Keith Hunt - Studies on the Fruits of the Spirit - Part three - Page Three   Restitution of All Things

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Studies in the Fruits of the Spirit - Part three

Three more great Fruits


                                    by

              The Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO, USA


LESSON 6

KINDNESS

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

PRESENTATION:

What is kindness? If we were to ask several people for a
definition, they might say: "Being friendly, gentle, cordial,
sympathetic, generous, compassionate, mercful, loving." The list
of synonyms could go on. But Jesus points us to our heavenly
Father as the greatest definition of kindness. God's kindness and
esteem for humanity far surpass people's concern for one another.

As His children, we are instructed to imitate Him by being kind
to others through Spirit-filled love. In fact, kindness is one of
the manifestations of love (1 Corinthians 13:4).

In Luke 6:35,36 Jesus admonished His disciples to love their
enemies, to do good, and to be kind and merciful as is their
heavenly Father. Paul said God "is rich in mercy, because of His
great love with which He loved us" (Ephesians 2:4). In the future
God will "show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus" (v.7). We will experience God's love,
mercy, and kindness throughout eternity.

Paul warned the Colossian Christians to put away the old nature,
which is antagonistic toward God and predisposed to evil deeds
(Colossians 3:5-9), and replace it with uplifting Christian
virtues, including kindness (vv.12-14). Among a long list of
Christlike qualities that help God's servants faithfully serve
and endure the hardships of the ministry, Paul included the
virtue of kindness (2 Corinthians 6:4-10).

We must remember that kindness is part of the fruit of the Spirit
(Galatians 5:22). The Spirit helps us be kind, patient, loving,
etc. However, we must submit to the Spirit's guidance for our
lives to bear these fruits, and for us to be God-fearing and
Christlike.

EXPLORING:

1. God and Jesus are our models in all aspects of Christian
living. What kindness did God and Jesus extend to humanity that
benefits all who will accept it through faith? Titus 3:4-7;
Ephesians 2:48.

2. Consider other biblical examples of God's showing kindness to
individuals or multitudes.

a. How was Joseph a beneficiary of God's kindness? Genesis
39:20-23.
b. What does Ezra say about God's mercy extended to a remnant of
the house of Judah? Ezra 9:8,9.
c. What did the prophets say about God's care for Judah and
Israel? Isaiah 54:8-10; Hosea 11:3,4.

3. According to Paul, what characteristics should our lifestyle
include besides kindness? Colossians 3:12-15. How do kindness and
compassion help us practice forgiveness? Verse 13; Ephesians
4:31,32.

4. Why did Jesus teach that love and mercy help us show kindness
toward someone considered an enemy? Luke 6:27,28,35,36.

RESPONDING:

1. a. Relate an experience of kindness you have heard about, or
an experience that you felt demonstrated kindness. What was there
in that person's lifestyle that reflected kindness?
b. How do we perceive kindness in others? Make a list of words
that describe this virtue.
c. Can you recall examples in Scripture of people who were kind?
Consider Joshua 2:1-14; 2 Samuel 9:1-7; Ads 28:1,2.

2. a. Relate a time when you experienced the kindness and
compassion of forgiveness when someone forgave you. Tell about
the kindness and compassion you demonstrated when you forgave
someone (a relative, friend, adversary).
b. If you drew a line on a scale of one to ten, each number
representing a degree or attitude of forgiveness and compassion,
with unforgiving as the lowest and forgiving as the highest,
where would you be on the scale? Why?
(lowest) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 (highest)

3. a. What is grace? How is kindness a demonstration of grace?
b. How have you, or have you not, demonstrated kindness through
generosity? If not, what stands in the way? What do you plan to
do about it?
c. In what ways is your church a generously kind congregation? In
what ways could it improve its generous kindness?

4. a. How does kindness help us understand what it means to be
spiritual, a new self in Christ, and a servant of God?
b. How do you and your church compare to the guidelines given in
Ephesians 4:17-32?

CLOSING: 

As Christians who are filled with the Holy Spirit, we should be
kind to others as a way of life. Our God-given affection for them
should motivate us to treat everyone fairly, with concern for
their welfare. The Bible is our manual; our heavenly Father and
Christ are our models.


LESSON 7 

GOODNESS

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who
fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His
goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off (Romans 11:22).

PRESENTATION:

The term goodness appears only a few times in the New Testament.
In Galatians 5:22 goodness is identified as a part of the fruit
of the Spirit, and in Ephesians 5:9 (New International Version,
NIV) as a "fruit of the light." (This phrase may be more precise
in the NIV than "fruit of the Spirit" as in other translations.
because the context is speaking of walking in the light.) Godly
light is provided by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Christian
"goodness" is not generated from human motivation, but is a fruit
we exhibit when the Spirit dwells within.

But can human beings truly be good? The question many times
arises while reading Mark 10:17,18 and Luke 18:18,19. In response
to the rich, young ruler, who addressed Him as "Good Teacher,"
Jesus said, "No one is good but One, that is, God" (Mark 10:18).
In saying this, Jesus was not disclaiming His own deity but
pointing out that all humans are sinners (He was also admitting
that He, Jesus was then, God - a part of the Godhead - but not
God the Father - Keith Hunt).

If we understand good as meaning morally perfect (what Jesus was
indicating), then only God is good. However, if we think of good
as trying our best to keep God's commandments, then humans may be
good by human standards, because it is understood that we cannot
keep the commandments perfectly. In Matthew 19:16,17, and 21,
the rich young ruler asked, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall
I do that I may have eternal life?" Jesus responded, "If you want
to enter into life, keep the commandments .... If you want to be
perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you
will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 
The self-righteous young man did not admit his own failure and
sin. When Jesus tested him further by asking him to sell his
possessions, he failed again by showing that he loved himself and
his possessions more than his neighbors. And he lacked the faith
to surrender his things to follow Jesus. Jesus was not indicating
that keeping the commandments, or even selling all he had to give
to the poor, would gain the young ruler eternal life. Jesus was
pointing out that the young rulers priorities were misplaced.
Jesus' answer to his initial question was "Come, follow Me."
Paul assembled a series of Old Testament quotations (Romans
3:10-18) that verify that humans are incapable of doing good 
(v.12b) and being righteous (v.10) by God's standard. 

Good identifies a person who is righteous, and to do good means
to do right. According to verse 23, "all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God" - there is no good (righteousness)
among humanity. In our own human efforts, we fail to achieve
righteousness, according to God's standard of righteousness. But
in and through Jesus Christ we can have God's goodness - that is,
His righteousness - in us (Romans 3:21-26). Though we have
sinned, by faith we are justified by God's grace through the
redemption in Christ Jesus.

EXPLORING:

1. a. What did God say about His own characteristics in Exodus
34:5-7?
b. What do the Scriptures say about God's goodness, in
particular? Psalm 31:19; 33:5; 52:16.

2. How did the rich young ruler and Jesus understand the concept
of doing good? Read the third paragraph of this lesson's
Presentation and Matthew 19:16-21.

3. a. On what basis did Paul tell the Christians in Rome (Romans
15:14) that they were "full of goodness"? Romans 3:21-28.
b. In a Christian aspect, how do the words goodness and
righteousness compare? Read the fourth paragraph of the
Presentation.

RESPONDING:

1. What qualities come to your mind when you think of a good
person?

2. How realistic are your expectations of goodness for yourself?
How do you measure up to them? How does this make you feel?

3. How does the definition of goodness, as commonly understood by
society, compare with the biblical guidelines we studied in this
lesson?

4. Do you know someone, including you, who is motivated to do
good in order to be accepted by others? In what ways is that
scripturally appropriate or inappropriate?

5. Do you believe you have the virtue of goodness as described in
the fruit of the Spirit? Why or why not?

CLOSING: 

Let's remember that goodness is part of the fruit of the Spirit;
therefore, it is light in the midst of darkness (Ephesians
5:814). This light is not our own but the radiance that comes
from the One who is the light of the world. He is Jesus Christ,
and it is only through Him that we can be called good, or
righteous. Let's follow His example.



LESSON 8

FAITHFULNESS

His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful
servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you
ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew
25:21).

PRESENTATION: 

When we speak of a faithful person, we are saying he is
trustworthy, honest, and loyal. Even then we may be inclined to
ask for evidence. Not so with God. If we believe in God, we need
not doubt His faithfulness. Many Bible verses tell about God's
faithfulness. We even have the assurance that His Word is
faithful (Titus 1:9).

A multitude of men and women in the Bible were faithful to God.
Noah is an early example. Though all others gave their lives to
sinful, ungodly living, Noah was devoted to God and had complete
faith in Him as he followed God's instructions to build a huge
boat on dry land.

Abraham is another giant among faithful men. Though he grew up
among pagan people, he heeded God's call to leave his home and
friends and travel many miles to a strange land. Various
obstacles and hardships failed to deter him. When God asked
Abraham to sacrifice Isaac - the son God had promised him in his
old age - he obeyed, believing that God could raise his son
again. When God stopped Abraham from slaying Isaac at the last
instant, God knew that this servant was fully committed to Him.

Sarah also believed in the faithfulness of God, who gave her the
ability to conceive and bear a son in her old age.

Though they were not perfect, these and many others believed in
God's faithfulness and became faithful to Him. They did not have
the powerful Word of God that we have today to fortify our faith
and guide us in daily affairs. Neither did most of them have the
Holy Spirit in their lives continually as we do now. Today the
Spirit dwells within us, providing the influence of the Father
and Son. The fruit of the Spirit, including the virtue of
faithfulness, is a benefit of the indwelling Spirit.
(In the Old Testament some people had the Spirit, but it was
"with" them at times and NOT "in" them as a continuous beggetal,
or as united with the spirit of the mind of man. For it is
written that Jesus was the FIRST begotten of God, the first human
to have the Spirit united with the mind, on and after the day of
Pentecost - Acts 2 - the Spirit came to dwell and unite with all
who believed in Jesus, repented and who were baptized - Keith
Hunt).

Faithfulness toward God is essential in believers' lives for them
to have an intimate relationship with God and Christ. They are
faithful toward us, and they require our faithfulness toward
them. We are faithful when we live a Christlike life that honors
God and serves humanity. The New Testament contains much
instruction on how to live such a life. Thus, we must study the
faithful Word and seek the Spirit's guidance to live a joyful,
fulfilled life.

EXPLORING:

1. Our eternal God is our source and primary example of
faithfulness. Referring to the closing, consider a few of
humanity's benefits from God's faithfulness.
a. What assurance do we have that we can be forgiven and cleansed
of our sins?
b. In our spiritual battle, whom can we count on for help?
c. Should we expect temptations? Whom can we rely on with
complete confidence to provide a way of escape?
d. Discuss ways by which God's faithfulness has been manifested
since creation. List things God has done that are worthy of your
praise.

2. a. How steadfast should our confidence in Jesus Christ be?
Hebrews 10:23.
b. Does our faithlessness affect our Saviors faithfulness? 
2 Timothy 2:13.
c. What was required of our Savior to become "a merciful and
faithful High Priest"? Hebrews 2:17.

3. How did Jesus teach His disciples about faithfulness by
speaking to them in a parable? Matthew 25:14-28.

4. What are some of Paul's instructions for behaving as a
responsible, faithful Christian? Romans 12:9-13.

Note: The NIV says "faithful in prayer" in verse 12, while the
NKJV says "continuing steadfastly in prayer." Certainly, prayer
serves as a cornerstone to living a faithful Christian life.

5. What instructions did Paul offer to insure that faithful men
would continue to carry on the gospel work? 2 Timothy 2:2.

RESPONDING:

1. Which men and women in the Bible stand out for you as examples
of faithfulness? Why? Hebrews 11 offers a quick reference for
several.

2. Select a Bible hero who especially was a faithful servant of
God. What does this person offer you in your Christian journey?

3. What is your strategy to be faithful to God?

CLOSING:


Our faithfulness toward God is a top requirement. Our heavenly
Father and Jesus Christ are faithful toward us, and They have
given us the Holy Spirit to help us be faithful to Them. Let's
learn and do what is necessary to fulfill our responsibilities.

Consider Our Source of Faithfulness

Many Bible verses underscore experiences of God's faithfulness to
His people, NeRE are a few.

1 John 1:9 - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 Corinthians 1:9- "God is faithful, by whom you were called into
the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
2 Thessalonians 3:3 - "But the Lord is faithful, who will
establish you and guard you from the evil one."
1 Corinthians 10:13 - "No temptation has overtaken you except
such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow
you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the
temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able
to bear it"
Psalm 119:90- "Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You
established the earth, and it abides."
Isaiah 25:1 - "0 LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will
praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your
counsels of old are faithfulness and truth:"

                           .....................

TO BE CONTINUED


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