Martin Luther on the Fruit of the Spirit

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I thought it would be a good idea to start out the month with Martin Luther’s definition of each fruit of the spirit.

 

All the passages below are taken from the:

Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians (1535)

by Martin Luther

Translated by Theodore Graebner

(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949)

Ch. 5, pp. 216-236

 

http://www.ctsfw.edu/etext/luther/

 

     VERSES 22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

The Apostle does not speak of the works of the Spirit as he spoke of the works of the flesh, but he attaches to these Christian virtues a better name. He calls them the fruits of the Spirit.

LOVE

It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul attributes to love all the fruits of the Spirit: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind,” etc. Here he lets love stand by itself among other fruits of the Spirit to remind the Christians to love one another, “in honor preferring one another,” to esteem others more than themselves because they have Christ and the Holy Ghost within them.

JOY

Joy means sweet thoughts of Christ, melodious hymns and psalms, praises and thanksgiving, with which Christians instruct, inspire, and refresh themselves. God does not like doubt and dejection. He hates dreary doctrine, gloomy and melancholy thought. God likes cheerful hearts. He did not send His Son to fill us with sadness, but to gladden our hearts. For this reason the prophets, apostles, and Christ Himself urge, yes, command us to rejoice and be glad. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee.” (Zech. 9:9.) In the Psalms we are repeatedly told to be “joyful in the Lord.” Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Christ says: “Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven.”

PEACE

Peace towards God and men. Christians are to be peaceful and quiet. Not argumentative, not hateful, but thoughtful and patient. There can be no peace without longsuffering, and therefore Paul lists this virtue next.

LONGSUFFERING [Patient]

Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run. He knows that we are weak and cannot stand anything long. Therefore he repeats his temptation time and again until he succeeds. To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game.

GENTLENESS

Gentleness in conduct and life. True followers of the Gospel must not be sharp and bitter, but gentle, mild, courteous, and soft-spoken, which should encourage others to seek their company. Gentleness can overlook other people’s faults and cover them up. Gentleness is always glad to give in to others. Gentleness can get along with forward and difficult persons, according to the old pagan saying: “You must know the manners of your friends, but you must not hate them.” Such a gentle person was our Savior Jesus Christ, as the Gospel portrays Him. Of Peter it is recorded that he wept whenever he remembered the sweet gentleness of Christ in His daily contact with people. Gentleness is an excellent virtue and very useful in every walk of life.

GOODNESS

 A person is good when he is willing to help others in their need.

FAITH

In listing faith among the fruits of the Spirit, Paul obviously does not mean faith in Christ, but faith in men. Such faith is not suspicious of people but believes the best. Naturally the possessor of such faith will be deceived, but he lets it pass. He is ready to believe all men, but he will not trust all men. Where this virtue is lacking men are suspicious, forward, and wayward and will believe nothing nor yield to anybody. No matter how well a person says or does anything, they will find fault with it, and if you do not humor them you can never please them. It is quite impossible to get along with them. Such faith in people therefore, is quite necessary. What kind of life would this be if one person could not believe another person?

MEEKNESS

A person is meek when he is not quick to get angry. Many things occur in daily life to provoke a person’s anger, but the Christian gets over his anger by meekness.

TEMPERANCE [Self-control]

Christians are to lead sober and chaste lives. They should not be adulterers, fornicators, or sensualists. They should not be quarrelers or drunkards. In the first and second chapters of the Epistle to Titus, the Apostle admonishes bishops, young women, and married folks to be chaste and pure.

 

 

 

 

New Month/New Theme

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“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 5:23

One of our authors was interested in having some sort of “free for all” month when we could write on any topic.  After discussion we decided to select “fruit of the spirit” as our theme for December.  Although we are limited to the nine qualities above, this still allows us a wide range of verses and ideas for blogging.

The fruit of the spirit also seems especially appropriate for the Christmas season.  This is a time when we should experience this fruit as we eagerly await Christ’s birth.  But do we?  Sometimes this season of joy and peace becomes filled with stress and discord.  Our patience is tried as we attempt to do it all:  shopping, baking, entertaining. Instead of being kind, gentle and loving, we become tired, irritable and whiney.  Self control is lost as we participate in the gluttony of eating, drinking and gift-giving.

Surely this is not what Christmas is about.  So join into our blog discussions and let us know how this Holy Season is affecting you.  Is the fruit of the spirit evident in your life?  How can you cultivate this fruit?  Let us know what you think.

God loves you and so do I!

 

 

 

Thankful for Stress!!

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Giving thanks to God is easy when times are good. Sitting around the table this Thanksgiving with family, it is easy to remember why I am so blessed and thankful for all of the things that God has given me. But what about in the more trying of times? I have always been a person who dislikes conflicts and gives in easily to stress, so there are certainly times when I am not feeling very thankful. Usually it is just something small- a stressful day at work, a real estate deal that fell through, or an angry customer or client. Do I give thanks to God for my blessings during these times? Nope- instead, I usually resort to self pity, complaining, and sharing the conflicts around with friends and family members.

Reading this verse helps me put things into perspective:

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is important to remember how insignificant the specifics of each day are; it is just a drop in the pool of what is the ‘big picture’ or ‘God’s Plan’. It is comforting to take peace in knowing that everything is a part of this large plan; and that instead of feeling stressed, I need to look for the learning experience and grow from each small catastrophe in life. God is great and life is good!!

Giving Thanks for God’s Mercy

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I thought it would be nice to close out the month with something from the Bible.  In Psalm 136 the psalmist gives thanks for God’s enduring love and mercy throughout history.

Psalm 136

136 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.

10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

11 And brought out Israel from among them: for his mercy endureth for ever:

12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth for ever.

13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts: for his mercy endureth for ever:

14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth for ever:

15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.

16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

17 To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

18 And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever:

19 Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever:

20 And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever:

21 And gave their land for an heritage: for his mercy endureth for ever:

22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for his mercy endureth for ever.

23 Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever.

25 Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever.

26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Let Thanksgiving Lead to Action

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O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen.

-Samuel F. Pugh

This prayer is a good reminder that giving thanks should not just be a passive exercise.  It should spur us on to love and encourage others so that they will come to know and understand the grace of God.

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Teaching Thanksgiving

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“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.”  Deuteronomy 11:18-19

I was in South Carolina this week with my daughter and my granddaughter.  Both of them said in elementary school, they were taught that the thanksgiving feast was about the pilgrims thanking the Indians for their help in surviving the winter.  I explained that although they may have invited the Indians as a gesture and friendship and thanks, the primary intention of the pilgrims was to thank God, who brought them to the new world and graciously provided for them there.

This led me to think about how we all have a responsibility to teach God’s truth, not only our children, but everyone with whom we come in contact. In the anecdote above, you can see how quickly even historical truth can become perverted by the world.  If we don’t teach God’s word, in a generation or two, it may be lost.  This happened in the Bible (for an example, read about King Josiah in 2 Kings chapters 22 and 23) and it happens today.  Martin Luther wrote the catechism so that parents could teach their children about God each day in their own home, not just once a week in church.

So don’t allow Thanksgiving to become “turkey day”.  Use it as reminder to have an attitude of thanks every day, all year long.  Let your children, your grandchildren, your friends and neighbors know that you are thankful to the God for all that you have and are.

 

Martin Luther on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Thoughts from Martin Luther Excerpts from Luther’s Large Catechism (1529) The Explanation of the First Article of the Apostles Creed

I hold and believe that I am God’s creature, that is, that he has given me and constantly sustains my body, soul, and life, my members great and small, all my senses, my reason and understanding, and the like; my food and drink, clothing, nourishment, spouse and children, servants, house and farm, etc. Besides, he makes all creation help provide the benefits and necessities of life—sun, moon, and stars in the heavens; day and night; air, fire, water, the earth and all that it yields and brings forth; birds, fish, animals, grain, and all sorts of produce. Moreover, he gives all physical and temporal blessings—good government, peace, security. Thus we learn from this article that none of us has life—or anything else that has been mentioned here or can be mentioned—from ourselves, nor can we by ourselves preserve any of them, however small and unimportant. All this is comprehended in the word ―Creator.‖ Moreover, we also confess that God the Father has given us not only all that we have and what we see before our eyes, but also that he daily guards and defends us against every evil and misfortune, warding off all sorts of danger and disaster. All this he does out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a kind father who cares for us so that no evil may befall us. Hence, because everything we possess, and everything in heaven and on earth besides, is daily given, sustained, and protected by God, it inevitably follows that we are in duty bound to love, praise, and thank him without ceasing, and, in short, to devote all these things to his service, as he has required and enjoined in the Ten Commandments. Here much could be said if we were to describe how few people believe this article. We all pass over it; we hear it and recite it, but we neither see nor think about what the words command us to do. For if we believed it with our whole heart, we would also act accordingly, and not swagger about and boast and brag as if we had life, riches, power, honor, and such things of ourselves, as if we ourselves were to be feared and served. This is the way the wretched, perverse world acts, drowned in its blindness, misusing all the blessings and gifts of God solely for its own pride, greed, pleasure, and enjoyment, and never once turning to God to thank him or acknowledge him as Lord or Creator. Therefore, if we believe it, this article should humble and terrify all of us. For we sin daily with eyes, ears, hands, body and soul, money and property, and with all that we have, especially those who even fight against the Word of God. Yet Christians have this advantage, that they acknowledge that they owe it to God to serve and obey him for all these things. For this reason we ought daily to practice this article, impress it upon our minds, and remember it in everything we see and in every blessing that comes our way. Whenever we escape distress or danger, we should recognize how God gives and does all of this so that we may sense and see in them his fatherly heart and his boundless love toward us. Thus our hearts will be warmed and kindled with gratitude to God and a desire to use all these blessings to his glory and praiseThanksgiving Thoughts from Martin Luther Excerpts from Luther’s Large Catechism (1529) The Explanation of the First Article of the Apostles Creed

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

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When we sit down to dinner today, and look over the array of tasty dishes offered, many of will give thanks for our many blessings. Before you do that, I want you to read what I am thankful for.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am thankful that you have given me the gift of your precious and only Son to sacrifice for me on the cross, the debt He did not owe
I am thankful for your supplying the air I breathe and the wonderful world I live in
I am thankful that I live in a country where I can say loud and proud I am a Christian and not have to worry about being persecuted for saying it
I am thankful for the food You have provided me to eat
I am thankful for the home that You have provided that I live in
I am thankful for the clothes that You have provided that give me warmth and modesty
I am thankful for the wonderful, caring and loving husband You have provided me
I am thankful for the family I have been given by You
I am thankful for the children I am blessed with, provided by You

I guess when it comes down to it, God, I am thankful that You have chosen me as your adopted daughter and provided for me all those things that I am unable to provide for myself without Your help.

So in a nutshell, God, I am thankful for You most of all.

I pray all these things in the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

My thanks go to the One who gave and continues to give us everything He has.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

Thankful for Spiritual Blessings

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“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

Our sermon last Sunday was about giving thanks for our spiritual blessings.  When we give thanks, we most often think of how God has provided for our material and emotional needs.  Things like food, shelter, health, family and friends are definitely on our “thank you” list.

But what about spiritual blessings?  Too often we take them for granted, we forget that they are even greater gifts from God.  So take a minute to read the first chapter of Ephesians, giving thanks for each of the spiritual blessings the apostle Paul enumerates.

  1. God chose us before the foundation of the world
  2. God adopted us
  3. God redeemed us through the blood of Christ
  4. God forgives our sins through his grace
  5. God makes His will known to us
  6. God gives us hope
  7. God sends us the Holy Spirit

You might close your thank you devotional time with the doxology, which was written by Thomas Ken, “England’s first hymnist.”

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;  Praise Him, all creatures here below;  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”