Walking in Good Behavior
“Let us walk in good behavior.”—Rom. 13:13, NW.
1. Wherein do we find the source and the channel of the spirit’s fruitage” How should an appreciation of this affect us?
WHAT has been discussed so far respecting the spirit’s fruitage in general, and concerning love in particular, also applies to the other things mentioned. In each instance these other qualities are first seen to inhere in Jehovah in superlative excellence. They are also seen in his beloved Son, Christ Jesus, in full perfection. And as, through an accurate knowledge of the truth, we see what a marvelous demonstration of these qualities has been given by Jehovah in all of his dealings, so we come to admire them and in every instance want to “become imitators of God, as beloved children, and go on walking” in them, manifesting them in our dealings, too, with all with whom we come in contact. As Paul said at the end of his letter to the Galatians: “As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.”—Eph. 5:1, 2; Gal. 6:10, NW.
2. Why is love mentioned first in the list at Galatians 5:22, 23?
2 Let us, then, take a brief look at these other qualities, all comprising the fruitage of the spirit. There is no question, however, that “the greatest of these is love.” It is the all-essential mainspring, without which the others cannot genuinely exist or operate. We shall consider them as listed by the apostle, though they do not appear to follow any particular sequence, for they are mentioned time and again in varying order throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures.—1 Cor. 13:1-3, 13, NW.
3. What authority or reason is given for the close connection between joy and God’s organization?
3 Joy is first mentioned after love, and where are we going to find joy today and how are we going to find the best opportunity of bearing this fruit? There is only the one answer, and that is, in Jehovah’s organization, Zion, wherein his own loving heart finds joyful satisfaction. Does not the prophecy of Zephaniah call upon those in Zion to “be glad and rejoice with all the heart,” and then go on to tell how even Jehovah himself “will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing”? (Zeph. 3:14, 17, AS) As specific evidence in support of this, many thousands of our readers will readily recall the tremendous and sustained joy and happiness that was experienced during the eight days of that great international gathering at Yankee Stadium in 1953. Literally, for those eight days, that was the best place on earth to experience real joy, and the same is true in principle of all special assemblies of Jehovah’s people.
4, 5. What was the joy set before Jesus, and in what practical ways can we share therein?
4 We know, too, that Christ Jesus has entered into “the joy that was set before him” in being made the chosen instrument, as King, to bring to full fruition his heavenly Father’s glorious purpose and the complete vindication of his Father’s name. In this happy work all the Lord’s true followers are invited to share. Indeed, that is why it is God’s “good pleasure” “to gather all things together again in the Christ” and in the organization under him, in order “that we should serve for the praise of his glory.” Let us therefore be faithful in the service of whatever Kingdom interests have been committed into our hands so that we may have the thrill of hearing and responding to that invitation: “Enter into the joy of your master.” And what greater joy is to be found than in seeking and finding and then feeding one of the Lord’s “other sheep”?—Heb. 12:2; Eph. 1:9-12; Matt. 25:21, NW.
5 Speaking personally, have you not known what it is sometimes for some trial or difficult condition to get on top of you so that you feel that life is pretty grim, and then you go to a meeting where you can share with your brothers in the fellowship of Kingdom truths and Kingdom service, or perhaps have a look at The Watchtower that has just come? You know the effect it has, as if a burden were lifted from your mind. It takes you out of yourself (which is a splendid thing), and perhaps gives you a new outlook on how to meet your problem. In other words, as explained in our previous study, you have taken advantage of the provisions made through the organization, resulting in Jehovah’s spirit’s operating afresh in your heart and mind, along with its fruitage of joy.
6. How is the importance of peace stressed in Scripture? Involving what?
6 Next in the list comes peace. And what can be said about that? A great deal, of course, but if we were to use an illustration of a huntsman first seeking out his prey and then going after it in hot pursuit, it would certainly not appear to be a picture of peace, would it? Yet listen to what David wrote at Psalm 34:14: “Seek peace, and pursue it.” Does that mean that peace is an elusive bird, like the “dove of peace” is to the nations today? No. It is the importance of peace that is the thing stressed. First, we must gain peaceful relations with God, through Jesus Christ, and with his family of devoted people. Then we must see the necessity of pursuing and maintaining that peace, praying for it and always working to that end, as David said in another psalm: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. For the sake of the house of Jehovah our God [the center of pure worship] I will seek thy good.” (Ps. 122:6, 8, 9, AS) This may mean, on your part, sacrificing something, perhaps some relationship into which you have entered, that is quite legitimate in your own eyes but that you know very well is only causing uneasiness and talk among your brothers, to say nothing of providing a source of gossip among those not in the truth. It is ever a safe guide to put the interests of God’s community above personal interests.
7. How is Jesus fulfilling his promise at John 14:27 today?
7 Ordinarily, people seek peace by trying to create and live under conditions that are literally peaceful. Their realization of peace depends largely on their physical surroundings, and is for the most part an emotional experience. That is the only way the world can provide this valued treasure. But Jesus said, when with his disciples in the upper room: “I give you my peace. I do not give it to you the way that the world gives it.” (John 14:27, NW) In these days of his second presence with his disciples he is fulfilling that promise by delivering us from the authority of this discordant world and transplanting us into his own land, his own theocratic domain, where, as King, he reigns in righteousness at the heavenly capital, New Jerusalem. From there, by God’s all-powerful spirit, he is directing his people on earth in a grand work of righteousness, the effect of which spells “quietness and confidence” to those engaged therein. Under that spirit of peace that controls and guards our hearts and mental powers we truly “abide in a peaceable habitation, and in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.” What a glorious and serene fruitage of the spirit!—Isa. 32:1, 17, 18, AS; Phil. 4:7; Col. 1:13; 3:15. See also September 15, 1953, Watchtower, pp. 566, 567, paragraphs 3-6.
8, 9. What examples are given of long-suffering, and how should we be influenced thereby?
8 Now let us consider the next quality, long-suffering. Here, again, we see a grand quality that shines out in God’s own dealings, for he has “tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction, in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, . . . namely, us.” Paul cites his own case, too, as an outstanding example of long-suffering demonstrated by Christ on Paul’s behalf, in view of his previous bad course of action, and that for the encouragement of others who were going to “rest their faith” on the Lord. (Rom. 9:22-24; 1 Tim. 1:16, NW) Surely with such inspiring examples before us, we should see the need for ourselves to be ever ready to show this same quality whenever required. This does not mean that we should endlessly put up with wrongdoing in an individual, or in a congregation, but whenever there is a sincere plea for mercy, or whenever ignorance can be taken into account, as with those not in the truth, then we should not withhold this divine quality.
9 The opposite of long-suffering is short-suffering. Do you very quickly become short with your brothers, ready to snap their heads off in a spirit of irritation and impatience? That is not the fruitage of God’s spirit. At the same time, that does not mean that a sharp word is never necessary; but, if it is a matter of letting off steam, then it would be better to sit tight on the lid a little longer.
10. What is kindness? What constitutes its particular appeal?
10 We now turn our attention to a quality that has particular appeal, namely, kindness. How shall we define it, and how is it used in Scripture? Kindness means to be disposed to do good, to confer happiness, to be benevolent, sympathetic, merciful and obliging. It is a spontaneous expression of love, and is often closely linked with love in Scripture, as found in the expression “loving-kindness.” Another point worthy of note is that Jehovah’s kindness toward us is always undeserved as far as we are concerned.—Gen. 20:13; 1 Cor. 13:4; Heb. 4:16, NW.
11, 12. (a) The exhibition of God’s kindness teaches us what? (b) What does John say of Jesus in this regard?
11 Following the same procedure as previously adopted, we learn that kindness finds its source in Jehovah, the Most High. When Jesus was giving instruction respecting this he stressed the point that it was not just a matter of being kind toward those who appreciate and reciprocate your kindness. “To the contrary,” said Jesus, “continue to love your enemies and to do good and to lend without interest, not hoping for anything back, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked. Continue becoming compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:35, 36, NW; Matt. 5:43-48) Let this lesson sink deep within us, especially when taking the Kingdom message to the people, for then is our golden opportunity to manifest this fruitage for the benefit and refreshment of others. When we come up against continued indifference, or opposition, and people are sharp with us, it is a temptation to talk back with equal sharpness and acerbity. But ripe fruit does not have that flavor.
12 Next, we learn that Christ Jesus is the one specially chosen to explain and exemplify in full measure his heavenly Father’s undeserved kindness. As John beautifully expressed it: “The Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father, and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth.” Yes, the one “who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has explained him.”—John 1:14, 18, NW.
13. How are we taught to bear this fruitage of the spirit?
13 To complete the picture, Christ Jesus, the only one who “fully knows the Father,” is “willing to reveal him” to those who accept the Son and who exercise faith in his name. These find great relief on entering into the Master’s service as his disciples, because, as he himself said: “My yoke is kindly and my load is light.” There is every reason, therefore, why we should respond readily and heartily to the apostle’s appeal: “Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.”—Matt. 11:27-30; Eph. 4:32, NW; John 1:12.
14, 15. Who is the Author of goodness, and what revelation was given to Moses in this regard?
14 In order to learn what goodness is, and what our part in bearing this fruitage is, we must, as before, go to the Author thereof. No, Jesus is not the one, and that he made very plain in what he said to the certain man who gave him the title, “Good Teacher.” This does not mean that Jesus did not faithfully and perfectly exemplify goodness; else he would not have invited that man to become one of his followers.—Mark 10:17, 18, 21, NW.
15 We first get a clear appreciation of what goodness is, as seen in Jehovah, when we consider that wonderful and intimate revelation that he gave of himself to Moses. You will recall that Moses enjoyed a unique relationship with Jehovah, perhaps closer than any other man on earth, except Jesus, for the Record says that “Jehovah spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man would speak to his fellow.” On one occasion Moses requested of Jehovah: “Cause me to see, please, your glory.” Jehovah answered: “I myself shall cause all my beauty [margin, goodness] to pass before your face and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you.” All of Jehovah’s goodness is summed up in that grand declaration of his name which shortly followed, in these words: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning iniquity and transgression and sin.”—Ex. 33:11, 18, 19; 34:6, 7, NW.
16. What does James teach respecting goodness, and with what obligation concerning ourselves?
16 James, in his epistle, points to the same source of all goodness when he says: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights, . . . Because he willed it, he brought us forth by the word of truth, for us to be a certain firstfruits of his creatures.” This shows, too, how we are brought into close relationship with Jehovah, and it surely follows that those “certain firstfruits,” with all their good-will companions, must bear like fruitage to the One who brought them forth, and thus demonstrate the principle to be true that “he that does good originates with God.”—Jas. 1:17, 18; 3 John 11, NW. See also 1 Peter 3:8-11, NW.
17. In what way is faith a primary foundation?
17 The fact that faith comes seventh in the list at Galatians 5:22, 23 seems in itself to indicate that no special order was chosen by the apostle, for faith is a Christian’s primary foundation. (Heb. 11:6; 2 Pet. 1:5) Yes, we must have abounding faith in God, also in all those things in which we know that God himself has absolute confidence, namely, his Son, his Word, his purpose and his Kingdom-organization, Zion.
18, 19. Faith as part of the spirit’s fruitage calls for what particular kind of works?
18 Rather than a general discussion of faith, however, the aspect we wish to stress particularly is the need, not only to have faith within ourselves, but to learn how to bear it and communicate it to others, as part of the spirit’s fruitage. This means to have a living, active faith, as James said: “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” (Jas. 2:17, NW) The kind of works needed whereby others can benefit from our own faith is shown by Paul when, in question form, he argues that preaching the message of truth is our all-important work in order that others may first hear of Jehovah, then exercise faith in him and call upon him, resulting in their eventual salvation, and our own too.—Rom. 10:9-15.
19 Therefore we must always be ready to speak and to act in harmony with our faith. Do we have strong faith in Jehovah’s kingdom and its message? Then, says Paul: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” (2 Tim. 4:2, NW) Do we have strong faith in Jehovah’s organization? Then loyally and actively support it. Your regular attendance at the congregation meetings is in itself a testimony to your faith, encouraging others to do the same. Do we not sometimes know those who are old in the truth and old in years, perhaps so frail that they can do but little in getting out to preach to others, and so deaf that they can hear but little at the meetings? Yet still they come, as regularly as possible. They love to be in the company of God’s gathered people. It is an expression of their deep-rooted faith and devotion. Their very presence encourages those who are newly interested to think well of an organization that inspires such lifelong confidence among its members. May Jehovah richly bless and sustain these steadfast souls in strong faith and true devotion throughout their earthly course.
20. How are mildness and its associated qualities seen to inhere in Jehovah?
20 Next comes the fine quality of mildness, which is closely linked with lowliness and humility. At this point, someone may question whether this quality is seen to inhere in Jehovah, bearing in mind his supreme authority, his sovereign will and highly exalted position. But listen to what Jehovah himself says in that very connection: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” What unexpected undeserved kindness, that the Almighty should, so to speak, come right down to our level!—Isa. 57:15, AS.
21. Why is this aspect of the spirit’s fruitage so refreshing and desirable?
21 This aspect of the spirit’s fruitage is one that is most refreshing to come in contact with and, after all, that is the great attraction regarding fruit, is it not, even more than its food value? It is so refreshing. Do your brothers and sisters find your company refreshing, with never a fear of finding you harsh or unsympathetic, as if you were on a higher level than they? Mildness and lowliness are specially desirable, too, when witnessing to others, many of whom are full of weariness of spirit. Do you remember what Jesus said about this? “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.”—Matt. 11:28, 29, NW.
22. Why is mildness needed by those in responsible positions?
22 Mildness is also needed by those in any position of responsibility, for, as Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Brothers, even though a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to restore such a man in a spirit of mildness, as you each keep an eye on yourself, for fear you also may be tempted.”—Gal. 6:1, NW. See also 2 Timothy 2:25, NW.
23. With what is self-control closely related, and in what respects do we need to be keenly alert?
23 Finally, we turn our attention to self-control. That is opposite to the spirit of the world these days, where violence and fits of anger and ready indulgence in fleshly desires and passions are the order of the day. (2 Tim. 3:3) Self-control may not be mentioned in Scripture so often as the other qualities, but when we remember it is closely tied in with discipline we know that it has strong Scriptural support. Due to imperfection we are apt to go to extremes, either becoming headstrong or easing off and becoming slack. Remember that a fruit tree that is allowed to get out of hand soon ceases to bear fine fruit, but it becomes degenerate and an easy victim of corrupting influences and disease. Therefore we need to be alert at all times, not only to the unique Kingdom privileges and prospects that are ours, but also to the dangers both from within and from without. We are engaged in a contest and, as Paul says: “Every man taking part in a contest exercises self-control in all things.” Hence, as he goes on to say: “I browbeat my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”—1 Cor. 9:25, 27, NW.
24. What other aspect of discipline contributes to good fruitage?
24 Later, in the same letter, after drawing attention to the sad results of a lack of self-control and the consequent need for self-scrutiny, he mentions the other aspect of discipline, namely, that administered by Jehovah. He says: “If we would discern what we ourselves are, we would not be judged. However, when we are judged, we are disciplined by Jehovah.” Every true son needs and receives such discipline, as Paul points out in his letter to the Hebrews. “True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—1 Cor. 11:31, 32; Heb. 12:11, NW.
25. How and under what different figure does Paul exhort us at Colossians 3:12-14?
25 To conclude our study, we remind you what the apostle wrote to the Colossians. True, the illustration of fruitage is not used, but rather that of clothing, for the purpose of identification. However, the same idea obtains. We do not have to make up the pattern ourselves for the different garments and then cut them out, all bits and pieces. Instead, God provides the clothing according to his own pattern and it is up to us to put it on and wear it. It is a lovely description: “Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union,” keeping us closely united as Jehovah’s gathered people.—Col. 3:12-14, NW.