e last of Paul's fruits of the Spirit or attitude is self-control (Gal.5: 23). It is his summation of how one can keep tabs on oneself. For me it raise the question, "How do I manage myself?" Self-management has troubled man from the cradle to the grave. What James wrote about the tongue can equally be said about attitude. "We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says (or does), he is a perfect person, able to keep his whole body in check" (Ja.3: 2). Jesus warned of becoming careless. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Mk.14: 38). Cain was told to deal with evil before it consumed him. "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must control it" (Gen.4: 6-7). Thomas a Kempis counseled, "Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be" (Wa. 2093).
The Apostle Peter knew, first hand, that faith could not stand by itself without the support of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. These things would make his readers better people (II Pe. 1:5-9). What kind of a faith did Peter have in mind? It was something he had to build up. He was not born with it. Faith is a human necessity. We cannot live without it. Every time we take a chance, we step out in faith. We make faith work and succeed by doing what we set out to do. Dormant or inactive faith bears no fruit (Ja. 2:14). Faith is being molded by what we do (Hab. 2:4). Without doing what is necessary and right, faith has no leg to stand on. My first twenty-one years I lived on farms and I have learned early that we had to seed and plant in order to have a harvest. We had faith that what we put in the ground would produce a crop. This is true about everything we do in life. Particularly, when we want to be better persons, we must cultivate an active faith that incorporates the traits Peter used.
The seventh characteristic of a healthy attitude is faithfulness (Gal.5: 22). I am looking at it in the sense of loyalty and trust. Am I dependable or can I be trusted. Years ago, I sold some property to a person on a loan. One day, he became religious and exempted himself from his obligation. Fortunately, a non-religious person stepped in and fulfilled his obligation. Is this what Paul or Jesus had in mind? Is that the kind of attitude that we ought to show in a world that no longer trusts anyone?
A sixth characteristic attitude must foster and develop is "goodness" (Gal.5: 22). It is a fruit because it helps us improve or make things a little better for our enjoyment and use. Due to its relationship to the word "good," it is complicated to define. Jesus held that only God was good (Mk.10: 18). The Bible also supports the idea of a Benevolent Creator that made everything good (Ge.1: 10,12). It was man that stepped out of goodness and into a world of evil. Actually, it is man that has, by his disobedience, structured a world without goodness. All men have become sinners and are no longer capable of being good (Ro.3: 23). Paul, the Apostle was led to believe that humans with reformed attitudes could make things better for everyone. He himself began to make things better for others after Christ came into his life. Jesus the Christ, however, assigned the responsibility to become better and be helpful in improve things, including the human heart to man (Mt.15: 18-19). It was up to man to be and do what is better. The only way a person can determine where he/she is on a scale from 1 to 10 is by what one does. Man does not read the heart but the actions. And it is not the overwhelming huge deed that yields the richest harvest but the countless little deeds that make the large one possible.