Fruit of the Spirit is: Not needing to force our way in life
22… not needing to force our way in life.
The Greek word for the second from last fruit of the Spirit is praotes. It is a very pregnant word – pregnant because this word gives birth to so many different meanings. The 1953 and 1983 translations chose to translate it with humility. The fruit of the Spirit is to be humble in all circumstances.
In the Message the word praotes has been translated as follows: not needing to force our way in life. But the word means so much more. Clark translated it as follows: Mildness, indulgence toward the weak and erring, patient suffering of injuries without feeling a spirit of revenge, an even balance of all tempers and passions, the entire opposite to anger. I had to think about this for quite some time before I could understand it. When the Spirit is in control of our lives we are touched by the need of others. Hurt experienced by others becomes our hurt. My eldest will never be able to become a doctor, because she experiences physical pain when she sees others hurting or suffering. When the Spirit bears fruit in us, we suddenly see the hurt in those around us. In a way we also experience it inside us and we cannot remain unaffected.
Praotes also tells us more about how we can deal with attacks from the outside. We can remain. But even more than that, we can remain standing without making plans to get back at the person who treated us so unfairly. Should a wife simply accept it when her husband hits her or should a man simply allow his boss to continuously bully him?
No, certainly not. Praotes does not mean that you have to allow others to walk all over you. The best example of a person who lived like this was Jesus. He always stood up for his rights and did not allow anybody to walk all over Him – whether it was the king or the head of the church.
But a passion for people in need shone through his actions. He could never ignore someone who was in need. And He did not just pray for them and then left them. No, He did something. He made the lame walk, the blind see, healed the ill and showed those who were unsaved the way to go.
And those people who hit Him, spat on Him, crucified Him? Even amidst that terrible abuse Jesus made no plans of revenge against them. He knew that God would deal with them.
Jesus’ life on earth also shows us that He was always in control of his emotions and that He never allowed his temper to take control of Him. Even though He could have justified his anger a thousand times over and told them what’s what, He knew that this would have no effect. On the contrary, He knew it would do more damage. Even though He was passionate about people and his task here on earth, Jesus never used it as a reason to go outside the boundaries of normal behaviour.
When I look at Jesus and living the word praotes, I realise once again that I cannot do it on my own. Even the nicest person here on earth would not be able to do it on his own; we need help. Each of us need the help of the Holy Spirit.
With the Holy Spirit in control we will be able to be humble, despite how we perform. Then people’s needs will be alleviated and the world will be a better place.
What does other people’s hurt do to you?
Do you sometimes want to take justice into your own hands?
What does Jesus expect of you and me?
Jesus, You are our example of how we should feel about other people. You show us how to care for others and how to put ourselves second. You are an example of how we should control our temper when others harm us. Please help me to bear the fruit of not forcing my way through life. Amen