Archive for the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ Category

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”  Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)

First of all, we must make the distinction between joy and happiness.  They are NOT the same thing!  Happiness depends on what’s happening around us.  Joy depends on what God is doing inside of us.  Think about it, Paul would have been much happier if he wasn’t in jail, but he knew he was in God’s will, and he had joy. (Romans 5:3)  John probably didn’t plan on being exiled to the island of Patmos, but because of God, he was able to have joy. 

Here is the definition that my pastor gave of Biblical joy: “A deep sense of personal satisfaction that all is well because God is in control.”  This has nothing to do with our present circumstances, and everything to do with our relationship with God.

“Rejoice” occurs 10 times in the book of Philippians, and “joy” is found 6 times.  This is one of the letters Paul wrote from prison in Rome, and he commanded them to be joyful!  Also, “mind” can be found 7 times in this epistle.  Your mind goes a long way in determining your joy (or lack of it).  What do we think of our circumstances?  James says to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” (James 1:2 NKJV)  Have you ever found yourself extremely annoyed when you have to wait a mere 5 minutes longer than you planned on in a grocery line, or at a railroad crossing, or on someone else in your family to get ready to leave?  I regret to say I have.  Perhaps God sends those little irritants to make us think about whether we are thinking of heavenly things or earthly things, the Creator or the creation.  In the whole scheme of life is it really going to matter if I was 5 minutes late to whatever it was?  I think what matters more is the example you show your other siblings, parents, friends, the other people at the grocery store, the other drivers on the highway…  Do they see Christ living through you in those situations?

So what’s required for this joy?  If we want to experience joy, we must look to a supernatural source.  Joy only comes when we are filled with the Spirit, seeking to walk and abide in the Spirit.  Our hearts and minds must be fixed on our Lord.  We must read His word, and meditate on it.  (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2)  If we are not abiding in Christ, we can’t do anything of spiritual value.

If you’re having trouble being joyful, look to the Lord instead of what is happening around you.  Know that He is in control of everything, and whatever it is that is keeping you from being joyful, He’ll work it out for our good and His glory.  (Romans 8:28)

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“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 (ESV)

First of all, let’s attempt to define love from this perspective.  Love is listed first in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is no accident, for we learn in 1 Corinthians 13 that no matter what we do “for God” – proclaim the gospel in other languages, demonstrate faith great enough to move mountains, give food to the poor… – if we don’t do these things in love, “it profits me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:3b)  In fact, as defined in that chapter, love is many of the other fruits of the Spirit.  So in order to establish all of the fruit of the Spirit, we must first and foremost demonstrate Christ’s love in our own lives.

Now let’s look at how this quality is demonstrated in the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 NKJV)  Christ not only commanded that we love one another; He also demonstrated this perfect love – the sacrificing of oneself for the benefit of someone else. This sacrificial love is seen again in Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV)  I don’t think this love only applies to husbands, though, for I know there are mothers who would most willingly sacrifice themselves for their children.  So this love demonstrated by Christ is a selfless love – think of others, and put their needs before your own.  (Philippians 2:3-4)

So why should we be developing this character quality in our own lives?  Love is the foundation of the fruit.  Without love, “I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2)  I know this can be hard in our culture where it’s “every man for himself,” and “you gotta do what’s best for you,” “do what you wanna do,” “don’t worry about everyone else, let them fend for themselves!”  That is not God’s will for us!  He says “let each esteem others better than himself.” (Phil. 2:3)  This is how we show the world that we are His disciples. (John 13:35) 

How do we show Christ’s love to others?  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV) We must begin by loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  When we love Him, and allow His love to flow through us, we can begin to show His love to others.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11 ESV)

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What is fruit?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness (kindness), goodness, faith (faithfulness), meekness (gentleness), temperance (self-control): against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV/NKJV)

There is so much to be drawn out of these verses and the surrounding passage that we could probably spend months of daily posts discussing it.  However, I will attempt to condense it for now, and perhaps we may come back to it at a later time.

So what is “fruit” anyway? And why and how should we be seeking God’s help to develop it in our lives? 

As I understand this, our lives are like plants, and we’re going to produce fruit of some sort.  We must be living in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit in order to produce this fruit of the Spirit.  To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the Word of God.   (Joshua 1:8)  Say we’re looking for an apple tree.  How am I going to know when I find one?  I’ll know when I find a tree with apples on it.  You see, “…the tree is known by its fruit.” (Matt. 12:33 ESV)  What does the world see when they look at you?  Do they see the fruit of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit?  Because, as SweetTart was talking about, if the world doesn’t see anything different about us, why would they want to come to Christ?

But what is this fruit really?  When my pastor was doing a series on the fruit of the Spirit he said this, “Fruit here is the visible expression of God’s power working in us.”  To be more specific, I believe this fruit is a change in character, progressively becoming more like our Savior.  This fruit does not just appear all of a sudden.  You can’t just go to the store and buy it.  It only develops through weeks, months, and years of walking in the Spirit and allowing Him to change your life.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”  (John 15:4 ESV) The imperative in bearing fruit is abiding in Him and He in us.  To abide means “to stay, rest, remain contentedly.”  If you cut off a branch from a tree, do you think it’s going to produce fruit?  No!  In order to bear fruit, we must be filled with the Spirit.  Imagine the Holy Spirit like the sap of the tree – it brings nutrients to all the branches.  The fruit of the Spirit cannot be brought forth in and of ourselves, but rather from the Holy Spirit Himself.  Only through His power can we even begin to develop this fruit in our lives.

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