Monday, October 1, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit

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

            Almost every Christian has read the fruit of the Spirit and quite a few have them memorized. Many people (including myself) will just rattle them off, not giving them a second thought. We see the words, and we go, “Okay, that’s great, I need to love people,” without thinking about what that even means. I hope that through this article, by preaching to myself a little, I can shed some light on some of the difficulties and complexities of the process and products of sanctification.
                 But first; a quick definition, because I love definitions;
            Sanctification: Sanctification is the process by which redeemed Christians become more like Christ.
Basically, once we become Christians (once we are redeemed from our sins) we are made more like Christ (sanctified) until He returns (when we are glorified). Sanctification is a process. You don’t wake up one day and BAM you're sanctified. It is a long, hard, time consuming trek, one that is completely impossible in our own strength.
            So the first one on the list is Love (speaking of things that are impossible in our own strength). The Greek word for love used in this verse is ‘agape’. ‘Agape’ love is used when the Bible is referring to unconditional love, like that demonstrated by Christ on the cross. Obviously we can’t love people like Christ loved us. This is why it is called the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. When one becomes a follower of Christ they are “marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Eph. 1:13). The fruit of the Spirit is a direct by-product of salvation; it shows that you begun the process of sanctification. Sanctification is more than the Holy Spirit working in us; we have to work as well, just because we can’t do it in our own strength doesn’t mean we get a pass from trying. In Matthew 7:7-12 Jesus talks about seeking and finding. He says that if sinful people give when asked “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God will give us the fruit, but we have to ask Him and actually (for lack of a better word) want to bring glory to Him through the gift we are asking of Him.
            Next we have joy, one of the greatest gifts God has given to those saved. Joy does not refer merely to happiness; but to a satisfaction, a contentment, that your circumstances can’t effect. It is being able to say; “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)”
            Peace is similar to joy, but encompasses other aspects and refers more to our interactions. Peace, first of all, refers to the peace we find with God after our salvation and redemption. After we have battled Him, our salvation finally puts us at peace with Him. It also tells us that Christians are peaceful, not prone to spats with others.
            Patience has a lot to do with how we deal with trials and tribulations. Patience lets us continue on through the hard times, with a stead fast and long term view of things.
            Kindness, I actually prefer a few other translations which put Gentleness here instead of Kindness. Kindness refers to your disposition. To the kind, loving and gentle disposition that Christians are supposed to have. Not weak or frightened, but strong and humble. A paradox of sorts.
            Goodness is the general nature of a Christian. Just being a good man or a good woman, making the right decisions, being the kind of person that a mother would want her kids to look up to. Being the fruit of the Spirit embodied in a person.
            Faithfulness is both having faith and being worthy of it, meaning that a man (or woman) should be honest and trustworthy; in addition to being faithful in his (or her) obligations and duties. Also, he (or she) trusts in God, and has faith in Him to fulfill His promises.
  Gentleness is meekness and humility, both a quiet Spirit and a humble disposition, again a paradox, as elsewhere we are called to be bold. Bold humility is not a contradiction, but merely unattainable by our sinful human nature.
            Self-Control is the ability to put off self. To control the desires of the flesh for the better desires of the Spirit. Self-control is more than just you physical self; it is your whole being, your “heart, soul, mind and strength.”
            Like I said before, we can’t be all (or any of these) consistently on my own. We can focus on Self-control but we will quickly lose sight of Faithfulness; or simply fail. But that failure is still inexcusable. Only with the Spirit can we have its fruit. What about you? What fruits do you struggle the most with?

     Leaping Lizard


Post a Comment