Fruit of the Spirit Part II
The Fruit of the Spirit is the continual and indispensable application of God's work in us that spurs our growing, effectual, spiritual development. This, in turn, assembles the elements we need to further build and live out our faith so we can effectively and graciously relate to others around us. This is God's power-current at work in us-how His love comes into us and then flows out of us. It encompasses everything from the presentation of the Gospel by our lives, even without words, to how we shall live in faith, from doctrine to duty, because we should never separate our faith and thinking from our action. This means we live out the Gospel, Christ's extreme makeover and renovation power in our lives made real, and then being exhibited outward. This is not just talking about our Lord or doing a ministry or being in leadership or hanging out as a Christian; it is something far more important that empowers all of that. It is the love and grace in our lives first transforming us so we can be used in the lives of others. It comes without pretention or pride, rather in joy, manifesting the goodness and character of Christ so we are relevant, relatable, and contagious for God and Church. The cultivation of our Fruitful faith becomes the practical aspect of living and loving life and is the current God uses in us to show that the Gospel is real as it resides in us and resounds to those around us. We have been saved, not of any effort or reason on our part except by faith; so, now what do we do with it? We are to be transformed so we can take it to the streets of our lives in how we live to ourselves, others, and even our enemies. The Fruit of the Spirit is God working through us (Rom. 12).
The Essential Christian Life Requires the Fruit of the Spirit
Our Fruit shows us that the Christian life comes with a responsibility to take the knowledge we have gleaned from His Word, our faith, discipleship, prayer, and devotional life, and then applying it while His love is working in and through us! Then, we are to ask, "How then do I live? What can I do now, today, or this week to implement the instructions given to me with my relationship to Christ, to others, and to myself?" No matter where we are or what circumstances besiege us, scare us or excite us, from the drudgeries of life, to daunting places, and/or to the opportunities at hand, His Fruit must direct us and lead the way. His Way paves the path; His Fruit lights our way giving us comfort, knowledge, hope, and life. Consider this: as Christians, our primary job is faith, the atonement of Christ exhibited in us! This is what we have in Christ: Love-His loving devotion to us, and our response of obedience to His love. We do this out of love from His love, not out of legalism or mere obligation, but rather from gratitude and devotion.
This means that we are partakers of the divine nature. We partake in Christ so we can live out our lives in Christ. We participate as sons, (and) children of God as we are conformed to the likeness of Christ. We are not made divine through either our efforts or His, or through purification, and we are not little gods. We have the image of God in us and we have the Holy Spirit, the Divine Nature living in us, guiding, leading, motivating, and fulfilling us. He gives us His actual presence as well as His precious promises. Knowing the promises of God will help us escape the evils of the world. This is a tremendous way to take hold of our trust in Him and grow our faith through our obedience. A Bible Promise book is a necessity (Gen. 3:5; John 1:12; Rom. 8:9-21, 29; 2 Pet. 1:9, 11).
The Fruit of the Spirit is also a description of who we are to be in our entirety. This is the basic, foundational character upon which the other characters rest. God's Spirit empowering and working in us summarizes the essence of character in general as applied to our entire lives as Christians. It encapsulates the work of God in us. This is what builds a life emulating God and building a church upon Him where people will want to go. We all have the ability to be good or be bad, to take what Christ has given us and use it, or ignore or even perverse it. This not just about our reputation and ambassadorship in Christ; it is how we are to serve and be if Christ has a hold on us and our church (2 Cor. 5:20)!
Being a servant of Christ means we surrender all of what we are until He becomes more and we become less (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21). We do this because what we gain is so much more; it is peace, serenity, confidence, hope, and, especially His Fruit that impact us as well as those around us. Think this is too hard? Consider Peter, who writes about the Fruit in 1 Peter 1. He is the example, who through a slow and arduous process, found this to be workable and doable and something at which he could even excel. He went from being the arrogant, headstrong, and reckless fisherman to calling himself a slave¾a remarkable picture of Christ's imputing and impacting work that can also happen to us.
This Fruit in action comes from our submission to God, which produces love, kindness, gentleness… This happens when we are changed by what Christ has done in us. You have to ask yourself, "Am I doing this? If not, why not?" When we profess Christ as Lord or make a public testimony, we are declaring that Jesus Christ has a hold on our lives¾from today through eternity¾one that transcends human understanding. We are no longer of this world, but belong to Him as His child¾saved and redeemed! This is the start of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ not just as Savior, but as LORD over all, over our desires, needs, and plans. This is imparted to us though our intimacy with Him (Psalm 15; 36:9). True intimacy with God is not found in our feelings, works, entitlement, deeds, the reciting of creeds, or even by having the right theology in mind, which is also important. Rather, real, true intimacy is our deep affection and knowledge of Christ that is continually assembled by our heartfelt devotion and commitment, and practiced by our trust. This in turn, demonstrates our willingness by moving forward in our journey of faith.
The Fruit of the Spirit is God's Power in Us
There is a second aspect to receiving and applying His power of Fruit and Spirit into our lives. We have the responsibility to practice it. The sad part is that this is perhaps the most negated aspect of the faith journey for most Christians! We are not great at it at the start. Just like learning to drive or play a game, it takes time to master, no matter how talented we may be. We have to work at building our Fruit orchard by learning, absorbing, and then applying what we have learned. In using it, we grow and mature. The price is not too high since Christ paid for it. We have no excuse not to grow and serve Him! Never consider that it is too difficult or that you are not gifted or worthy enough, because the Spirit in you is able to do it (Psalm 87:7; Isaiah 40:29-31; John 14:13-14; 2 Cor. 9:8; Col. 3:23)!
We need to keep in mind the eternal inheritance we have in Him that we do not deserve, yet do receive by the grace of our Lord and Savior. Our salvation is something we can never obtain by our own efforts, power, wisdom, or time. It is purely and solely a gift that is given because Christ intercedes on our behalf. Jesus deals ever so mercifully and gently with us, a great attribute of His grace and one that we are called to extend to others too. Of course, the Fruit of the Spirit must be done with discernment and with proper boundaries. It is an example of the stewardship of our faith and what we have, which always comes from somewhere other than our own making; we just build upon and refine it. God is the Great Maker and Refiner. We give to Him and His representative as a show of our gratitude and devotion. It is all about His character that resounds though time and history to us today. His character is what ripples with such a strong effect; it is needed and timeless, and can be exhibited in us. The question is, does it flow from you? Do you look for it in others and encourage them to let it flow too? If you want a safe and content place to know and worship God or to raise a family in a hostile world, God's Word and the character from our Fruit of response is ever so needed and called for.
Christ and the Bible are greater than us. When we "get this," we can hand over our lives in utter surrender. We are called to study the Bible more seriously and thoroughly to be biblically informed, and to use it, not just as a reference and guide, but also for our inspiration and life principles. The Bible points us to the One with Power whom we are to know, receive, and worship. The Word of God is essential but it is not the "all in all;" the crucial, missing component is our trusting rest in Christ. At the same time, it is the Bible that gives us information about these Fruits, where we hold on to them, by our due diligence and trust, as a form of worship-to fuel our knowledge and principles. The Bible, by itself, gives us a picture of faith and Fruit, but it is not the object of faith or the perfection of Fruit; Christ is.
© 2000, 2009 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org/