Fruit of the Spirit, Part XV
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal. 5:1
In the previous article in this series, The Rotten Fruits and What They Do, we were shown and given a choice about the Fruit of the Spirit, how we would live out our Christian lives. It all comes down to our willingness to either live a life that is led by the Spirit or one that is led by our flesh. I feel called to explore more on this theme because the direction we choose will equal the type and quality of the fruit we make, either ripe and beneficial or rotten and damaging. We are offered a choice of roads in the Christian journey. Will I live a life that is all about me or one that is all about Christ my Lord? Will I be selfish or truly Christ-like? Will my life be fruitless and faithless because I am stuck in my fears or because of hurts and frustrations that lead to doubts, anger, and then bitterness, strife, dysfunction, and so forth? Or, will I master my past, my sin, and my baggage and embrace my Lord who gives me a hope and future along with what I need to live a really good Christ-like life?
When we start to think and believe more biblically, we will have lives that bring about love and goodness. We can have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control flowing in, through, and out of us. If we rather focus on what someone did to us or what we did not get, we will bring about chaos and suffering instead of the hope and the prosperity of faith, which is what the Fruit of the Spirit brings to the table of life. This is accomplished when we make the choice to see Christ, take hold of His hand, take a stand of faith, and live a life that pleases Him. Our lives will be filled with His leading when we adhere to His Word and not to our personal pride, will, hurts, or dilemmas; we rather can prevent the immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and so forth from being our way of life. We can choose to have a life that is joyful and fruitful. We are called and empowered to have a life that is filled with fruitfulness that benefits us, others, and glorifies our Lord (Gal. 5:16-26).
A Key to Making More Fruit of the Spirit
Your Christian "fruit salad" is predicated on how you perceive your life as well as how you receive and perceive our Lord. Life is not about our wants, needs, and comfort; it is about Christ working in us both powerfully and triumphantly. The key is for us to turn on this engine of our spiritual formation by our willingness to pursue, endure, and grow so the Holy Spirit and His Fruit can flow. We have to want our Lord's empowerment to desire His Fruit, and we have to want to give it away to others. Allow the holiness of our Lord, His grace, His patience, understanding, faith, loyalty, goodness, and love to be exhibited in you-not by mere imitation, but with genuine gratitude and submission, kept by His power (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:27; Gal. 5). God does indeed give us what we need to succeed. We can have the faith to remain in Him regardless of what is going on outside of ourselves or the feelings we experience on the inside. He will give us all we need; He will water, cultivate, and harvest, and also give us the mercy and tenderness to go on. We must allow our faith to build so it does not bring us down or motivate others negatively. Remember, the great hope is still to come.
We have to get rid of the mess that is messing us up! To make us pure, He needs to prune and refine us, get us to come away from our selves, move us from our fears and frustrations so we can embark on our victorious Christian life. We have to master what hinders us-the sin and past hurts that infect us-so they can be dealt with and placed under control along with the apathy and compliancy we settle into. If we do not master what hinders us, it will master us; however, in Christ, we can master it and add it to our arsenal of learning and growth. In this way, Fruit can fill us up and spill over on others around us. This is not something we need to fear; it is not drudgery but an opportunity to be more than we could ever be on our own. Our growth in Him means faith, spiritual maturity, and character development. These are things more precious than any gold, personal success, or financial portfolio. As we go through the tough stuff of life, we will grow and become stronger. We will worship Him more profoundly and purely. We will honor Him more strongly, more relevantly, and touch the lives of others more deeply, too.
When we labor and strive for our Lord, we accomplish something grand and fulfilling. This theme and wording, "We can work it out" comes from a Greek athletic term meaning to compete in and then complete the competition faithfully. Paul uses this term many times to mean that divine empowerment is within us; we have the Spirit's enabling as we work out our faith and strive so we can produce Fruit through Christian living. We can do this and do it well, as we receive the continual work of the Holy Spirit and keep on responding in order to become a useful Christian through our practical application of faith. This means we live for and in Christ, and avoid the things that hinder us like lust and selfish desires or our doubts and disappointments that languish and distract us from His plan and path. Remember, the primary Fruit of the Spirit is Love; this is what we receive in Christ. It is a duty and fruit we live and share with others around us. In hard times, our fruit production comes from our Faith production, and that comes from the Spirit's work in us that requires support to move on to perseverance (Jer. 12:5; Matt. 28:20; Luke 11:13; John 14:17; Acts 1:8; 4:3; 10:45; 19:1-2; Rom. 8:1-11; 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 15:10, 58; Gal. 5:13-26, Eph. 3:16-17; Col. 1:24-29; Heb. 13:5-6; Rev. 3:20)!
How is your "fruit salad?" Fresh and delicious, or spoiled and unconsumed? What needs to be tended or pruned from you? What is missing in your fruitfulness? Usually, it is the full trust and hold we are to have for Christ. Also, that we are not fully adhering to His call to know and grow in Him so we can model Him. This does not mean something is missing from our redemption or His Work or is deficient in some way; rather it is a call to trust and take hold of Him to make it all work for us in our daily lives. Does this mean we need to add to His salvation with our merit or our own sufferings, or as the Catholic Church teaches, "The Messiah's Birth Pangs," meaning we vicariously partake in His sufferings? Or does it mean that the Church continues in some incarnational role of redemption? More accurately, in the production of the Fruit of the Spirit, we carry on His work of being His work by displaying and deploying His work, explaining His work, and bringing His work to others. By this, we are not contributing to our salvation; rather, we are receiving and demonstrating it. When we are weak in faith or consumed by our fears and frustrations, too focused on our doubts, and bogged down in our circumstances, we prove that we are not fully aware of the Total Sufficiency of Christ that enables us to be fruitful and live a joyful, empowered, and impacting Christian life (Col. 1:14; 2:8-10; 14; 1 Thess. 3:2-4).
© 2000, 2009 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org/