Bible Study

Bearing Fruit Under Fire

Michael Beck Michael Beck

It is natural and appropriate to want to honor those who are over us.

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master … (Malachi 1:6)

There are those we truly want to feel respect for but just can’t

So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. (1 Samuel 20:34)

Those who ought to have gravity in the eyes of their flock can “give their honor” away by dishonorable behavior.

Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel (Proverbs 5:7-9)

It is difficult to show respect to one we don’t believe deserves it. 

After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him. And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. (Esther 3:1,2)

It is “out of place” to feel respect for one who is unrespectable.

As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool. (Proverbs 26:1)

unrespectable > not worthy of respect

Undeserving people often fill leadership positions.

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the rulerFolly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. (Ecclesiastes 10:5-7)

While we cannot avoid feeling un-respect we must alway avoid showing disrespect.

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. (1 Peter 2:17)

We are never to show disrespect to any person, let alone one who is an authority.

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. (Jude 1:8)

Not knowing how long we will have to endure flawed leadership causes misery

I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? (Ecclesiastes 8:2-7)

God has a purpose for every season of our life. 

Particularly in long seasons of trial, God hopes to mature in us the precious fruits of His Spirit.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance … (Galatians 5:22,23)

Love

God’s love enables us to do what we could never do in our own strength.

(Charity) beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  (1 Corinthians 13:7)

God desires to replaces our natural, failing love with His supernatural, unfailing love.

Charity never faileth  (1 Corinthians 13:8)

When God’s love fills us we are able to look beyond another’s problems to their need.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Joy

Ultimately, our joy should not depend on how well another is fulfilling their responsibility but only on how well we are fulfilling ours.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Galatians 6:4,5)

By not failing of the grace of God available to us we can have joy through the testimony of our good conscience.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. (2 Cor. 1:12)

Apart from the provision of God’s grace we are no different than any one else. 

If we are not continually rejoicing in Christ, we will fall prey to the very things we hate in others.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Peace

God wants to work in us the same peace that Christ possessed in this world. 

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

We have the peace of Christ as we learn to commit our life into the hand of God and have no fear of the decisions of even the worst authority.

And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were giventhee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. (John 19:9-11)

Longsuffering (Greek > makrothumos > slow to wrath)

An unjust or unwise leader is oppressive (i.e., misuses their authority.)

The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor  (Proverbs 28:16)

The actions and decisions of an oppressive leader tend to make us mad.

Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:7)

It is easy to become indignant with anger when we feel we are in the right and someone else is in the wrong

God uses such situations to cleanse us of a quick temper and work in us a slowness to wrath.

A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. (Proverbs 12:16)

He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

“Giving place to wrath” means giving opportunity for the proper channels to address a situation. 

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:18,19)

Gentleness

The word gentleness is derived from the word “chraomai” used below as entreated.

And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. (Acts 27:3)

Gentleness is demonstrated in the way we speak.

The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly. (Proverbs 18:23)

Despite their lack in our eyes, God calls us to always address an “elder” with respectand gentleness.

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1,2)

Those in authority are drawn to those with a gentle spirit. 

Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. (Proverbs 16:13)

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend. (Proverbs 22:11)

Goodness

It is easy to be good to those who are good, but God calls us to display His goodnesseven to those who are unworthy.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. (1 Peter 2:18)

Scripture calls us to a good attitude toward those in authority in order not to be without gravity ourselves. 

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1,2)

honesty > Greek – semnotes > gravity

Faith

Faith does not dictate to God what we would have Him do. It hears and accepts what He wants to do.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

Having discerned God’s will, faith is not afraid what man can do to us.

In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. (Psalm 56:10,11)

For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Peter 3:5,6)

Meekness

God especially uses flawed leadership to work meekness in us.

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. (Titus 3:1,2)

The meek do not take matters “into their own hands.”

The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine handshall not be upon thee. (1 Samuel 24:12)

When appeals to those in leadership don’t work the meek bring their cause before God.

The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead mycause, and deliver me out of thine hand. (1 Samuel 24:15)

God “arises” to help and deliver those that wait on Him.

Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah. (Psalm 76:8,9)

Temperance

Temperance is demonstrated through the “bridling” of our mouth.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Without temperance, a feeling of unrespect can easily turn into a show of disrespect.

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. (Acts 23:1-5)


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.