Fruit of the Spirit
Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to continue where we left off last time. We have been looking at the subject of the Fruit of the Spirit as revealed in Godís Word, the Bible. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." This fruit of the Spirit is not something that can occur in our lives as a result of something we do or work at. If it were, it would be called the fruit of the flesh, and we know from scripture that the fruit of the flesh is always rotten fruit. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians is emphatic when he writes, "There is nothing good in this flesh."
Jesus had much to say about His children bearing fruit and having fruitful lives. In John 15:1-8, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." And John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
The key to being fruitful is abiding in Christ. The word abide in the Greek means to continue in, dwell in, cling to, be with, remain, to have and maintain a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, not just an occasional Sunday morning thing. It is a daily, moment by moment walk with Jesus. As you get to know Him, you begin to trust Him more and look to Him for strength and direction rather than oneís self. As a result, the Fruit of the Spirit begins to develop in your life. The fruit does not come by stress and strain, it comes simply by abiding in Christ.
To illustrate this for you, next time you have the opportunity, go and look at a fruit tree. If you have an orange or lemon tree, or maybe a neighbor has one and wouldnít mind you taking a peek at it, or as you look at the fruit on that tree, notice that the orange or lemon is not straining and grunting so it can grow. Go ahead, place your ear next to the fruit and listen. It is simply abiding, hanging on if you would, to the branch. The tree is in reality doing all the work, bringing the necessary nutrients and water to the fruit. All the fruit has to do is hang on. Once it separates itself from the branch, it dies.
We have already looked at the Fruit of the Spirit which is Love, Joy, Peace, and Longsuffering. Donít these sound like good fruit? Wouldnít you like to have this fruit in your life? You can!
The next fruit that is mentioned is Kindness. Kindness has the meaning of usefulness, excellence in character or demeanor, gentleness, goodness. Again, the epitome of Kindness is found in Godís dealing with us through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. In Romans2:4, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Ephesians 2:4-7, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." And Titus 3:3-7, "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Kindness is "others" centered. We donít see too much of this in society today. We live in a predominately "self-centered" society. A few months ago I took a friend whom is suffering from Lou Gehrigís disease to Dallas for some medical treatment. I was saddened time and time again during this trip by the number of people that were so consumed with themselves that they could not hold open a door for us as I pushed my friend in a wheelchair; they were impatient, as it took a little longer than normal to board the plane; they were put out in trying to understand what my friend said, for this disease had also affected his ability to speak clearly. Many other instances could be named of people showing a lack of kindness on this short weeklong trip.
How can a person cease from being a self-centered individual and become an others centered person that shows kindness? There is only one way, it is when you begin to become a Christ-centered person. Rather than focus your attention upon yourself and what you want, set your focus upon Jesus Christ and what He wants for your life. This can only occur by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ to be both Lord and Savior of your life, allowing Him to live His life through your life.
People make the tragic mistake of believing a lie of the world that happiness comes when your eyes are on your self, doing what your "heart" tells you and living for self. All the people that I have met that are following this philosophy are the most miserable and shallow people that I have ever met. Listen to what Jesus has to say about true happiness. In John 13:13-17, "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed (happy) are you if you do them."
Dear ones, let the Lord have His way in your life. Let Him produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life that will both be a blessing to those around you and yourself.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine