Next we have joy. Joy is from the word “chara” in the Greek and it shares a root with “charis” or grace. A joyful person is someone who is constantly mindful and aware of the grace of God upon their lives. They delight in God and enjoy their relationship with Him because He alone is the beautiful and worthy.
An opposite of joy is hopelessness or despair. If you go through life without hope and your overall disposition is one of despair, then you have lost connection with God and you have forgotten about His grace in your life.
A counterfeit of joy is elation or a sense of happiness that come from circumstantial blessings. Favorable circumstances can give us a semblance of joy. People who grow up with a silver spoon in their mouth. Everything has been handed to them or taken care of for them by their parents. They have plenty of resources and opportunities and their biggest struggle in life was having to wait in a long line at Disneyland. We can be happy because life has dealt us a good hand. But take away the blessings. You lose a job. Tragedy hits and the joy flutters away. Joy is more like a mood that depends solely on circumstances. Good circumstances and I am happy, but if life doesn’t pan out the way I expected, I’m not happy. That’s not joy.
Another counterfeit form of joy is personality. Some people are just naturally bubbly. They are always smiling. They love to be around people. They are extroverts. That’s personality, but personality is not the same thing as the fruit of joy that comes from the Spirit.
A good example of joy in Scripture is the Macedonian Christians that we just covered in 2 Cor 8-9. They were in poverty, yet in spite of their poverty, they gave of their finances generously to Paul as a mission offering. It makes no sense. How can you give away your money generously when you barely have enough to put food on the table? It’s because their joy in the Lord was real.
Again, we can sift out the counterfeits by using the concatenation test. Joy is connected to peace, joy has to grow alongside peace for it to be real joy. Peace and joy together have to be present consistently. Meaning, you are a person of integrity. You’re consistent, however you slice you, in whatever situation, you’re always the same. You are joyful and at peace in terrible circumstances. You are joyful and at peace when things go your way. You have integrity. It’s neither true joy nor true peace if those qualities fly away when circumstances change like the winds.
Next, we have peace. It is defined as quietness, rest, wholeness, integrity, when all the essential parts are joined together, there is a confidence and rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God. It is a tranquility of mind, body and soul. It is a spiritual well being that only God can give a person. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This peace is a peace that transcends circumstance, good and bad things happening, it surpasses understanding. This doesn’t mean that you will never have another problem in life, but it does mean that God will give you a peace in the midst of the storm. Even while everything around you is a Category 5 hurricane, the peace of God can fill your heart and soul through the power of the Spirit.
The opposite of peace is pretty obvious. It’s anxiety and worry. If Christ is the Lord of all, that means He’s the Lord of your future. If you are a Christian and you are anxious and worried about many things like where will I go to school next, when will I graduate, will I graduate, who will I marry–if these unknowns are constantly plaguing you, then you don’t know Jesus very well because He is the Prince of Peace. If you know him, the fruit of peace will grow in your life by the Spirit.
A counterfeit peace is indifference or apathy. Some people appear unflappable. They seem to be at peace because they’re never rattled. Let’s apply the concatenation principle. If you are the type of person who is never rattled, yet you are not gentle, not kind. Where did they get their peace from? It’s not from the Spirit. It came from a heart that says, I don’t care what other people think about me, I don’t care what happens to me, I’m secure in myself and my abilities. This is not spiritual peace. If you are naturally an easy going person and you are at peace because you don’t care, that’s personality, not the kind of peace that comes from the Spirit.
Peace and humility go together. What if you are proud, but you are at peace all the time. Then, it’s a counterfeit peace. True peace comes from humility. The root of worry, or the lack of peace is pride. It’s a refusal to take a humble posture before God. Anyone who worries thinks they know what they need. An arrogant person is very sure of what he needs. This is the complete opposite of a person who has a peace which flows from his humility. God, I know you are always there. Lord, you know what I need. I don’t know. I put myself in your hands. I’m a child. You’re my Abba Father. Peace is always connected to humility. If you are proud, you may be at “peace,” but your peace is the result of wise choices you made, the result of your abilities and the backup plans you have put in place, your job security, your bank account and so forth. We can create an illusion of peace quite easily if you are talented and you have the resources.
Related to peace and humility is patience. Patience is a fruit and it is defined as long-suffering. It’s long-suffering because when you are wronged, you take it in. You don’t lash out with a vindictive spirit. God does not have a short fuse. He doesn’t have a temper. When we sin against him, he takes it in. He suffers for it. Not just one time, but over and over, God suffers over our sin. He suffers for a long, long time. Patience is long-suffering.
Related to this, patience can also be described as forbearance. In financial terms, forbearance refers to a refraining from the enforcement of a debt that is due. When a mortgage is about to be in foreclosure, it can enter into a special agreement to delay the foreclosure and the agreement is called forbearance. If you broaden the application, the literal meaning of forbearance is “holding back” or waiting a sufficient time before expressing anger. The anger is a legitimate anger as in the judgment of God we deserve when we sin. But God does not lash out in anger every time we sin even though he has every right to. If He did, who among us could stand? God exercises patience. He holds back His wrath. He shows mercy and gives us chance after chance to repent. God in his dealings with Israel over the centuries displays this quality. He demonstrates the ability to take in the sins of his people without blowing a fuse. He suffers joyfully because he loves us. There is concatenation. Patience is connected to joy and love.
The way we act toward God should give us a clue about the greatest source of our suffering in this life. For the vast majority of us, our greatest suffering is not caused by random accidents or a failure to achieve a personal goal. Our greatest suffering is caused by other people who sin against us. These are the real trials of life. And when we are sinned against, we are expected to act toward those who sin against us the same way God deals with us. With long-suffering. It’s like being a spiritual rubber band. We will be tested, we will be wronged, sinned against, stretched like a rubber band. As Christians, we are stretched but we will not break if we have long-suffering. The Holy Spirit will give you supernatural patience to hold back and not snap when you suffer at the hands of people who sin against you.
The opposite of patience is having resentment toward God and others. A counterfeit patience is naivety, cynicism or self-righteousness. Some seem patient because they are naive. They believe in the general goodness of others and so when they are sinned against, they wonder, how could that have ever happend to me? Or, others seem patient either because they are cynical and have learned to live with the sins of others by lowering their standard–everyone is a sinner, nobody will change. Everyone is out to get me. Or, you seem patient because you are self-righteous and you have elevated yourself–you are above the pettiness of men and you don’t allow yourself to be bothered by the foibles and weaknesses of others. You are too self-righteous to be naive and too self-righteous to be cynical. Everyone is a sinner but me. Naivety, cynicism, self-righteousness–all 3 lack humility. They lack symmetry. Christians who seem to be patient might be patient because they are naive, or cynical, or self-righteous, or they are simply easy going. This is personality, not fruit of the Spirit.
On the flip side, some Christians who don’t have an easy going personality may treat their lack of patience also as personality. They may snap and blow a fuse and say things they should not say and excuse themselves. Their shortness of temper is just how they are wired, it’s their Type A personality, or it’s because my parents yelled at me a lot when I was growing up. I just lack patience so accept me as I am. No big deal. This is their attitude.
Let’s put this through our concatenation test. There is no genuine patience from the Spirit unless it is also accompanied by the rest of the fruit such as self-control. What is the hardest organ in the body to control? For many of us, the hardest organ to control is the tongue. The book of James calls the tongue a fire whose origin is the fiery pit of hell because it sets the entire course of one’s life ablaze. The inability to exhibit patience and self-control in the area of our speech is not a minor character flaw. It’s a very serious indictment that we lack the fruit of the Spirit.
The next two aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are kindness and goodness. I’ve grouped these together because kindness is extrinsic act of goodness and goodness is an intrinsic quality. Kindness is extrinsic or external. Kindness is goodness coming out externally as you meet the needs of another. There is no harshness in kindness. Kindness is like a practical goodness. On the other hand, goodness is intrinsic or internal. From goodness, which is internal, flows kindness, which is external. When someone is a good person, how do you know they are a good person? You see their acts of kindness. Goodness is more of a personal quality. But goodness wants to be expressed in kindness toward others. The accent of goodness is on being kind toward others instead of simply being good privately as a person in a moral sense. A good person is honest, he’s transparent, he has integrity. And these things come out in the form of kindness as we relate with others.
The opposite of kindness is being self-centered or envious. You are unable to rejoice when favorable things happen in other people’s lives because they didn’t happen to you. The opposite of goodness is phoniness or hypocrisy. You can act like you genuinely care about someone else, but you really don’t.
Now for the counterfeits. A counterfeit kindness is when you seem to be kind in your deeds toward others, but you are using your deeds to manipulate others. It’s like Jesus warning the Pharisees to give money without your right hand knowing what your left hand is doing. A counterfeit kindness is the complete reverse. You give money, but you do so with your right hand knowing exactly what your left hand is doing. You are not giving to others out of a generosity of spirit to meet the needs of someone less fortunate. You are being kind to be noticed or to get a pat on the back. It’s self-congratulation and self-righteousness masquerading as kindness.
A counterfeit goodness is speaking truth without love. I am annoyed by what you did and I just need to get this off of my chest. Then, you blast the person with an M-16 rifle of hurtful words. Such a person lacks goodness and kindness. It’s different from being concerned about a sin in someone’s life and speaking out of love to seek the person’s good rather than speaking out of annoyance.
As a pastor, I have had a handful of difficult conversations. And I’m sure I will have many more. When I am about to engage a person who is angry with me for whatever reason, I walk into the conversation knowing that there will be landmines that if I step on might blow off my leg. I know it is not going to be pleasant. And before such meetings, I’ve made it a practice to meditate on Col 3:12-14. [READ]
Here we see the concatenation principle at work. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, acceptance, forgiveness, love–these are all connected because they flow from the one Spirit who gives birth to these qualities in a believer’s life.