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Do You Have a Short Fuse?

Galatians 5: 22

Jesus prayed for His followers of every era. He said, “I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…” (John 14: 16, 17).

His reference is to the indwelling Holy Spirit. When there is inert life and energy in a vine it manifests itself in the vine bearing fruit. It is inevitable. When the Holy Spirit is in a believer, He is the energy source who produces fruit in a life. The pride of the vine is its fruit. The pride of the Holy Spirit is the fruit He is allowed to produce in our lives.

Galatians 5: 22 lists nine aspects in our lives. The text says “the harvest of the Spirit is…”. Grammatically that appears to involve a singular noun, harvest, and plural verbs.

The solution is found in the Greek word “karpos” translated “fruit.” In 1611, in England, when the New Testament was translated from Greek to English, harvest time was called a time of “fruiting” so they translated it “fruit.” Today the word “harvest” is a better translation.

The nine characteristics harvested by the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer divide themselves into three groups of three. The first grouping, love, joy, and peace, are virtues that come from God.

The second three: longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness are dispositions that relate to other people.

The first three are upward and the second three are outward.

“Longsuffering” translates a Greek word combination.” “Makros” is a Greek word that has found its way into the vocabulary of teenagers. Micro means small, markos means large or long. The second word is “thumas” which means passion. Combined they are often translated “longsuffering” or a word more commonly used: “patient.”

Of all things with which we should be patient we should put ourselves  foremost. If we are patient we can be patient with circumstances and people. Thus, we can show “… all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…” (Ephesians 4:2).

Then we can, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…” (Romans 12:12).

Kindness Breaks Down Barriers

An act of kindness often hard to express is forgiveness. We are instructed to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 32).

The preceding verse gives insight into what this entails: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”

God the Father, for Jesus’ sake forgave us. Our forgiveness of one another compared seems insignificant. Yet, it is the significant means by which we demonstrate His likeness in us.

Jesus Christ is still the greatest king of the ages. His cross is the greatest throne of all. His crown of thorns is the most glorious of earthly diadems.

The kindest words ever spoken were uttered in the crucible of crisis amid the pain and cruelty of Calvary as Jesus cried out: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do….”

The greatest thing a person can do for His Heavenly Father is to be kind to his Father’s other children.

It remains to be demonstrated if we will be among His most loyal subjects.

What happened just outside Jerusalem when the sinless Son of God died for the sins of the sons of men can shake to dust the rule of bitterness and hate. Love is stronger than hate, kindness stronger than cruelty, and goodness will outwear evil when Christ conquers a life — by His cross. Resolve to emulate Him.

Jesus taught us to forgive saying, “… whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11: 25).

Therein Jesus made a close connection between forgiving others and ourselves being forgiven. This is important if you have unforgiven sin in your life.

On another occasion Jesus taught on the topic from a different perspective. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Bottom line, the unforgiving are unforgiven because they are unforgivable.

Reflect on this formula: “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 32).

Think of the person you are struggling to forgive. Then resolve: “Jesus I love you. You forgave me and now out of gratitude I want to demonstrate to you my appreciation by forgiving this person.”

That is the most definitive form of kindness.

If needful pray a prayer like this: “Father, please forgive me when I permit bitterness, anger, wrath or anything else to keep me from forgiving others. Help me to surrender my rights and forgive as you forgave me.”

Does Kindness Characterize You?

If you know the least bit about the Bible you know it advocates kindness as a trait of God. However, when what many people know of the Bible is considered, it must be acknowledged that little is known about the Bible by many persons. One person was asked to describe the wife of Lot. He mixed his metaphors in answering, “She was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.”

The works of the flesh are noted in Galatians 5: 19 – 21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, adultery, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Downers aren’t they!

At the opposite end of the spectrum from these works of evil are acts of kindness noted in Colossians 3: 12 – 14: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Uppers aren’t they!

These items constitute a worthy wardrobe because they are traits of our Lord. Kindness is not only a characteristic, it is conduct.

Kindness prompts us to be considerate of another’s welfare, character, and general well being.

George Whitfield and John Wesley were contemporary spiritual giants. They had several major theological differences. A reporter once asked Wesley if he expected to see Whitfield in heaven.

“No, I certainly don’t,” replied Wesley instantly.

“Well, then,” said the reporter, “do you think Mr. Whitfield is a converted man?”

“Of course he is a converted man,” said Wesley, “but I don’t expect to see him in heaven because he will be so close to the throne of God that from the distance I will be I will not be able to see him.”

He disagreed with Whitfield on doctrine, but was kind to him as a brother. He was gentle with his reputation as a brother and would do nothing to impugn his character. Learn from his example how to live as a showroom of the traits of kindness noted above in Colossians 3: 12 – 14. Go back and reflect on them and commit to them.

Make God Your Control Tower

On April 3, 1977 two 747 jets collided on the runway at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. 575 people died. Why?

It was a busy and foggy morning. The main airport was closed and this smaller one had to be used. Instead of moving into position on a taxiway, planes had to use the main runway. The Dutch pilot, for some unknown reason, started his take off without clearance from the control tower. The other plane was on the runway and the collision resulted in hundreds of deaths.

One basic lesson taught pilots is that in an air traffic control zone, you do not do what seems right to you, you do what the control tower tells you. The reason is obvious. The tower knows things you don’t. They have better information and everyone’s welfare in mind. To act independently causes disaster.

That is not only true in aviation, but in life. A thick moral fog has moved over our society. Old reliable landmarks are no longer visible. Spiritual visibility is nil. Everyone seems to want to fly by the seat of their pants. Such moral and ethical relativism is degrading and dehumanizing. As a society we are terribly confused morally and spiritually. The basis for judging right and wrong has been obscured.

The true joy of life is found in living a Colossians 3:23 life: There is a little book on my desk entitled “God’s Trombones.” It contains this quote, “Young man yo arms are too short to box with God.”

This God within, the source of our enthusiasm, is a mighty God. Various people find that out in different ways.

Arrogantly the egotistical general Napoleon, perhaps the greatest military leader of all times, flaunted his power. He was known for his unconquerable will. It was known that he willed to have the world at his feet. His strategy for achieving this staggering goal neared fulfillment.

History records that as the little general and his vast army marched on Moscow he boasted, “Russia next, then Britain and Napoleon shall rule the world.”

The great Napoleon spoke and our mighty God acted. A tiny snowflake fell on the braided cuff of the emperor’s sleeve. He brushed it off as nothing. Then another, and another, and they kept on falling until Napoleon’s proud army broke and in despair retreated, a sick shadow of its former self.

Napoleon boasted and our awesome God acted. The gentle snows of Russia and the torrents of rain at Waterloo left the emperor, according to historians, muttering, “God Almighty was too much for me.”

God Almighty is the God Who is just the right size to fill the empty place in your heart and give you spiritual victory.

With All Your Heart

Jesus deserves energetic and enthusiastic followers. You have friends awaiting an example of an exuberant follower of Jesus. You are the best Christian somebody knows.

Are you regressive and depressive – or – aggressive and expressive?

Before the completion of the New Testament texts, people were won to faith in Christ and faithfully followed Him not because of a passage of stirring Scripture, but because of a person of spiritual stability. They still are.

Un-cowering and uncompromising confidence in and commitment to Jesus attracted others to Him. It still does.

In Colossians 3: 23 we have a main vein of Spiritual truth. It speaks of – – – action. “Whatsoever you DO…”.

Our Lord has established certain goals and standards of things for us to do in order to prove to ourselves and demonstrate to others our devotion to Him.

From a secular world view comes the spiritual nugget of truth spoken by legendary football coach Vince Lombardi: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor.”

That is Colossians 3: 23 applied.

Whatever you do be certain to do it as to the Lord and do it with feeling. Be enthusiastic.

Knowing the derivation of the word enthusiasm helps. It comes from two Greek words. The prefix ‘en” means “within.” The Greek word “theos” means “God.” Enthusiasm means “the God within.” When Jesus is the God within your enthusiasm it is in direct proportion to the extent of control He is allowed over your life.

Historian Arnold Toynbee said, “Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: an ideal which takes the imagination by storm, and a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.”

When devotion to Jesus takes your imagination by storm, prayerfully seek His will regarding His plan for you to carry it out daily.

Enthusiasm is faith that has been set on fire.