So we’ve been talking about how Patience-kindness-goodness are tied together in the same way that Love-joy-peace are intertwined, and all springing from the Holy Spirit connecting us to the vital life of Christ. This is the lifestyle appropriate to God’s adopted children who have experienced grace and forgiveness firsthand. More than that, we are called to it, as a ministry and a life’s work, to imitate Christ and so draw others into the kingdom. Paul says it this way: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!'” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)
If Patience is what enables us to bear with others’ brokenness and hold back our natural reactive responses, then Kindness has enough compassion to try to understand them and want what is best for them….and Goodness? Well, it puts all that into action and does what is best for them, and lest we slide into thinking of Goodness as some bland shallow sweetness that is irrelevant to everyday life, let’s remember that Goodness is defined and expressed by the broken bloody body of a man dying, unjustly tortured and executed for the wrong-doing of others. Goodness is fierce and tangible and wildly unexpected in the way it enters into the reality of the everyday. All three take superhuman strength to produce with any consistency.
So these three intertwined qualities are the people-skills the Holy Spirit produces in us, as we learn to abide in Him, the qualities of God’s own nature working out in our lives. It is what helps us to endure living here among difficult people. It is what this ministry of reconciliation will require. It is the “So what?” of Grace. And here we have the overflowing thankfulness for what Christ has done for us popping out again, but this time in practical outworking toward difficult people; praise for who He is that expresses itself in hands and feet and lives to serve as He did.
The deeper we go into this study of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (the results of His presence abiding in us) the more there is to learn….but let us keep taking it one step at a time, beginning with thankfulness and continuing on to praise…and doing whatever He puts in front of us in dependence on His Spirit, applying grace to the rough ragged edges of Today.
“You are good You are good
When there’s nothing good in me
You are love You are love
On display for all to see
You are light You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope You are hope
You have covered all my sin.”
(Forever Reign, Hillsong)
“Gratitude is the demanding question mark in the grammar of your life – otherwise your life needs editing… ‘So you are grateful and — ?? What are you going to do?… How now will you live?’” (Ann Voskamp)