A Fruit A Day…The Practice of Self-Control

Welcome back! Over the past few weeks, we have been studying the virtues of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. Today, we are going to tackle the final virtue in the series which is self-control.

Merriam Webster Definition and Synonyms of Self-Control

  • Definition:  restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires
  • Synonyms: self-command, self-containment, self-discipline, self-government, willpower

Greek word for Self-Control

The ancient Greek word for self-control is egkrateiaThis has the connotation of self-mastery and self-restraint.

Favorite Verses on Self-Control

  • He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Prov. 21:23
  • He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Prov. 16:32

Final thoughts on Self-Control

Self-control is possibly one of the hardest virtues to put into practice because it requires so much discipline and willpower. Our emotions and desires can be so strong and it can be difficult to rein them in. Self-control relates to all of the other virtues because in exercising self-control, we are able to demonstrate love in the face of hate, joy in the face of sadness, forbearance in the face of suffering, kindness in the face of cruelty, goodness in the face of spite, faithfulness in the face of struggles or hurt, and gentleness in the face of anger. Self-control does not mean inhibiting ourselves to the point of being unnatural, unhealthy or fake. We are by nature emotional beings. But in exercising self-restraint, the aim is to eliminate negative habits while fostering positive ones. This covers many aspects of our lives from how we interact with others to the foods we choose to eat to the activities we choose to engage in. All require a certain aspect of commitment and discipline.

We have now come to the end of our study on the Fruit of the Spirit. I hope you have enjoyed studying these virtues over the past few weeks. I personally feel that I have grown from the experience and although I often fall short in these virtues, it is something I am aiming to put into practice as much as I possibly can!

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control“. Galatians 5:22-23

Image courtesy of perfectinsider.com

Image courtesy of perfectinsider.com

A Fruit A Day…Is Being Meek a Weakness?

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength“-Saint Francis de Sales

Welcome back! Over the past few weeks, we have studied in detail the virtues of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness and faithfulness.Today, we are going to tackle the virtue of gentleness.

Merriam Webster Definition and Synonyms of Gentle

  • Definition: mildness of manners or disposition
  • Synonyms: nonabrasive, soothing, tender
  • Related words: calm, peaceful, placid, quiet, serene, tranquil, compassionate, lenient, merciful

Greek word for Gentleness

The ancient Greek word for gentleness is prautés. It is related to the concepts of meekness and humility.

Favorite Verses on Gentleness

  • “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people”. Titus 3:2
  • “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” Ephesians 4:2

Final thoughts on Gentleness

I used to be skeptical about the concept of meekness because I felt it implied becoming a doormat, being passive or weak. But this is not the case. Being gentle or meek is not a weakness but in fact a sign of implicit strength. Jesus in his gentleness and compassion towards others still conveyed a strong sense of power, authority and passion. It is true that gentleness is somewhat dependent on personality but I wonder if it’s something we can learn to do in the spirit of being respectful towards others.

I think gentleness can be applied in many situations such as comforting someone in their sorrow, correcting someone in a firm yet non-judgmental manner or forgiving someone for a past hurt. Being gentle does not equate to being weak nor does it necessarily mean we are always quiet in our mannerisms. To me, it is an act of humility where we are willing to listen to the opinions of others and to be tolerant of others, yet at the same time being brave enough to speak out in a respectful manner when needed.

Image courtesy of wallpaperskyline.com

Image courtesy of wallpaperskyline.com

A Fruit a Day…Being Faithful

Over the past few weeks, we have walked through a selection of virtues from one of my favorites verses. Today, we are going to tackle the virtue of faithfulness.

Image courtesy of adamr@freedigitalphoto.net

Image courtesy of adamr@freedigitalphoto.net

Merriam Webster Definitions and Synonyms of Faithful

  • having or showing true and constant support or loyalty
  • firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty
  • steadfast in affection or allegiance
  • constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, loyal, steadfast

Greek and Hebrew words for Faithfulness

The ancient Greek word for faithfulness is pistis In the context in which it was used by Paul in Galatians 5:22, the meaning of faithfulness connoted reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. Pistis can also refer to faith (as in a doctrine or religious belief) and God’s faithfulness towards us. The Hebrew word for faithfulness is bittachon which connotes a sense of trust, safety and security.

Favorite Verses on Faithfulness

  • Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, extend to the skies, and Your faithfulness to the clouds”. Psalm 36: 5
  • Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart“. Proverbs 3:3

Final thoughts on Faithfulness

I really enjoyed researching the concept of faithfulness because it encompasses such a vast entity of human relationships as well as our relationship with God. What I learned from studying this topic is that God’s faithfulness towards us (as demonstrated by his compassion, mercy, forgiveness, blessings, love and grace) is something to be emulated by us in our interactions with other people. There are so many ways to demonstrate faithfulness through our loyalty, integrity, trustworthiness, reliability and dependability.

I also think of faithfulness as an enduring quality that gives a sense of commitment over the long-term despite the circumstances. When I think of a faithful friend or family member, I think of someone who has been there for me through my ups and downs and who has not given up on me even in my weak moments. I thank God for these people and for His enduring faithfulness to me even when I did not deserve it!

A Fruit a Day…An Attitude of Joy

Welcome back to our study on the fruits of the Spirit! We started off looking at love and how this can be applied in daily life. Now we are on to the next fruit: JOY!

Here is my favorite definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  • a source or cause of delight: What gives you delight? For me, it’s the people in my life, God, hobbies, science, music, reading, learning, and many more! Remembering those things that give us delight can be a good way to mitigate the difficult moments. Am I feeling discouraged? Call a good friend and spend some time together. Am I feeling depressed? Get out of the house and do something active that I enjoy.

Now I have to admit that initially when I sifted through my Bible, not all the verses I found on joy had me doing cartwheels. Many verses had references to “trials” and “perseverance”. But what about being happy?  Inspired by my husband who has studied ancient Greek, I decided to look up the original Greek word for joy which is “chara“. Rather than an expression of mere happiness, it alludes more to a sense of appreciative gladness.

So, it seems that joy is more of an attitude than just a state of being. Being joyful or rejoicing is choosing to give thanks and be grateful even in the face of difficult circumstances. It doesn’t mean we pretend that nothing is wrong or that we do not need support. It means we are choosing to believe that something good will come out of it and that even now in those challenging moments, there is still something to be grateful for. Very much easier said than done of course but I’m hoping to come back and read this whenever I’m having trouble being joyful!

Here are some of my favorite verses on the topic of joy:

  • sorrowful yet always rejoicing…having nothing and yet possessing everything” 2 Corinthians 6:10. This was in the context of the hardships Paul was going through as he was being persecuted for his faith. I think this translates well to other situations in life. We may be going through tough times, we may not have much, but yet we are rejoicing. This does not mean that I always have a smile plastered on my face, but internally, I know God is in control of every situation even when it doesn’t feel like it.
  • Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete…” James 1:2-4. In the past, this was one of those verses that I tended to scout over and try to ignore because I didn’t like the idea of being “tested”. But I have had great role models in my life who have been amazingly strong through the most adverse situations and they have quoted this verse to me often. It reminds me of the verse on being refined by fire and surely life does refine us.
  • I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely” Psalm 16:9. I love the simplicity of this verse. It exudes an assurance of security in Christ and this in itself is a reason to be joyful!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Galations 5:22-23.

One of those 'joyful' moments. My husband and I petting a cheetah in Kenya.

One of those ‘joyful’ moments. My husband and I petting a cheetah in Kenya. The cheetah happily purred as loudly as a cat!

A Fruit a Day Keeps the Doctor Away…Let’s Start with Love

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I remember hearing this often when I was growing up.  At the time, it didn’t really convince me to eat more fruits and vegetables but now that I’m older, I have come to appreciate the benefits of eating healthily. This gets me thinking not only about my physical health but also my mental and spiritual health. Healthy food and physical exercise are good for our bodies. What sorts of things are good for our mind and soul?

I leafed through my Bible and came across this familiar verse on “Fruits of the Spirit”. To me, these are virtues that keep me spiritually healthy, partly because they require some action on my part. They are not just a state of mind but something that I can consciously decide to do.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Galations 5:22-23.

I decided to take a look at some of the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of these words and compare them to how I feel they can be applied to daily life. I will tackle this over a series of posts just so we can take a detailed look at these words. Let’s start with love.

Love

There are so many forms and definitions of love but the ones I like in particular are these two: “strong affection for another; unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. I like these two definitions because they acknowledge that love has a component of “feeling” and emotion as well as a conscious decision to care about someone else solely for their good. Therefore I choose to behave in such a way as to bring out the best in them. In the Bible, Jesus spoke of loving our “neighbor”. When asked “but who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29, Jesus went on to talk about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A selfless individual who decided to help a battered and bruised stranger at the side of the road, who had been brutally attacked by robbers.

When I was growing up, we passed by beggars in the street as quickly as possible. They were considered unsafe, it made us uncomfortable and we just didn’t really know how to respond. When I think about those moments, I really cringe at myself. How thoughtless and selfish of me! Jesus’ words to love our neighbor challenges me to find ways to help those who are hurting and suffering. This is one of the reasons I am passionate about pursuing a career in medicine. Just the idea of being able to heal someone’s diseases, offer them counsel, and alleviate their worries really gets me excited. One of my friends who is a first-time mom often calls me with motherhood questions (“White noise or no white noise? or “My baby is breastfeeding around the clock…help!”) I absolutely love these conversations because I can draw from my own experiences and alleviate some of her concerns. 

There is so much that can be said about the concept of love but what I have learned from my interactions with people and from observing my friends and family is that love in its truest sense is selfless and unconditional. The “feeling” of love may come and go. There are times when our significant others, children, brothers, sisters, parents may annoy us, make us angry, make us want to give up on them. Yet, we decide to still love them. We may see someone suffering who is perhaps not from our culture, not in our income bracket, who has differing opinions, or who we may not be able to relate to. Yet, we decide to still love them. Love is a powerful thing. Love erases fear, love erases prejudice, love erases judgement. The Bible itself said the greatest gift of all is love.

Image courtesy of maya picture at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of maya picture at freedigitalphotos.net