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Works of the Flesh vs.
Fruit of the Spirit
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     “Liberation, a man once claimed, has meaning only to the oppressed.” To the fat and happy, there is nothing to be liberated from. A Messiah has no meaning to one whose life is turmoil-free. So, let us not allow ourselves to believe that there is no purpose in our current sufferings, nor that Yahweh is displeased with us who have granted mercy to others – only to receive shunning, exile and shaming in return. No. What we are going through is not our Creator letting go of us; rather, He is now preparing us for what is to come and, in the process, He is keeping us on the Way!
     We pray for liberation; not here in this time, but Eternal Liberation. Medals hanging from ribbons and the plunder of silver and gold given for worldly victories will be melted down to make bullets by our enemies. There is no hope in victory, for those whose enemies are of the flesh. Nevertheless, when those who fight against malevolent spiritual powers and principalities in high places receive material blessings from Yahweh, are they not gifts to further the work of our Elohim? May it be so, through Yahweh-Yireh, our Provider!
     It is important to understand clearly what the differences are between the “Works of the Flesh” and the “Fruit of the Spirit”; especially if we desire to not fall into the realm of the lost. Shaul has some amazing things to say about this.
     In this presentation, I will be using Paul’s Hebrew name, Shaul, because “Paul” is a misnomer, meaning “least”; and clearly, Shaul is not the least in terms of what he accomplished in his life, through the Set-apart Spirit. I say this, in spite of his humility, in which he described himself as the least of the Apostles. It should be noted that his Hebrew name means “to inquire, request or demand.”
Works of the Flesh
     Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, 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 Yahweh, Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV.
     Let’s examine these contrasting values and behaviours of the Works of the Flesh.

     “Adultery” is the Greek word, moicheia; which means adultery, and includes the idea of having an illicit male lover. Figuratively, adultery refers to the act of “apostasy,” the act of breaking a covenant originally taken.
     So, if the depth of meaning is applied to this word, it not only means someone who commits a sexual act outside of marriage (and the concordant inference is that it is a female who is the offender), it can also mean someone who abandons the worship of Yahweh Elohim to follow a more pleasurable, less strife-filled form of worship. By using the same allusion to gender, the word “adultery” may describe the Bride of Yahshua (that’s all of us, no matter what gender) wandering off from “home” (where we found our “first love”) to seek ever new and exciting ways to find relief from familiarity. Perhaps a better translation for the word, adultery, in a figurative or spiritual sense, is “apostasy.”
     To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden menorahs: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love, Revelation 2:1-4 NIV.

     “Fornicaion” is the Greek word, porneia; which means harlotry (including adultery and incest). The figurative sense is the practice of idolatry.
     So, “fornication” does not only reference deviant sexual practices of all types, it implies the spiritual practice of devoting our lives to something, more so than we give our lives over to Yahweh. Let us not give way to the Devil or his legions.

     “Uncleanness” is the Greek word, akatharsia; meaning ceremonially impure, morally lewd or especially demonic. It further derives from a Greek word meaning unpruned. Figuratively, it can mean unexpiated, meaning to refuse to apologize or recompense.
     So, “uncleanness” here means to be impure due to moral lewdness, even demonically unpruned like a wild thorn-bush, unapologetic and un-recompensing. In other words, the word refers to individuals who are boastful, puffed up in their own pride, uncommunicative and who refuse to be broken in spirit, humble and contrite.

Lewdness (“lasciviousness” in the KJV)
     “Lewdness” is the Greek word, aselgeia; meaning primarily continent; or, if you understand what it means to be “incontinent” then the opposite would be the unceasing, unrestrained discharge of such matter. It means licentiousness, which refers to immorality and shamelessness.
     OK. Lewdness is not a pretty picture. Of course, spiritually, this word describes individuals who are offensive to everyone they approach, and who have no intent to restrain themselves.

     “Idolatry” is the Greek word, eidololatreia, meaning image-worship, or the worship of a heathen deity or an idol. It also means to render religious homage or service.
     When we worship in Spirit and in Truth, we picture our Heavenly Father and, especially, His Son, Yahshua. We idolize Yahshua – He walked on the very ground we walk on, and we want to BE like Him, to walk in His ways, to speak His words, to see with His eyes and hear with His ears. He is the image we hold in our minds to compare to OUR walk, our talk, our compassion and our vision, so that we may destroy anything that is not in His manner. To idolize Yahshua is not idolatry, as Shaul is describing here. Idolatry is the act of worshipping something material or someone made of flesh and bone. It is comparing ourselves to other persons in order to become like them; it is speaking as they speak, committing the same deeds and applying their principles to our lives. It is seeking power and prestige among men, more so than seeking strength from Yahweh and doing good works in His eyes. That, in my opinion, is what I believe Shaul is referring to in using the word “idolatry.”

     “Sorcery” is the Greek word, pharmakeia, which means medication, and is the basis for the English word, pharmacy. It includes the idea of magic and witchcraft (the term used the KJV), also the idea of a poisoner.
     Allow me to distinguish a "medication,” developed with the intent of assisting an individual cope with a very real, identifiable disease – and a “drug” or “substance” used to distort reality, mystify or render relief from one’s troubled life. Amphetamines, for example, can be used to stimulate the heart rate when one’s heart has stopped beating. It can also be obtained illegally to stimulate a sense of power and strength in individuals who have succumbed to the belief that they are powerless in their lives. Sorcery is an act of deception, designed to create false hope, false power, false significance, false satisfaction and false courage. It is a mental tool of the Devil to poison our minds as well as our bodies, in the hope that we might DIE without the Truth while trying to escape the hardships of this life. Our call is to endure suffering, not avoid it through seemingly magical means. Substance abuse is not a modern problem, and Shaul clearly identifies “Substance Abuse” in this letter to the Galatians.
     I grew up watching TV evangelists performing magical healings, deceiving people into “believing” in the work of their ministry, while they accrued millions of dollars to support their empires. I later participated in a “works and wonders” church, allowing myself to believe in something I really couldn’t fathom. Yahweh called me out of that Babylon with the simple command, “Honor My Sabbath,” a call to abide in Him, not miracles of the flesh.

     “Hatred” is the Greek word, echthra; meaning hostility; and by implication, a reason for opposition. It derives from a Greek word meaning to be hateful; on one hand, to be odious, that is, abhorrent, loathsome, revolting, detestable, repulsive or obnoxious; and on the other hand, it means to be hostile. It also denotes an adversary, enemy or foe, and especially Satan.
     The intent of this word, “hatred,” seems to point to that behavior we most often find in unruly adolescents. Clinically, it’s called “Oppositional-Defiant Disorder,” the tendency to argue with everything an adult says. I can imagine the disdain that Shaul must have had when he was preaching the truth, and he would run into opposition from those who had their own agendas. My wife and I thought we were leaving that all behind when we moved from Fresno, California, to Kingdom City, Missouri, where we would find believers of like-mind, where we would not run into those who were deceptive, hiding their false beliefs until finding the “right moment” to strike out. I can empathize with Shaul. It is clear why the snake bite he suffered didn’t kill him. He’d been bitten too many times by more powerful snakes of other principalities!

     “Contentions” is the Greek word, eris, meaning a quarrel, or wrangling. In the KJV, eris is translated contention, debate, strife and variance.
     Again with the adolescents! I get the distinct idea that Shaul is describing those individuals who are constantly vying for their own wants, irrespective of others’ needs.

Jealousies (emulations)
     “Jealousies” is the Greek word, zelos, meaning heat, either "zeal" or “ardour,” meaning passion, enthusiasm, intense devotion or eagerness. It means jealousy, like that of a husband, or figuratively, like that of Yahshua for His Bride. It can also refer to the malice and indignation of an enemy.
     It’s amazing to see the aspects of love and hate all rolled up into one word, but I can’t imagine any other word that describes the reality of close relationships more than jealousy. Primary relationships
evoke the strongest bonds and the most intense and bitter disputes, aside from out-and-out warring nations. We can go from being willing to die for the one we love in one moment, and in the next be willing to kill that person.
     It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim, Hebrews 10:31.

Outbursts of Wrath
     “Outbursts of wrath” is the Greek word, thumos, meaning passion, as in breathing hard, to rush as in breathing hard, to blow or to smoke. Interestingly, it also can mean to sacrifice by fire, that is, to immolate, slaughter, kill, to do sacrifice, slay.
     By “outbursts of wrath,” Shaul isn’t just describing someone blowing off steam. He’s talking about someone who is so mad they want to kill or do away with someone or some people. Have you ever been acquainted with a person or persons who would sacrifice their friendships, or even their marriage, out of anger, to accomplish their own purposes? If we truthfully answer that question, it may be the person with whom we are most familiar – the one we look at every day in the mirror – who has done those things. The only way I can understand this type of behavior is to imagine that those who reject others believe that they, themselves, have been rejected and feel ashamed, guilt-ridden and worthless. I firmly believe that people who command and demand are coming from a state of utter feelings of powerlessness in their own lives. People who blame come from extreme guilt over things they’ve done wrong. We are most likely to threaten others when we, ourselves, feel the greatest fear.

Selfish Ambitions (KJV – “strife”)
     “Selfish ambitions” is the Greek word, eritheia, meaning intrigue or faction, denoting contention and strife, to stimulate to anger or to provoke. The English word “intrigue” denotes a conspiracy or a deceptive plot and even trickery. “Faction” means a “splinter group” or “division.”
     Shaul, here, is saying that one of the criterions for “works of the flesh” is the creation of division, especially within the Assembly. People who form factions, or “cliques,” who plot to divide the Assembly by provoking members to anger; who steal, lie and condemn – these are those whom Shaul is pointing out as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

     “Dissensions” is the Greek word, dichostasia; meaning disunion, dissension and sedition. It literally means “standing in two places at once.” It is a “popular uprising.”
     But, it is more serious than the words “popular uprising” implies. The English word “sedition” means incitement to rebellion, agitation, treason, subversion, rabble-rousing and troublemaking. These are serious charges that Shaul is describing here, and I’m convinced that Shaul is not railing against people who are trying to undue his “Assemblies.” He is concerned, here, about those who are rebelling against Yahweh, His Laws, and His Anointed, Yahshua the Messiah. He stands against those who incite riot against the Word of Yahweh.

     “Heresies” is the Greek word, hairesis, meaning a choice, especially a party or disunion. It also means “sect” and to take for one-self, to prefer or to choose.
     Don’t we want choices in our lives? Isn’t it “empowering” to be able to choose? Yes, in a worldly sense. But, does Yahweh offer us the opportunity to choose our OWN truths? He forbids it. He does offer choice, though. “It’s either My way, or the highway to destruction.”
     See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and Yahweh your Elohim will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other [mighty ones] and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yahweh your Elohim, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them, Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NKJV.

     “Envy” is the Greek word, phthonos, meaning ill-will, jealousy and spite. It comes from a word meaning to shrivel, wither, spoil and ruin by moral influences (The term, moral, doesn’t mean “good,” it must mean “by influencing one’s morals.”). It means to deprave, corrupt, defile and destroy.
     So, the English word, “envy,” in no way elicits the depth of meaning Shaul is trying to convey here. He is clearly identifying behavior which makes good into evil and evil into good.
     Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV).

     “Murders” is the Greek word, phonos, meaning to slay or murder. In this particular verse, it is omitted from some of the Greek manuscripts. Apparently, there is no figurative use of this word; it simply means to kill someone with malice aforethought.

     “Drunkenness” is the Greek word, methe, meaning intoxication, with no other figurative uses in the New Testament. It’s interesting that “Meth” is a current slang word for Methamphetamines, an extremely abused substance in these days and times.

     “Revelries” is the Greek, word komos, meaning carousal, as if letting loose; or rioting. It comes from a word meaning to lie outstretched. The English definition of “carousal” is “a noisy or drunken feast or social gathering.”

     Now, if I may summarize Shaul’s description of the “Works of the Flesh” which preclude one’s entry into the Kingdom of Yahweh. They include:
1. Adultery - Abandoning the worship of Yahweh to follow a more pleasurable, less strife-filled form of worship;
2. Fornication - Devoting our lives to something more so than we dedicate our lives to Yahweh;
3. Uncleanness - Being demonically unpruned – like a wild thornbush, unapologetic and un-recompensing;
4. Lewdness - Unrestrained licentiousness, immorality and shamelessness;
5. Idolatry - Rendering religious homage or service to an image, idea or an idol [including a person];
6. Sorcery - Submitting to acts of deception, like magic, Tarot card
reading, palm reading, astrology, channelling or illicit drugs for the purpose of creating false hope, false power, false significance, false satisfaction and false courage – all of which are tools of the Devil which he uses to poison our minds as well as our bodies;
7. Hatred - Being hostile, resentful, bitter, vengeful, adversarial or just plain odious, that is, abhorrent, loathsome, revolting, detestable, repulsive or obnoxious;
8. Contentions - Quarrelling or wrangling;
9. Jealousies - Being both jealous to kill and zealous to protect what one “owns”;
10. Outbursts of Wrath - Out of anger, abandoning or sacrificing close relationships in order to accomplish one’s own purposes;
11. Selfish Ambitions - Conspiring to steal, lie and condemn in order to create factions or cliques, and plotting to divide a congregation by provoking members to anger;
12. Dissensions - Inciting believers to subvert Yahweh’s Laws and to rebel against His Messiah, Yahshua;
13. Heresies - Taking for oneself, preferring or choosing that which is pleasing to the individual;
14. Envy - Spoiling and ruining others’ morals through depravity, corruption, defilement and destruction;
15. Murders - Killing with malice aforethought;
16. Drunkenness - Drinking and substance abuse; and
17. Revelries - Carousing in noisy, drunken social gatherings, or to use a modern term, “partying.”

     We have examined the harsh spiritual nature of the “Works of the Flesh” as Shaul describes in verses 19 through 21 of the Book of Galatians chapter 5.
     Let us now turn our attention to the Set-apart spiritual nature of the Fruit of the Spirit.


Fruit of the Spirit
     But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are the Messiah’s have impaled the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another, Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV.
     Let us look at these attributers of the Fruit of the Spirit.

     “Love” is the Greek word, agape, meaning love; that is, affection or benevolence; especially in the plural form, agapais. It is translated as “love-feast” or a feast of charity elsewhere in the New Testament. It compares to the Hebrew word, `agab, a primitive root meaning to breathe after.
     “To breathe after.” The image comes immediately of Yahweh speaking or breathing the universe into existence. For what purpose has He done this?
     Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Master, Yahshua the Messiah, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in the Messiah, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as children through Yahshua the Messiah to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in the Messiah, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose Who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in the Messiah would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the [evangel, good news or glad tidings] of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of Yahweh's own possession, to the praise of His glory, Ephesians 1:3-14 NASU.
     Yahweh’s purpose in the creation of the universe is FAMILY. His intention is to bring together those whom He has set apart to be His children, to pass on an inheritance of love. He is in the process of bringing Heaven and Earth together. Those who love and worship Him as Creator, Father and King – and who in turn create, parent and lead with justice and mercy, as personified in our Master, Yahshua, – will be His children indeed. Love, agape, is more than giving material needs to the widows and orphans. Love is to breathe life into others, through creating relationship – creating family and all that that implies. To love means to act in such a way that others feel safe & secure to “be themselves” with us, to feel personally and corporately empowered as members and as the body of the Messiah, to feel connected and intimate, satisfied and filled with joy, encouraged and hopeful, innocent and worthy of the relationship. Aren’t these the emotions that are set in motion in our relationship with the Father?
     What constitutes evidence that the Set-apart Spirit of Yahweh is producing fruit within one of His Chosen? I submit for your consideration that, in the spirit of humility, if you can say that you experience the same feelings mentioned above toward a fellow Believer that you feel toward Yahweh and Yahshua, then you are witnessing the Spirit of Yahweh at work. Contrarily, to the extent that someone’s actions are designed to create within others feelings of shame, disconnectedness, fear, powerlessness, or guilt, they are devoid of the Set-apart Spirit of Yahweh. May Yahweh, however, bless us to respond to others so that they may easily believe that they are worthy of our affection; that even when they make mistakes they are still loved; that they are important to us in spite of the distance that separates us; that they can trust in our commitments to them and that they know we will not act to harm them. This is what Shaul means when he uses the word “Love” as the first indicator of the “Fruit of the Spirit.”

“Joy” is the Greek word, chara, meaning cheerfulness; that is, calm delight or gladness, calmly happy or well-off. Used as a salutation on meeting or parting, chara means “be well,” as in “Farewell,” “Be glad.” It is also translated, “Rejoice!”
     And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Yahshua met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him, Matthew 28:9 NKJV.
     “Rejoice” is the Greek word, “chairete.”
     Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Sovereign, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven," Luke 10:17-20 NKJV.
     So, “joy” is that aspect of our being that is confident in our calling as “Children of the King.” It is the security of knowing that we are powerful over the works of Satan. As a way of envisioning this joy, can you imagine being raised as a child of an earthly king? In spite of the presumed temptations and pressures this particular calling might present, if done properly, we would receive instruction, guidance and discipline to ensure our ability to act appropriately in any situation, to provide clear answers to any question, and to develop the character to attract the willing support of those to whom we are responsible. Tremendous power, on the one hand, and incredible responsibility, on the other, would require a well-balanced application of wisdom. We would eventually be given the charge of protecting the weak and defeating our enemy. And, we would have the power and the means to accomplish this. This is the “Joy” that Shaul is referring to as the second Fruit of the Spirit.

     “Peace” is the Greek word, eirene (i-ray'-nay), and means to join, to create peace and prosperity. It is translated as “one,” as in “unity,” quietness, rest and “set at one again.” The wisdom of the word “peace” speaks to me in much the same way that the word “Sabbath” speaks to me. However, Shaul is not using this word to describe a day, but a personality trait within an individual called by Elohim. A person having this “Fruit of the Spirit” evokes a sense of unity, togetherness and a lack of anxiety; and when we are with such an individual, we feel that sense of calmness and belonging within ourselves that is possible only through the Spirit of Yahweh.
     May I suggest that when two righteous men acted to preserve the work with which Yahweh had charged them, by setting apart three trusted men in order to bring unity to the body of the Messiah, they did so out of Love, Joy and Peace, the first three characteristics Shaul describes as the “Fruit of the Spirit.” They sought to breathe life into the congregation and to keep it from withering on the vine. They did so with the Power given to them, not by the power of an earthly government, but by the Power received from Yahweh Himself. And, they did so to “Set as One Again.” They are Children of the King, and as such, they are obeying their Father and Sovereign. And, in spite of any tribulation that may befall them, the King shall provide for them and protect them – as well as the outcome of their efforts. They are doing so in Peace, the third character demonstrating “Fruit of the Spirit.”

     “Longsuffering” is the Greek word, makrothumia, which means forbearance with fortitude and patience, with a long, enduring temper. It means leniency. The thumos part of the word means passion (as if breathing hard). Does that sound familiar? Ironically, it is the Greek word used by Shaul for “Outbursts of Wrath” in describing one of the “Works of the Flesh.” In other words, longsuffering describes a passionate being with a long fuse on his outbursts of wrath. It takes a lot of provocation to get this person to “explode.” In the words of the Scripture, “fierceness, indignation and wrath” are rarely seen in this individual.
     Interestingly, the concept of longsuffering seems not to exclude the reality that, at some point in time, one’s wrath may be legitimately expressed. We all know that, someday, Yahweh will express His fierce anger, with vengeance upon the wickedness of this world and against those who stand in opposition to His will. He will, someday, destroy all evil. If He were not willing to wait for us and extend His patience toward us, we would not be saved or redeemed.
     But the day of Yahweh will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and righteousness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of Elohim, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Sovereign is salvation, 2 Peter 3:10-15.
     I have to say, here, that I am struck with the sense that having the “Fruit of the Spirit” includes a work of the flesh, albeit conditionally. Notice that the Word does not say, “Never, ever have an outburst of wrath!” Does it not say, (and I’m paraphrasing here, of course) “Wait ... until the right moment ... then let ‘em have it?” Presumably, someone with the “Fruit of the Spirit” would be willing to wait long enough for the object of their anger to “see the Light” and come to their senses. And, as a caution to us, Yahweh has made known to us another truth, in many places in Scripture, “As you do unto others, so shall it be done unto you.” This is a sobering thought. Imagine how much Yahweh will have to forbear as we stand before Him, to allow us into His Kingdom! That amount ... do unto others.

     “Kindness” is the Greek word, chrestotes, from another Greek word meaning gracious, usefulness, moral excellence in character or demeanor, gentleness, or goodness. It has roots in a Greek word meaning employed and another word meaning to furnish what is needed, especially, by Hebraism, to “lend a hand.”
     Kindness is more than just kind words and encouragement. It is primarily the voluntary hard work of assisting others or providing for the Assembly of Believers the necessary means by which Yahweh’s will is manifested. I love that this word is used to convey the Hebraic concept of “lending a hand.” It stems from two ideas of hollowness for grasping and the hand, in a literal or figurative sense, power. We see this word in the Scripture, not only in reference to our lending of a hand to others, but of Yahweh lending a hand to us.
     (With the Hebraism of the word chrestotes):
     Therefore consider the [lending of the hand] and [the] severity of Yahweh: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, [the lending of the hand], if you continue in His [lending of the hand]. Otherwise you also will be cut off, Romans 11:22.

     “Goodness” is the Greek word, agathosune, from a Greek word meaning goodness, that is, virtue or beneficence. Synonyms for virtue include the concepts of righteousness, integrity, honesty, morality and uprightness. Synonyms for beneficence include the concepts of profit, help and assistance.
     As I attempted to imagine a person with agathosune, I became aware of the feelings I would experience in response to such an individual. They include the feelings of trust, safety, empowerment, hope and connectedness. Trust, because I can see in him the words of the Scriptures. Safety, because I can know that whatever he says to me will be honest – and, if there is any finger-pointing going on, he will be pointing to himself. Empowerment, because, if I need something, he will be willing to provide. Hope, because his uprightness will express the surety of the blessings which are to come. And connectedness, knowing that I will be listened to. Goodness, after all is said and done, describes someone who is willing to meet us face-to-face.

     “Faithfulness” is the Greek word, pistis, from another Greek word meaning persuasion. This describes an individual who gives credence or has moral conviction of the truthfulness of Yahweh, and who especially relies upon Yahshua for salvation. It refers to the constancy of one’s profession of belief, through word and deed, in which he lends assurance to others through his fidelity.
     One can imagine how easy it might be to develop a strong conviction of the Truth in the presence of such an individual. Being witness to the conviction of another is convincing, lending itself to conciliation by fairness, assenting to evidence or authority, relying upon our Savior and leading to obedience to the Word of Yahweh out of inward confidence. We are called to be persuasive through our good works. They will know that we are disciples of Yahshua through our active love toward others.

     “Gentleness” is the Greek word, prautes, meaning mildness, humility or meekness.
     In looking at the three words that the Concordance offers to describe this concept, two of them, mildness and meekness, suggest behaviors, while humility suggests attitude or character. Humility is a concept that I’ve come to realize, in my work with severely mentally ill individuals, is severely lacking in those most suffering in that state of mind. That is not to say that those of us outside of the confines of a prison for the criminally insane struggle any less with this issue. It’s just that it seems more obvious in this concentrated community. Those individuals who, in a moment of realization, see what they’ve done to others – and in response, experience the shame, guilt, fear, powerlessness and humiliation for what they’ve done – these are the ones who eventually recover from their illnesses. These are the ones who are, in a sense, broken upon the rock of salvation. The bold, the unrepentant, the grandiose, the self-centered, the oppositional and the violent do not see the rock that will pulverize them. They are blind to this reality. But, even in all that, we may yet have hope for these people, for we know that Yahweh is longsuffering toward those who are downtrodden, abused, rejected, abandoned and cut off from familial love. It may be that those who are seen as castaways and the dregs of society are the very ones on whom Yahweh will have the most compassion. It can only be through humility that we can see the full extent of Yahweh’s love for us.

     “Self-control”– is the Greek word, egkrateia, meaning temperance, strong or masterful, a fixed position in place, time or state, and at rest. It can mean vigor or great dominion, might, power and strength.
     The picture in my mind for this word is a rock. Its strength is in its ability to remain, to endure and to withstand. It must encapsulate the idea of the type of rock that is quarried to make the pillars of a huge building. How fitting! That those who endure to the end are likened to pillars in the temple of Yahweh.
     He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My Elohim, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My Elohim and the name of the city of My Elohim, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My Elohim. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the called-out ones, Revelation 3:12-13.
     That is also why Yahweh is described as our Rock of Salvation, through His Anointed Son, Yahshua.
     He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Anointed, the Son of the living Elohim." Yahshua answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Shimon Bar-Yonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Kepha, and on this ROCK I will build My assembly, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven," Matthew 16:15-19.
     May our feet be found Standing on the Rock!

-Elder John Fisher

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