Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Three Virtues to Pursue in the New Year

First off, thanks to Bible Gateway for all the translations they offer people like me. I couldn't do what I do without their help. Appreciate you!

So today was my day for working through the fruit of the Spirit -- not all of them, just the three Greek words you see below. 

I think I'm going with "forbearance" (instead of "patience"), "kindness," and "goodness." Agree? 

But what do these have to do with agapÄ“? We might say that they are the concrete attitudes and actions of self-giving love ("self-giving love" is my rendering of agapÄ“). Forbearance is a negative quality. It's the idea of "bearing up under aggravating and demanding people or circumstances." I'm thinking of the guy at the gym who never reracks his weights, or the lady at Bojangles whose incessant gossiping drives me crazy. 

If "forbearance" says it negatively, "kindness" and "goodness" say it positively. Kindness is wishing good; goodness is doing good. We're not just to bear up with people negatively. We think good thoughts about them and do good deeds for them. Elsewhere Paul can write, "Love is patient, love is kind." He can also say, "Through love serve one another." Listen, it's no use saying you love people unless you exercise forbearance, kindness, and goodness toward them. Take that guy in the gym who breaks all the rules of etiquette. How can I be longsuffering, kind, and good toward him in concrete ways? This is the level of love for which Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1) and to which we were "called" at the moment of our conversion (Gal. 5:13). To love others in this way is a very great ministry. It is something every believer can and must do. But do we? 

I'll leave you with that conundrum. Fact is, it's much easier to write what I just wrote than practice what I just preached. I think the place to start is with inviting the Holy Spirit to fill us afresh every morning before we get out of bed. For me, it just starts my day off right. There is real life to deal with and real people who could use a bit of forbearance, kindness, and goodness. I don't want to be so focused on studying the Bible that I don't practice what I'm learning. 

You? How's it going in 2023 practicing these three virtues?