Tag Archives: fruit

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.

The fruit of the Spirit – Patience

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

Patience is never a subject that Christians want to hear a message about. We’ve all experienced praying for patience, only to have the worst day ever. This may be where the saying “Be careful what you wish for” came from. It seems that when we pray for patience, the Lord gives us some training.

But we should all strive to show patience, so that others may see that something different in us. We must be the ones in the frustrating situation who are keeping a cool head. This is an open door to witnessing to nonbelievers. When we keep our cool, even though everyone around us is losing theirs, people may ask us how it’s so. We must walk through that open door.

If we are to bear fruit as a witness to our Savior, we must have patience to deal with all things that come our way. If we do not have patience with nonbelievers, we will not show them love. If we do not have patience, we will not show kindness in a world that lacks it. Without patience, there is no self-control, and so on and so forth.

To bear any fruit of the spirit, we must exercise patience.

The fruit of the Spirit – Peace

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

Love…joy…and now peace. The fruit of the spirit begins with three very related attributes that a Christ follower should exemplify. Related because the first leads to the second, and the second leads to the third. Without love, we would have no joy; and with no joy, we could have no peace. This means that, indirectly and directly, we cannot have peace without love.

Peace is a byproduct. If one merely strives for peace, but does not achieve the other fruit of the Spirit, peace will not be reached. Much the same can be said for the remainder of the fruit. And it all starts with love.

Peace can be a very elusive thing in our time. With our world constantly growing more busy, one can barely find the time to think about peace, let alone obtain it. It doesn’t help that we’re told from every source around us that we should only look out for ourselves and our own pleasure. The lie of the world is that we will gain peace by seeking the things of this world and thinking only of selfish ambition. But peace will never be reached in this way.

True peace, the kind that Christ promises, cannot be caught by trying to catch peace. No, it is a byproduct of a Christ-centered attitude and heart. When we follow after the will of God, when we love others, when we help those in need, when we exemplify love and have joy, we will get peace. The peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) will be ours if we seek the Lord first and foremost in our lives.

The fruit of the Spirit – Joy

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

What’s the first thing that the nonbeliever can see about a professed believer? It could be argued that one’s emotional state is the first impression that an observer can pick up. If we, as Christ followers, have no joy we don’t send a very appealing message to those watching. If we are to convince the unsaved that we have something that they should want, we should act like it.

This is not to say that we should, at all times, have an ear-to-ear grin on our faces. Times will come in our lives that are nothing to smile about. But if we have the joy of Christ inside us, the way we handle the bad times will be different than the way someone who doesn’t have Christ would handle them. We can show that we have an overall joy in our lives even as we go through down times in our lives. It’s in these times that we will be watched the most.

It can be quite easy to put on a happy face and act like life is perfect even though we know it isn’t, but real joy isn’t about putting on a facade to fool everyone. The Lord’s instructions are not to fool anyone. It is about living out the joy that is within us. Look to Christ as an example.

A few scriptures that offer some help in this area are Matthew 6:27, John 15:11, John 10:10, Romans 8:35, 2 Corinthians 4:9, Psalm 5:11, Psalm 28:7. There are many more that would also offer guidance.

The fruit of the Spirit – Love

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the spirit is love…

Paul starts out the portion of his letter to the Galatian Christians on the fruit of the spirit by stating that love is one of the quality traits we should bear as followers of Christ. One should think there is no coincidence in the fact that this is the first trait listed in the fruit of the spirit. Love is a major theme in God’s Word.

Why is it that love is so important in the life of a Christ follower? Why would love be so important to be listed first among the fruit of the spirit, mentioned so many times throughout the scriptures, and spoken of so often by Jesus Himself? Because without love, everything else is worthless.

Many wedding ceremonies include a reading from I Corinthians 13. We call it “the love chapter”. A wonderful chapter it is, but we often hear it quoted starting in verse 4. This is where the characteristics of love are given. Look just before that verse to find what Paul says on the importance of love. “…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned; but have not love, I gain nothing.“(2b-3)

Did you catch that? If we have the faith to move mountains, but don’t have love in our hearts, it’s worthless faith! All too often we place more importance on faith and works than on love. The fact is, that those works and that faith ought to be based in love. When we perform kind acts, it should be out of love, not duty. When we sing songs of praise to the Lord, it must be out of love for Him, not obligation.

When Jesus Christ was questioned as to the greatest of the commandments, He listed near the top “love your neighbor as yourself“(Matthew 22:39). If we can keep this commandment, almost everything else we’re instructed to do will come as a natural byproduct.

They will know we are Christians by our love. Let it show.

Ripe for the Harvest

Romans 1:13 “I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.”

It’s that time of the year for the farmer. He has plowed the land. He has prepped the soil by fertilizing it with nutrients. He has laid seeds and carefully watered his fields. He has watched his seeds sprout and grow into big, healthy plants. And now, after much hard work and great patience, it’s time for the harvest. He gazes over his field to find…none of his plants have produced any fruit?

That scenario seems silly doesn’t it? Minus a catastrophe, a farmer who has put a lot of hard work into planting a field expects to see fruit when the harvest comes. In the same way, when we invest our time and resources into others, we should expect to see the Lord do a work in peoples lives. Paul didn’t say I want to work among you and maybe I’ll see some of you grow. He said I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit. Why? Because he had seen the Lord work in these people before and expected Him to do it again.

Now, I know what you’re saying to yourself. I do invest in people at the church and I have seen people grow in their walk with Jesus. It’s worth pointing out here who Paul is speaking to. Paul is speaking to the Gentiles. A people group that was far from God and considered wretched and unclean. See where I’m going with this? Did you just get a little uncomfortable in your seat? Good, because I know I just did and I’m the one writing this devotional. While it is not only good, but it is actually God’s will for us to disciple the next generation, He has also called us to reach out to those who are far from Him. Those who are wretched and unclean, as we all once were. Those who are outside our church walls, and outside of our comfort zone for that matter.

We can’t choose one or the other. God is inviting us into His work, and His work involves both discipling and reaching the lost. Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.” Will you work the fields today? Better yet, will you work the fields today expecting Jesus to do a miracle is someone’s life? I pray today that if anything has prevented you in the past from reaching out to someone, just as Paul was prevented from reaching out to the Romans, that God would give you the opportunity and the courage to be bold in His name.

How Good Is Your Fruit?

It is difficult to hide rotten fruit.

Luke 3:7-14  He then said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!
9 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 “What then should we do?” the crowds were asking him. 11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”

John had a very practical message for the new converts, he told them that they would need to live a different lifestyle, there would need to be a change of behavior that would prove that their conversion experience was authentic. At the same time John didn’t want to get them dragged down with a bunch of legalism. John gave them a short practical list of  “how-to” tips:

  • be generous (Luke 3:10-11)
  • be fair (Luke 3:12-13)
  • don’t steal (Luke 3:14)

Take note that the correct process is new convert first and then new lifestyle second. Jesus doesn’t expect us to become experts at living to please him overnight.

You should understand that all of us are producing fruit, it is just a matter of whether the fruit is good or not, Jesus says we can’t produce both. (Luke 6:41-45) We can try and cover up the truth about ourselves but when the produce is rotten then the whole world will figure it out.

I need to protect my heart so that the things that I say and do will be a testimony to the change that Jesus has made in my life. I need to live out Matthew 5:16 so that the world will see good fruit and be drawn closer to Jesus.

Thank you Lord for giving me a new life, I want to produce good fruit as a testimony of your goodness.

The Soul of Faith

Ultimately, for as much control as we may give God in our lives, for as much as we may say that He leads us, in free will, we are defined not by faith but by the worth we place on it in the love that we have. For though it is our faith that ultimately saves us, it is love that “covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Over the ages, considerable time has been spent debating how one truly becomes the most effective disciple of Christ, the way that one can most successfully use their faith. After all, it is James who reminds us that our faith, if it is without works, is dead. It holds not the power to save us because it has grown as stagnant, as hard and as hollow as our hearts. Our works, they represent the spirit and the soul of our faith. (James 4:14-26)

Let us consider that for a moment. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” You see, the soul and the body represent a special relationship with each other. Though one may be able to exist without the other, the body is ultimately created as a vessel for the soul, yet it is not the body that defines the soul, but rather the soul that gives its value to everything the body does, and is. Faith can exist without works, yet those works, much like the soul to the body, give faith its inherent value, its intrinsic worth in the most basic and fundamental of ways.

For faith then to hold substance it must be the vessel of our works, not only bearing its fruits but containing them, carrying them, and offering them as the means by which we edify, strengthen and uplift others. Faith, to hold significance, must be expressed by a life given in love to others. Without it, we can speak with tongues, we can seek to understand, to fathom the mysteries that surround a great and mighty God, and eloquence can drip from our mouths in defense of faith, yet it is the shell of what it must be because it gains nothing and offers less. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

How then do we love? How then do we serve as the effective disciple? This itself is easily answered by our blessed Savior Himself, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:31-46) It is to look at the world, to see the need around you with clear eyes, and, as Christ Jesus Himself had done, answer the call in patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Though the ultimate act of love was the sacrifice of that Lamb of God who took away the sins of world, that was one example of Christ’s love amongst so many as great as it was. His ministry, His life would be eventually defined by that singular act of love in service to us, and yet it was a road paved by every act of healing, each act of giving, and the meaning that was behind it. It was a path that was laid down by His rejection of evil, hatred, slander and bitterness as we are taught the new commandment: to love one another as Christ Himself loved us. (John 13:34-35)

In the end, nothing can save us short of the faith that we have. Yet it is the character and the nature of our faith that it is the God who judges the heart who holds a power over us. Consider rightly the Lord’s admonition to the prophet, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Are we, as the disciples of a living God to define our own faith, and thereby seek to build our own vessels for it, ones that seek to hold faith but are cracked and broken, with the dwindling waters it holds stagnate? Or are we to pour forth living waters with fresh springs of the Lord that quench the longing thirst of the spirit and the soul?

Let your faith be a vessel for love and the works thereof. See the world as it is, a place in desperate need of healing and hope, and let the soul of your faith shine as the means of love for others. In this way we can be the effective disciple, the effective believer God and Christ intend for us to be through the power and the strength of the Spirit working through us.