CHARACTERS OF THE KINGDOM (PT.1)
TEXT: GAL 5:24-26
In the last study, we were by the grace of God able to conclude our study on the topic tagged the Great Commission as a way to enter into the Kingdom. In this study, we will be examining the topic tagged “Characters of the Kingdom”. In examining and understanding this topic, there is a need for us to try and do some semantic examination of the word Character. The word Character has its origin from the French word “Caractere” meaning ‘distinctive mark’, ‘feature or trait’ which was gotten through the word “Kharakter” meaning ‘a stamping tool’ which has both Latin and Greek origin. Character can also be said to mean the distinctive nature of something. These Characters can also be said to mean fruits of the Spirit.
The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is therefore a term that sums up nine attributes of a person or community living in accord with the Holy Spirit, according to chapter 5 of the Epistle to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These fruits are contrasted with the works of the flesh which immediately precede it in this chapter. This Study will thus be an attempt to study these fruits or characters one after the other with the exception of love which will be examined wholly in another study. Some of the fruits of the Spirit are:
Joy (Gal 5:22; Rom 12:12; Phil 4:4)
The joy referred to here is deeper than mere happiness. It is rooted in God and comes from Him. Since it comes from God, it is more serene and stable than worldly happiness, which is merely emotional and lasts only for a time. As Christians, God is therefore expecting us to exhibit this joy and let the people around us feel this joy radiating in us and through us. Joy does not pertain when things are good only; it is something that should be exhibited when things are not going well. If we display Joy in all situations, then we won’t give chance for wrong advice and temptation but when we show moodiness all the time, then we will open the door for concern which will in turn bring advices that will take us away from the kingdom.
Peace (Col 3:15; Heb 13: 20, 21; 1Thess 5:23; Phil 4:7)
The word “peace” comes from the Greek word eirene, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word shalom, which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures. The word eirene strongly suggests the rule of order in place of chaos. Another form of peace we need to exhibit is peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord. In Matthew 5:9 He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” We must know that God is a God of peace and he wants us to practice and exhibit peace and let peace be deeply rooted in us.
Patience (1 Pet 4:12-14)
Exodus 34:6 describes the Lord as “slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Patience, which in some translations is “longsuffering” or “endurance”, is defined by two Greek words, makrothumia and hupomone. The first, pronounced (mak-roth-oo-mee-ah) comes from makros, “long”, and thumos, “temper”. The word denotes lenience, forbearance, fortitude, patient endurance, longsuffering. Also included in makrothumia is the ability to endure persecution and ill-treatment. It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. The latter, hupomone, (hoop-om-on-ay) is translated “endurance”: Constancy, perseverance, continuance, bearing up, steadfastness, holding out, patient endurance. The word combines hupo, “under”, and mone, “to remain”. It describes the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with a passive complacency, but with a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat, with hupomone being further understood as that which would be “as opposed to cowardice or despondency.” Numerous examples of people who exhibited patience abound in the Bible. They include Job, Abraham, Jesus etc. No wonder it is said that the patient dog eats the fattest bone. Anyone who wants to inherit the kingdom of God must be patient.
KINDNESS (Romans 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4)
Kindness is acting for the good of people regardless of what they do. Kindness is goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence, affability. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience. The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control.
The word kindness comes from the Greek word chrestotes (khray-stot-ace), which meant to show kindness or to be friendly to others and often depicted rulers, governors, or people who were kind, mild, and benevolent to their subjects. Anyone who demonstrated this quality of chrestotes was considered to be compassionate, considerate, sympathetic, humane, kind, or gentle. The apostle Paul uses this word to depict God’s incomprehensible kindness for people who are unsaved. One scholar has noted that when the word chrestotes is applied to interpersonal relationships, it conveys the idea of being adaptable to others. Rather than harshly require everyone else to adapt to his own needs and desires, when chrestotes is working in a believer, he seeks to become adaptable to the needs of those who are around him.
Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respect and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what. We should live “in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left”.
CONCLUSION (Gal 5:24)
The world is no longer reading the Bible; rather the world is reading the characters of the so called Christians and this thus raise the need for Christians to exhibit the Characters discussed above. Since we have said that we have crucified the flesh, there is a need for us to exhibit the characters of the kingdom. It important to state that being saved is not a call to living a carefree and nonchalant life rather it is a call to live our lives in the way stipulated by the Almighty God.