Fruit Of The Spirit
In my grandson’s preschool last year, one of the key things they covered as growing children was the Fruit of the Spirit. This foundational knowledge of what God develops in us is key for our growth as believers in Jesus. After we come to know Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are filled with the Holy Spirit who begins to mature these in us. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 shows us clearly the gifts that God grows in us—and while it is important for us to impart to our children and grandchildren, it is vital for us adults as well. To assess these in ourselves as well as those we disciple can help us identify our strengths and weaknesses, rejoice or repent, surrender to our Lord in the areas we see the fruits of our lives withering, and prioritize growing in what the Holy Spirit is doing in us.
Also, when you look at the life of Jesus, you see every one of these qualities. If you’ll devote yourself to Him, you’ll look like He does! If you’re walking close to the Lord, you’ll see the Fruit of the Spirit in your own life; and these traits will help you become an effective witness for Jesus. Now, you may thinking, “How can I share the Gospel using the Fruit of the Spirit?” That’s what we will look at in today’s blog. Think of each one and use them in your actions and speech. Let your intentions be out of love, speak with joy, share His peace and be patient with those you share with. So without further ado, let’s look at each and see how they can impact us as growing Christians who are commissioned to offer these things to those who do not know Jesus through the Gospel!
LOVE, JOY, AND PEACE
Have you heard the old song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart?” Well, if you know Jesus then you can experience true joy! And you can spread it, too. When you placed your trust in Jesus alone, you’ve experienced the love of God; and there is true joy and peace in knowing where you’ll spend eternity. Love, joy, and peace are God-given characteristics to lead people to saving faith in Him.
Pio, who learned to share his faith, told us that before his brother led him to Jesus that he struggled with immense anger. Now that he knows Jesus, he says his heart is full of peace and joy and that he can now share love and forgiveness with others. And if we have put our trust in Jesus alone, we have a Godly love for others.
Jesus is recorded saying in Mark 12, “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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” And that is exactly what the Spirit grows in us. We can’t help but love others and share the Good News of the Gospel with them! We can’t help but reach out to the poor and hurting.
And we have joy and peace as we do it. Even through the hardest times of a Christian’s life, if they are cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, there is an unexplainable peace and joy. It reminds me of what James wrote in the first chapter of his letter, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” God uses even the hard things to grow our joy and peace. Let’s live our lives as a testimony to what Christ has done in us and share the love, joy, and peace we have with others through the Gospel.
PATIENCE, KINDNESS, AND GOODNESS
Isn’t God good? All the time! All the time, God is good. We also know that He is kind…and He is patient. Bill had been praying for decades for his sister-in-law to come to saving faith in Jesus. He patiently prayed for her heart to be softened, and she finally accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Talk about a celebration! Bill’s testimony shows us God’s kindness and goodness, and His patient pursuit of our hearts. The Lord gave Bill patience to pray for his sister-in-law and the words to speak the Gospel to her. Romans 2:4 says, “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” I feel like I need to write it again…it’s the kindness of the Lord that brings us to repentance. So how can you be an example of patience, kindness, and goodness? Look to the Lord and His Word, and He will produce the Fruit of His Spirit in you. Ask it of Him, and He will bestow it on you. Jesus said in Matthew 7:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
GENTLENESS AND FAITHFULNESS
As easy as gentleness and faithfulness seems, I would contest that these two are some of the hardest to cultivate! And yet, these two are clearly aspects of God’s character, and as His children, we should prioritize their growth. Even though God is all-powerful, glorious, and holy, our amazing and strong Father—Creator of the heavens and the earth—is exceedingly gentle with us. And He is faithful from generation to generation! But many times—especially with these particular Fruit of the Spirit—we place them on our “Christian To Do List”…as merely another box to check off or aspects we show and do when we are at church. Barna Research did a study that shares that most churchgoers equate spiritual maturity with following a list of rules. But that’s not what the Bible says at all. Instead, Jesus tells us to abide in Him to produce spiritual fruit.
When we truly have gentleness and faithfulness in our life, it pours into every moment, second, and hour. It’s shown in how we treat our spouses. It is displayed by how we parent our children. It’s the response we have to an upset neighbor or the way we interact with our coworkers. And faithfulness is loyalty to our Father in heaven and to our promises—just like He is faithful to us. When we answer a person, we let our yes be yes and our no be no. We follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we are faithful to the commands and commission that Jesus told us, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).
Lamentations 3 says that because of the Lord’s great love we’re not consumed – His mercy is new every morning, and great is His faithfulness! The Lord is so gentle with us and faithful to us. Let’s be the same to our Lord and Savior and to others by sharing the greatest gift we can with them: the Good News of what Jesus has done for us.
Finally, let’s talk about self-control! The Oxford Dictionary defines self-control as “the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.” Wow. Talk about a tough part of our character to grow! But Jesus is our ultimate example—especially in this area. It reminds me of His time in the wilderness for forty days, when Satan came to tempt Him. Jesus was starving and weak. It would have been easy to accept the enemies promises of food, provision, and power. But the enemy was doing what He did best—imparting false promises. As discussed above, our great God is FAITHFUL and KEEPS His promises; and in that moment, Jesus depended on His Father and displayed enormous self-control. Jesus spoke the Word of God right back to Satan: “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
There are two key ways to grow self-control in our own lives. The first is to depend on Scripture. It’s like the psalmist so beautifully wrote to God: “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” We can walk in the footsteps of our Savior and use the Bible to defeat the enemy’s temptations in our life. Secondly, we can rely on God through prayer. When our first reaction to temptation and sin is to run to God and seek Him, He will answer. He will help us through. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” God is our Rock and our Salvation. What than shall we fear?
And through our self-control, we can show others the power of Jesus in our lives. We can share how God delivers us day-to-day as vulnerable and real testimonies to our friends and power. In our weakness, we can show Jesus’ strength and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
So let’s get growing! Let us cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in our own life and outpour what Jesus is doing by reaching out to others. And may God richly bless you as you prioritize this in your life.
John Sorensen (Doctorate of Divinity, Knox Theological Seminary & Doctor of Humane Letters, Montreat College) is the president of Evangelism Explosion International (www.evangelismexplosion.org) and host of Share Life Today (www.sharelife.today). Sorensen has authored the books Well Done and Your Story Counts and travels the globe for Evangelism Explosion. This past year Evangelism Explosion International equipped just under 2 million Christians worldwide to be witnesses for Christ, and saw, by the grace of God, 17.3 million people make a profession of faith in Jesus. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife, Ann, and he has four adult children and six grandchildren.