religion

I’ve wanted to write this column for many years, but have not had the unction or the freedom to sit down and do so. I decided several months ago that I would tackle my inner thoughts on mothers and sons and daughters while my health and mind were still up for the challenge. Let me add here before I delve in that I know all family dynamics are not the same.

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I was sitting today in my favorite rocking chair on the big sun-washed deck literally doing nothing but looking out on the beautiful bay and thinking about how very pretty the water was shimmering and the fluffy white clouds that were bouncing in the sky. Every once in a while, my revelry would be disturbed or interrupted by a boat speeding by, heading under the bridge or to the marina for more gas or bait, a brightly colored jet ski stirring up the water in playful pursuit of another, or a few shore birds stopping to nibble on our oyster reefs.

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Wow! I confess I did not know where to start with this one. As I read more and more and studied writings and sermons, and read the Scriptures I could find on goodness, I realized just how big this subject is and how very little space we have to tackle it here in one column. Goodness is very important to God, and it is the sixth of the nine fruits listed in our reference verses found in Galatians.

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Let’s review the nine fruits of the Spirit of God. We started with love, joy, peace and meekness, and devoted two columns to the art of long-suffering before moving on to gentleness, today’s topic. How many of us have now memorized the fruits in the order in which they are listed? I confess I got two of them out of order when writing and was excited to get to one I particularly liked and had to do some backtracking to get them back in perspective. Perhaps this will help: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

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Meekness, I fear, is a very misunderstood word in our modern culture. One of the very best definitions I have found is, “An attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others.” Meekness is mentioned often in Scripture, but I do not remember a great amount of time being given to discussion and teaching of the word.

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We began our study of the fruits of the Spirit as found in the Book of Galatians, Chapter 5, and covered love, joy, peace and started on long-suffering. Long-suffering has many meanings to many different people. Merriam Webster dictionary defines long-suffering as “patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” Another resource book defines it as “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people (his long-suffering wife).”

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We have looked at love, joy, peace, and now we come to long-suffering. It always amazes me that when I am writing in any sort of order or with a defined outline of subjects I want to cover, the Lord sees to it that I have plenty of material. He did not fail this time.

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We have reached the third fruit of the Spirit of God, peace, and I can attest to the fact that God is always on time with His messages for us. There has never been a time in my life that I remember more people needing to find peace in their lives, homes, professions, neighborhoods, communities, and yes, though it’s sad to write, their churches. There is such vying for authority, leadership roles, being No. 1, and getting attention that it is a wonder the dear Lord has much room to work in hearts.

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What is love? Everyone has his or her own take on what the short four-letter word means, and the Bible has much to say about it as well. We hear a lot about it during the month of February, and men and women, and boys and girls are shopping, creating and thinking about what to do to express their love.

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22 and 23).

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