Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness (The Fruit Series 26)

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The fruit of gentleness is a worthy way of knowing that God lives in you.

It is difficult to be gentle when aggravating factors are around. It is difficult to be gentle when disappointment, dismay and disaster strikes. It is difficult to be gentle when there’s a great sense of jubilation at a wrong made right. In those cases boasting or aggression are understandable responses.

Being gentle is sometimes misconstrued as weakness and an ineffective response. It is not considered as assertive to dealing with issues to be gentle. When people think of leaders, being gentle is not one of the aspects related with them. Yet the greatest leader to ever walk the earth was depicted as gentle. Jesus certainly was not weak. He certainly was not ineffective. Consider however His approach to others to get the idea of what gentleness looks like. Being gentle does not stop you addressing wrong, but you address wrong in a way that encourages the other. It is not bombastic, overly aggressive, intimidating or selfish.

See Jesus as He restores Peter after the resurrection. The capacity to forgive and restore is a key hallmark of the gentle spirit. This is why Paul encourages the brethren in Galatia to be gentle in carrying the burdens of others and particularly restoring those who are found in a fault. The heart to restore is a gentle one. The heart to relate and engage requires gentleness to help others. This is why it’s a key quality that is produced when the Spirit of God lives in us.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness (The Fruit Series 25)

Shoes are an interesting part of my family life.

My Dad trusted his shoes. He ensured that whatever shoes he wore would last him a long time. Part of that was about his maintenance, but a big part of that was about the choice of shoes he wore. He could rely on them to take him wherever he needed to get to. He trusted them and expressed that trust by taking them all the way to the limit.

I did not inherit my Dad’s impeccable taste for choosing shoes. I do, however, value the excellence of a good pair of shoes/trainers. Their capacity to go through the difficult terrain and emerge worn but ready to go again was a remarkable element of the shoes.

Faithfulness as a product of the Holy Spirit living within reflects the quality that God displays towards those to whom He commits Himself. When He makes a covenant He honours it without wavering in the slightest. So dependable is He that even when others have given up, He remains and lives to what He has agreed. No matter the terrain of the relationship writers in Old Testament would delight in His covenant love and faithfulness.

There is a dependability about God and there is an ongoing character of looking for the best even in the worst. Now as we embrace Him by His Spirit He gives us that same ability to always trust and always be trusted, to always believe and always be believed. Even as we test that to the limit with God, so others test that with us in various contexts. The issues is not about primarily being faithful to organisations or individuals. It to allow the faithfulness in God determine our steps to others and have that highlight how that extraordinary aspect can be a blessing to others.

All this happens because of the good news of Jesus Christ and so in the light of that God is looking for those who will be faithful with this in all life. That may not be as remarkable as the shoes in which we walk, but it will undoubtedly allow us to be as faithful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness (The Fruit Series 24)

Never underestimate something useful. 

One understanding of the word goodness is usefulness. There is a word that is not given the kudos it deserves at times. It’s taken for granted because a number of useful things are considered to be standard fare for the life we live. Clothing, food, utensils, devices, systems, methods and techniques are so ingrained as to be as habitual as breathing that it is easy to overlook them. Yet as soon as there is a problem that hinders the usefulness of what we take for granted there is a huge fuss and drama made over it. 

The quality of usefulness is something implicit in creation. There is a reason why God looked at His creation at various stages and pronounced it good. It served its purpose. It was of use. Benefit was received from it. Blessings were enjoyed as a result. 

This is not a mechanistic and impersonal attribute. This is crucial to relationships. Sin has distorted how we approach relationships so often we experience the selfish approach to see if people are any use to us and as long as they are, we will take advantage of that, but when they are not we will discard them. Indeed only when they are of use to us and in their use to us we will get on. This is an unfortunate twisting on something God designed for us to find in relationships. 

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives allow us to recognise all goodness comes from God just as everything good is sourced in Him. His nature of goodness pours out of Him whether we are receptive or not. As we receive it, though, so we are able to convey it to others and recognise it in others even when they don’t recognise it in themselves. This quality produced by the Holy Spirit makes us extremely useful to a world that is often quick to write off people because of what they lack or where they fail or in how they have messed up. In that environment, followers of Jesus shine bright because of who they declare and demonstrate. They show the best way to live by depending on the only One who is truly good and from whom all goodness flows. 

It is not just realising good in yourself that God gives, it is the ability to bring out the goodness in the situation around you for the pleasure of the Creator of the Universe who looked at what He finished and said it was very good. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness (The Fruit Series 23)

Qualities that emerge because of the indwelling Holy Spirit have a beautiful flow to them. Such is the flow that it makes sense that they are not seen as fruits of the Spirit, but fruit. 

Love, joy, peace and patience are complimentary and for that to then be followed by kindness (or gentleness) further supports the flow in the fruit. 

Thinking about kindness from a personal perspective reminds me of being a child and an adult offering something sweet to eat, especially one of my favourite chocolate bars. This would usually be done without anything I did to deserve it. It was not done with pomp and ceremony, just a smile and polite offer from that trusted adult followed by my eyes widening in sheer delight and doing my best not to trip over myself in eagerness in receiving what was offered. 
Something done for the benefit of the other in a manner of sweetness and light. It does not require merit, it is not based on obligation and certainly not under duress. The flow of the heart in wanting the best for the other or just to bless the other is apparent. 

This is a quality that in every day engagement becomes harder to exercise on a consistent basis because of the challenges of hurt, injustice, pain, betrayal, rejection and the growing desire for self-preservation at the cost of leaving yourself vulnerable to further misunderstanding or abuse. This is also why the consistent flow of this characteristic is based expressed from the divine perspective. 

Look at the loving Father and Creator of humanity, shaping and forming him after His own image. See how He tenderly provides a garden, a fulfilling occupation and a mate specifically for him. Consider His heartbreak at the rejection of His creation yet He still clothes them, He still ensures His love is apparent in the food He gives, the weather He sends for keeping them well resourced. Dwell on His relentless quest to make a way back for fallen, broken and distorted humanity through the love and life of His only Son. Note the height of that expression in the figure of His Son on the cross carrying the sin of the world. Ponder on His generosity in pouring out His Spirit on all flesh and leaving a gathering of people from different cultures, backgrounds, experiences and stories. All these joined together by the same Spirit in the same community with the same Father imparting His character on them. 

Nothing abrupt, nothing harsh, nothing impatient, nothing dismissive, nothing to give the sense of hopeless rejection by the One who loves and cares for us. 

In the light of that great kindness we are equipped to display true kindness to others. In the light of that great kindness we can do no less than be kind to humankind. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Playing the Waiting Game

Do you know how to play to win the waiting game?

When I was a child, along with my two siblings, there were times where we had the ‘joy’ of accompanying my parents to one of the homes of their friends. Their friends didn’t have children our age. This was the time before electronic devices were available as they are now. That meant we had to suck it up and wait for our parents to finish having their chinwag with their friends. I say parents, but more often than not it was my Mum we were waiting for. The part of the conversation that got us excited was the indication that it was time to go – various phrases would give a hint at that like, ‘get your coats, children’. Yet for as many of those indicator phrases were given, there was the reality that this could have been the precursor for a further conversation that would probably in reality take about ten or fifteen minutes, for us as children though that might as well be an eternity. The groan we made (of course inwardly, we didn’t want to get in trouble) was a sign of our growing exasperation that the agony would have to endure. Finally the conversation would definitively come to a proper and complete conclusion and we could make our merry way home.

I can tell you for a fact, I never liked those times at all. The memory of them makes me have that same groan and shudder inside. I can to a degree empathise with my own daughters who may at times have to wait for an extended period of time whilst  … Anyway, I can empathise.

The thing that kept us going while we waited back then was the knowledge of leaving that situation to get to a better one. That’s why there was no point kicking up a fuss with our parents at the time, it wouldn’t change the situation for the better. In fact it would have made matters worse when we got back to the better place. It made sense to keep in mind the better place we were heading for whilst dealing with the pain of the place we were in. It was playing the waiting game that allowed us to survive back in the day.

Today, I am of the impression that I am just about that age where I don’t have to endure waiting for Mum like I used to in those circumstances. Although nowadays the exercise in playing the waiting game is usually in effect with regards to certain meetings. It takes much to endure those meetings of various kinds and keep a sane and moderate head. What helps in those settings is the knowledge that enduring that situation will lead to ending up in a better situation. That quality of endurance, perseverance and patience would make the ordeal worthwhile.

It’s not just about the ‘grinning and bearing it’ aspect, it’s genuinely letting the knowledge of the better situation positively influence the approach to the current situation. That in itself can lead to an arrangement where even that tedious situation can have its own benefits.

I was reminded in Hebrews 11 that the Faith Hall of Fame was made up of characters who knew that they were just passing through whilst waiting for the promise that was beyond them. They allowed faith to allow them to make the most of their situation whilst looking forward to a better situation ahead.

Oh for the grace to exercise the faith to play and win the waiting game.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience (The Fruit Series 22)

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The fruit of the Spirit express the character of Christ. God in us through His Spirit reveals God to others in how we are. This is seen particularly in the characteristic of patience.

Considering patience is fascinating in a world that promotes speed as a great quality. In that kind of world something that takes it time that will not be produced quickly is countercultural. For the follower of Jesus it’s challenging because not only is that which we wait for not always going to be produced quickly, circumstances may give the indication it will never be produced at all. As conditions worsen there’s every good reason to prefer to do something about it, to take matters into your own hands or to just plainly give up. That is exactly when the character of Christ emerges to nip those ‘reasonable’ thoughts in the bud.

Patience is not a state of inactivity. It is the quality of persevering which is very much active in keeping on keeping on. Patience is the capacity to stay on even when it would seem better to get off. That quality of sticking to it is about the source of our patience. We are patient because our Father shows great patience in out development. He shows great patience in the travails of humanity. He exercises this quality even when we go about making a mess of His creation. He is patient because He knows His will must come to pass. Therefore we are patient because His will must come to pass. When we get heavily invested in that will and begin to see things the way He sees them and treasure that for what it’s worth, the ability to take on the adversity in the meanwhile becomes something we can bear. We bear it because there’s something of far greater worth that we receive as we wait. While we bear it, we can encourage ourselves with the truths of what we wait for and even remind ourselves of the blessing of the presence of the one who promised while we wait.

That is not a solitary exercise. This is a communal and relational experience. As our Father is patient with our development, so we are patient with the development of our brother and sister. As our Father is patient because He is working on us, so we are patient in continuing to work with each other intentionally looking to see Christ developed in each other. Setbacks and disappointments do not negate the hope we have in Christ. Upsets and betrayals do not make His character less reliable and true.

It is marvellous and gratifying to know that God would allow us to produce patience as we hear and understand His word for us. That in itself is a great quality of fruitfulness for the glory of our Father.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden