and make a concerted effort to practice. As sinful humans, gentleness does not come easy, especially in a society where women are encouraged and expected to speak out and take charge and think of themselves first. However, gentleness is an attribute of a godly woman walking with Christ. But why are we called to be gentle?

First, gentleness allows you to be approachable and build trust with others. People will come to you when they know they won’t be reprimanded or judged, but rather embraced and loved. It builds confidence in relationships, both within our families and with those we encounter outside of our homes. Gentleness opens opportunities for sharing the love of Christ, and that is our job wherever we are. “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:5)

Second, gentleness opens communication and closes arguments and disagreements. As Proverbs 15:1 states, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” When conflict arises, it is so easy to lose control of the tongue and say things that cannot be taken back. Sometimes it isn’t even the words that are said, but rather the tone with which they are said that causes friction. However, when we remember to give the Holy Spirit control and use the fruits He has provided, we can respond with gentleness and avoid many misunderstandings. We often reference the Proverbs 31 woman when we evaluate our roles as wives and mothers and daughters of the King. Proverbs 31:26 alludes to this “gentle responding”… “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Keep in mind that responding with gentleness does not mean we have to be doormats or ignore biblical wrongdoings! Sometimes situations must be dealt with and confrontations have to be made- the key is to take the time to pray first, remember that we have the power of the Spirit in us, and allow Him to use us in those situations. Speak with “wisdom and faithful instruction.”

Gentleness also enables us to love the way Christ loves. When we look at the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, we see the epitome of gentleness. Jesus ministered and served and preached with a meekness that drew people to Him. He took the time to meet needs with humility, touch people and heal them, and reach out to those of all walks of life. He pointed out sins, but did so in a way that still demonstrated great mercy and compassion. He had the power to destroy anyone who hurt Him, yet chose to love in the face of persecution. As followers of Him, we are called to exhibit this same measure of gentleness to those we encounter each day. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

As we have studied the different fruits of the Spirit, it has become increasingly obvious that each individual fruit is dependent on the other fruits. Gentleness flows from a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and (as we will see next time) self-control. Only when we are tapped into the power of the Spirit, spending time cultivating our relationship with Christ, communicating daily with God, and submitting to His lordship in our lives will we be able to experience the fruitful life that He desires of us.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
–Matthew 5:5

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
-Matthew 11:29

Fruit of the Spirit: Keep the faith

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)


“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
-Hebrews 11:1


Faithfulness is defined as the quality of being faithful; fidelity; true and constant support or loyalty; steady in allegiance or affection. Oftentimes we use the word to describe the relationship between husband and wife, the loyalty of a pet to its master, or a commitment we have to friends or family members. We even go so far as to declare our faithful allegiance to sports teams, certain stores or restaurants, or brands of clothing or cars. We pride ourselves in our devout loyalty to the things of this world, to being so faithful in so many ways. Yet in Galatians 5:22, we read that faithfulness is a God-given gift, one of the fruits that evidences the Holy Spirit in our lives.

In Psalm 15, David gives us a Biblical definition of a faithful man…

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
And has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,
Who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
Who lends money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken.

 Blameless. Righteous. Speaks truth. Does his neighbor no wrong. Who keeps his oath even when it hurts. These are the virtues of one who is considered faithful in the eyes of God, and it is not by accident that David included the phrase, “even when it hurts.” God does not look for fair-weather faithfulness. He wants faithfulness in ALL circumstances, both good and bad. It’s all a part of His grand plan, and He commands that we trust and obey even especially in the difficult times.

The Bible is full of examples of men and women who displayed great faithfulness in victory and in trial. If you’ve never studied Hebrews 11, stop and take a look at it now. Here we find a roll call of the faithful. So much can be learned by reading this chapter, and then going back and reading the accounts of those mentioned. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rahab… just a handful of the examples of ordinary people that trusted God and exhibited extraordinary faithfulness.  They weren’t some kind of supernatural people that had something we don’t have- they had flaws and mistakes and sinful natures and scars and pasts and baggage, just like you and me… but they surrendered it all to God, the good and the bad, and allowed Him to use them for His glory.

There are other role models for us to examine throughout God’s word, and I’m turning our focus to three in particular- Esther, Job, and Stephen… Three very different people at different times in different circumstances, but all trusting the same God to do big things.

The book of Esther is an incredible account of an ordinary woman of great faith that God used to do amazing things. An orphan girl, raised by her cousin, and placed into a marriage to a man who was known for tossing aside his wives when they were less than submissive to his plans.  Yet Esther was willing to trust God’s plan for His people and allowed herself to be used by Him, even when it meant risking her own life. Her faith in God enabled her to have the courage to be bold and follow His agenda, even when it led her out of her comfort zone. “…When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

The book of Job gives us a look at a man who was faithful to God even when it hurt. Job was a righteous man, a godly man, a faithful man… yet he had to endure extreme hardships, losing everything he had. He lost his children, his wealth, and his health, yet he refused to give up on God because he knew God was so much bigger than the problems he faced on this earth. He faced peer pressure and ridicule when he continued praising God in the storm, but he wasn’t swayed.  He had faith that God was still in control and that God had great things in store for him, even when life seemed hopeless. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15)

Finally, in the New Testament we see Stephen, described as being “a man full of God’s grace and power.” (Acts 6:8) Stephen portrayed ultimate courage and strength in the Lord as he boldly stood before the Sanhedrin (see Acts 7) and professed the truth, knowing it would cost him his life. He had every opportunity to back down or stay silent in order to preserve his life, but his loyalty to God was so fierce and strong that he had to proclaim God’s word. Even in the face of death, Stephen declared God’s sovereignty, and prayed for those persecuting him as they stoned him to death. While that sounds like a grim ending, it was a joyous occasion as Stephen was welcomed into an eternity with God and his faith was made sight.

What can we take from these big examples of godly faithfulness? Stay the course. Don’t give up. Pledge your allegiance solely to Him. The mark of true faith is grateful obedience… grabbing God’s hand and following Him when He tells us to move, praising Him while we wait (and wait, and wait) in the everyday mundane, and trusting Him when the storms blow in and turn our worlds upside down. Friends, I know the struggle.  I’ve been in the pit, I’ve seen hopeless, I’ve been drowning in my own tears… but I’ve seen mercy and grace and love as He lifted me from the sludge.  “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet upon the rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…” (Psalm 40:2-3).  There is no pit too deep, no valley too low, no sludge too thick that can keep Him away, so keep the faith.  Be bold, be strong, be courageous… in every season and circumstance.

“Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”
-Deuteronomy 10:20-21

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
-Lamentations 3:22-24

“Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
-Revelation 2:10

Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness in God

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)


 You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.  -Leviticus 20:26

 Discussing goodness can be a tricky topic to tackle. Everyone has different ideas of what it means to be “good,” and oftentimes much emphasis is placed on goodness rather than grace when it comes to eternal life. So many confuse good works and grace, but the Bible is clear… Goodness is not the way to a relationship with Christ, but rather a product of a relationship with Christ.

Goodness is a requirement of God’s people, not because we can ever achieve perfection, but because as followers of Christ we are to crave holiness, and goodness produces holiness. There is a direct connection between obedience and righteousness, and just as we long for our children to obey, God wants to see us living in obedience to His commandments.

The Ten Commandments are a good baseline for living a life of goodness, but they aren’t merely a checklist to work your way into heaven. The greatest commandment is to love God, and part of loving God is loving His law. In our sinful nature, we cannot keep all of the commandments, but because we love God, we strive to do better and live a life that brings glory and honor to Him. And when we mess up, as we are going to do every day, we admit our shortcomings and ask for forgiveness. Goodness calls out immorality as sin, with no excuses!

So what is the key to goodness? Love… Genuine, sincere, no-strings-attached love. Loving God, loving His word, and loving others as Christ loves us. This kind of love is a love that lends itself to goodness. It’s the type of love that can only be found in Him- through prayer and Bible study and being filled daily with the Holy Spirit. God is love (I John 4:8), God is good (Psalm 136:1), and if we are truly allowing Him to live in us and through us, that love and goodness will spill over into a life of service and obedience.

The Bible clearly states that we are recognized by the fruit that we bear. ”Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:17-20) We are called to be salt and light in a broken and sinful world (see Matthew 5:13-16), and whether we like it or not, people are watching us and making observations about what they see. As moms, our own children are watching us and learning from us. Sometimes it can be easy to put on a show of “goodness” for strangers and those not living under our roof, but what do our families see from us on a daily basis? As the Scripture states, “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit.” Are we good trees, bearing fruits of goodness all the time?

Goodness requires sacrifice. It means stepping away from the values of the world even while living in the world. It means standing up for God’s law when everyone else is heading in the other direction. It means letting go of our own worldly desires and longing for Him. It means giving yourself in love and service even when it results in a lack of recognition or appreciation. It means making time to spend in the Word, even when your schedule is overflowing. Goodness means loving God more.

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” –I John 3:6-10

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” –I Peter 1:14-16

“For God did not call us to be impure; but to live a holy life.” –I Thessalonians 4:7

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” -3 John 11

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” -2 Timothy 2:22

Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness in action

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

-Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)


The words “kind” and “nice” are words that are used frequently when molding young children. We tell them to be kind to their peers, to play nice, to be a friend… Yet speaking the words will never replace kindness in action- modeling it for our children in everyday life. And, as is the case for the fruits we’ve studied thus far, putting on kindness can be a challenge.

Kindness goes hand in hand with those other fruits we’ve learned about- kindness is a response of love for another person. Kind people tend to exude joy and have peace in trying circumstances. And, without a doubt, being kind definitely requires patience! Kindness is a daily choice we make, but it’s a natural choice when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Living a life of kindness is living a life in God’s power, submitting to His power and authority, and putting to death our sinful nature (see Colossians 3:1-8).

The Bible is full of examples of individuals who exhibited kindness. I Samuel 25 speaks of Abigail, the woman who met David with kindness and encouraged him to not act in his anger. The book of Ruth gives the story of the relationship between Ruth and Naomi, a relationship exemplifying kindness to one another. Joshua introduces us to the prostitute Rahab- an unlikely candidate for showing kindness, but her example teaches that we don’t have to be perfect to be used by God. We just have to be willing. In Luke chapter 10 we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, and of course we can read any account of Jesus’ life on earth to see kindness in action.

I stumbled across this list of Biblical characteristics of kindness according to the Scriptures. It’s a great “self-check” for us as believers, but also a great reference point for teaching our children about kindness according to God’s word.

One is kind when:

  1. he is honest in his dealings (Genesis 21:23)
  2. he rewards good received from another (Genesis 40:14)
  3. he is sympathetic and comforting (Job 6:14)
  4. he exhibits honorable behavior (Ruth 3:10)
  5. he shares another’s burdens (1 Samuel 15:6)
  6. he shows friendship (1 Samuel 20:15, 16)
  7. he honors the dead (2 Samuel 2:5)
  8. he is merciful toward his enemies (2 Samuel 9:7)
  9. he demonstrates loyalty (2 Samuel 16:17)
  10. he shows gratitude (1 Kings 2:7)
  11. he has compassion (Jonah 4:2)
  12. he is benevolent (Luke 6:35)
  13. he is courteous (Acts 27:3)
  14. he is hospitable (Acts 28:2)
  15. he is forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)

(Copied from by Jeff Asher)

Kindness opens the door to ministering to others. If we want to share the love of Christ with others, we must begin by showing kindness and meeting immediate needs. For us moms, this begins at home. What do our children see when they look at us? Here are some questions that I have been asking myself lately that have opened the door to some real heart checks…

  • Do my children see me serving others with a happy heart? (At home with them and their dad, with other family members, in church, in the community, in line at the grocery store, driving down the road, etc…)
  • Do my children hear me apologize when I do wrong, be it to them, my husband, or someone outside of our home?
  • Do my children hear or see me forgive when someone has wronged me?
  • How often do my children see me lose my patience with a person or a task or a situation?
  • Am I actively listening to my children and my husband? (Making eye contact, affirming what is being said, with no distractions)
  • Am I involving my children in praying for others in need and in serving in various capacities?
  • Do I show compassion not only to outsiders, but to my children in my home on a daily basis?
  • What tone of voice do my children hear most often from me? What tone do I use in discipline? What tone do I use to respond to them (even if they’ve asked the same question or called my name a million times in that hour)?

I could go on and on, but the point is that actions speak louder than words. To teach our children to be kind, we must be kind. And we must be kind not only to the outside world, but to those who are near and dear to us. Kindness is a lifestyle that must begin at home.

 Ephesians 4:32… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Matthew 7:12… So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Proverbs 19:22… That which makes a man to be desired is his kindness; and a poor man is better than a liar.

Proverbs 31:6… She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.