The fruit of the Spirit – Faithfulness

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…faithfulness

Our main goal as followers of Christ should be to act with the character of Jesus, our Savior. There is no better way to lead others to Him than to show them exactly who Christ is. Words make a huge impact, but nothing can compare with the example we set through our actions.

In His earthly ministry, we see that Jesus was always faithful. There is never a time that our Lord makes a promise that He does not fulfill. We also should strive for this quality. We should be faithful in all we do.

In this world filled with so many excuses to get out of everything from paying what we owe on debt to facing the consequences of sin, it takes little effort from us to be unreliable. But as Christians, we are to set the example of what faithfulness means.

Faithfulness in our jobs means putting in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Faithfulness in our marriage means remaining true to our vows, keeping ourselves pure, not only physically by mentally as well. Faithfulness to our children means not making promises that we don’t intend to keep.

And, just as important as those examples is our faithfulness in areas that can be seen in public by nonbelievers. The world must see us living the qualities we profess to believe in. Making excuses is not Christlike. Ask the Holy Spirit to bear this fruit in your life for all to see, for it brings glory to God.

Conviction by the Spirit

Pentecost

John 16:8-11  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;  concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

What is the Holy Spirit?  Is it a force?  Something that makes people act crazy in church?  Maybe it’s our conscience?  A ghost? What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit?  What does the Bible say?

First, the point must be made that the Holy Spirit is not an “it”, but a “He”, the third distinct person of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is God, just as Jesus is God and the Father is God. His purpose is unique and He moves in the lives of people to make things happen.  Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit when He was about to ascend back into heaven.  He pointed out that once He was gone we’d still have God with us because we’d be given the Spirit.  But so few of us understand what this means.

If you’re a believer, it’s only because you were first called by the Holy Spirit.  God was working in your life to reconcile you to a right relationship with Him.  You and I don’t have it in us to move towards God without Him initiating.  Our sinful nature makes us want to move away from God, not towards Him.

The Spirit convicts the world of sin (makes us aware of our sinful nature and need for forgiveness), of judgment (to show us the penalty that has to be paid for our sin), and of righteousness (to show us the character of God and all that’s good).  Jesus no longer walks among us as our example for what righteousness and holiness are, so the Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal them to us. It’s also His job to reveal God’s character to other people through us by enabling us to show the Fruit of the Spirit. Lives are changed by the work of the Holy Spirit, who glorifies Jesus.

 

The fruit of the Spirit – Goodness

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…goodness

The Christian faith is one that is plagued with a sometimes unflattering past. The view that nonbelievers take of the religion to which we belong is not always a positive one. Despite our best efforts to put forth a good face to Christianity, some will focus on the negative events that have taken place in history.

This is all the more reason why we, as Christ followers, should put forth the very best example at all times. In all that we do, we need to show goodness. When we are wronged, we need to react, not with more wrong, but with good.

We need to be using our time to help the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Wherever there is need, it is those who follow Christ and do His will that should be at the forefront of the effort to bring good to the situation.

And in all these things, it is not our effort that brings about good. It is the Holy Spirit in us that bears this fruit for all to see.

God with us

Pentecost

John 16:7  Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Put yourself in the place of the original disciples.  You’re walking along daily with Jesus.  The Son of God is not only your teacher, but your friend.  You spend time with the one person on earth who has lived a perfect life and never committed a single sin.  But then, just when you think things are going great, He tells you He’s going to go away.  He’s going to die.  What do you do with that?

We can’t blame Peter for his reaction to Jesus’s news.  When he swore it couldn’t be so, Jesus rebuked him and we, living so far removed from that moment, are quick to judge his stupidity.  But let’s be honest, we would most likely have done the same thing Peter did.  If Jesus lived right here among us, if we thought He was going to establish His kingdom right here and now, we’d have tried to keep Him around too.  But Jesus pointed out that it was actually to our advantage that He go away.  How can this be?

When Christ came to earth as a man, He emptied Himself of His divine prerogative.  He, as a human man, could only be in one place at a time.  In the brief time He was here in the flesh, He could not be omnipresent.  He could not be with every single person at once.  But by sending the Holy Spirit (who, by the way, operated in Christ at all times), we could have God present with us always.  If God was still present in the form of Jesus in a historic place and time, we wouldn’t be able to experience His divine guidance unless we were right there with Him.  But the Holy Spirit is our helper whenever and wherever. His power operates in us and through us to the glory of God.

The fruit of the Spirit – Kindness

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…kindness

Kindness is hard to come by in today’s society. Even kind acts are sometimes done out of selfish motives. But if we are to truly bear the fruit that God has in mind, we must act in kindness out of love, not out of selfish ambition. Our motives matter a lot to God.

It’s true, that we are often rewarded for our kindness in this life. This, however, should not be our objective in doing kind things for others. Our main focus is to bring glory to God through our actions. Whether that is helping the poor, tutoring children, reading to our own kids, or whatever.

Kindness, again like so many attribute of the fruit of the spirit, comes out of love and it related to the other fruit. Without joy, we will not be able to show kindness because we will not be in the right state to do so. Without patience we will never be able to show kindness because sometimes we’re required to show kindness to those that are hard to love.

Show kindness from your heart, and show the love of God the Father to those who don’t know Him.

What is a disciple?

A disciple

John 8:31-32  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Ask 20 pastors what a disciple is and you’ll get 19 different answers.  If church leaders can’t even decide on what the word means, how can we hope to define it?  As with most biblical truths, we must start with the Bible.  What does it say about a disciple?

It all starts with the Word.  Jesus said to His followers that those who abide in His Word are truly His disciples.  But to be clear, that doesn’t just mean that reading the Bible a lot makes you a disciple.  Nor does it mean that learning a lot about the Bible makes you a disciple.  Abiding in God’s Word means living it.  Each and every move you make in life is grounded in the truth of the Word.  You live according to it.

A disciple is a fully surrendered follower of Jesus Christ who studies the Word, regards it as authority, prays like Jesus, is devoted to fellowship, is spirit filled, serves God, serves others, is a good steward, grows, shares, ministers, and loves.  A disciple should be obvious to anyone, no matter what their beliefs, but a disciple is set apart from the world.

Cleaning up

1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When it comes to cleaning up our lives, many people get things backwards. If you think that you’ve got to clean up your act to become a Christian, you don’t understand how this thing works. You and I are incapable of getting ourselves cleaned up until after we give things over to Jesus.

All of the hurts, habits, and hangups that keep us from following after the Savior are exactly the things He came to heal us from. We don’t get ourselves into shape before going into the gym, we go to the gym to get into shape. Likewise, we don’t come to Jesus after we’ve saved ourselves. We go to Him for salvation.

If you’re struggling with something right now that’s keeping you from giving your life over to Christ, like I was before I took that step, look what God’s Word has to say about the subject. There’s no command to “get right” before coming to Him. There is, however, plenty to be said about giving ourselves over to Him so that He can be the one to cleanse us.

Don’t get it twisted. Jesus does the cleaning up. We’re not able to do it on our own, even if we try our hardest. God isn’t impressed with our efforts, He wants our repentance. What are you waiting for?

Guard what is entrusted

1 Timothy 6:20–21 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Each of us has been entrusted with the Gospel.  The Word of God, which is truth, is a target for people who want to deceive with false “knowledge”.  They corrupt the Gospel and call it truth.  They replace sound doctrine with man-made ideas and call it “enlightened”.  In many cases, they include a part-truth, but stop short of the whole truth.  In doing so, they lead many astray.

Timothy, a pastor, was entrusted with leading a church, keeping the hearts and minds of God’s people focused on the Truth.  But we don’t need to be pastors or teachers to feel the same obligation.  You and I are all called to be guardians of the Truth.

This is not a sentry position where we lock up the Gospel and stand guard lest anyone should get ahold of it.  We preserve God’s Word and sound doctrine by spreading it, sharing with all who will hear.  Sometimes for fear of being able to answer those who oppose the Gospel, we keep it quiet.  While it may sometimes be necessary to refute opponents, all we really need to do is spread God’s Word.  Truth will prevail on its own.  Darkness cannot remain where there is light. It’s our job to shine the light (Matthew 5:16).

Seeing Clearly

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”



This world is so confusing. As I’m writing this, the United States is in the midst of our Presidential election season. With all of the things said, the promises made, and the outlandish behavior from candidates and voters alike, it’s hard to know what to believe about anything anymore. What’s right? Who’s right?

If there’s one thing that God’s Word does, it’s bring clarity to a foggy world. The Christian worldview doesn’t make all things known or completely understood, but it helps to know that all things have their purpose and that we’re promised that one day we will understand it all. One day all of this mess will make sense.

I’m big on reading Bible passages in context because sometimes we have the habit of making something mean something other than what was intended. If you and I will read this Scripture from 1 Corinthians in its proper context, we’ll see a theme surrounding it. Love. So, to borrow a question posed famously by Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”

Love, according to the Apostle Paul, is the glue that holds everything else together. It’s the thing that makes everything else make sense. If we do all of the things religion requires, but we don’t love, we’ve missed the whole point. Even our political choices should be motivated out of love. What does that look like? I’m going to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that the primary catalysts for all Christians to act are faith, hope, and love. If the greatest of them is love, we should be looking at the world through that scope. How would our actions be different if we saw that more clearly?

Desire reconciliation, not revenge

lightstock_160956_medium_user_3963721“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 

-Matthew 5:38-39

The way of Jesus Christ is often counter-intuitive, often counter cultural. The way of the world is to get back at those who have wronged us. And why is that? It’s because human nature instinctively drives us to defend ourselves and we feel a sense of entitlement to seek an “eye-for-an-eye.” The way of Jesus, though, is to forgo our entitlement and let go of our right to get even.

It’s hard, isn’t it? Think about the last time someone did something to you that was deserving of revenge. What did you do? Did you store up resentment? Did you take action to get what you deserve? Or did you turn the other cheek? Depending on your answer, I would ask you how you felt about your decision. Did it give you peace? Did it help your relationship? Did either of you benefit from your choice?

God isn’t just about do’s and don’ts or listing off rules to make us unable to do anything. He’s actually very concerned with our character, with our relationships, and with our spiritual maturity. Giving up the right to seek revenge, even when no one would fault you for doing so, isn’t about being weak. It’s ultimately about having the peace of God. It’s about having the character of Christ. And it’s about reconciliation with others.

This doesn’t mean to become a door mat or to accept abuse, but it does sometimes mean sacrifice. It’s not easy, but it wasn’t easy for the one sinless man who ever walked this earth to be executed for wrongs that He didn’t commit either. Next time you face the option of getting even or getting peace, pray for guidance. Choose the way of Christ.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known