“Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such
Paul introduces us to this lovely list of characteristics in a letter to the Galatian church. In this epistle, Paul admonishes the church to live by the Spirit, so the fruit of righteous living is evident in their lives.
It’s time for our February workout and this month we dig into the above Scripture to answer the question:
HOW DO I LIVE BY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT?
Just as a fruit salad’s mix of colors and textures entice us to want to partake, when we live by the fruit of the Spirit, there is a beauty about us that attracts people. However, practicing the attributes Paul describes is easier said than done.
Or is it? Read Galatians 5: 16-26. According to these verses, success is possible if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. In other words:
FOCUS MORE ON THE SPIRIT AND LESS ON THE FRUIT.
For a very entertaining and informative view about the Holy Spirit’s role in producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives check out this video. The speaker says it is a 7-minute sermon, but actually it only takes 5-minutes to watch. So click below, I think you will enjoy the show.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you live the fruit of the Spirit naturally or are you working hard at attaining these virtues?
Although I can live by the fruit of the Spirit by simply staying connected and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, these qualities are not on display in my life consistently, and I suspect that is true of many other Christians. Consequently, this lack of fruit makes the Christian look no different than non-believers.
Drawing closer to God and being more sensitive to the Holy Spirit is a goal of this year’s Christian workout, thus displaying the fruit of the Spirit to the world. So let’s dig a little deeper into this Scripture, draw closer to the Holy Spirit, and bear some fruit this month.
GROWING IN THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Now I can hear you saying, “wait a minute” we just learned that the Holy Spirit is the seed of the fruit and we don’t have to work at it, because it grows naturally out of our relationship with God and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. So what’s this growing about?
I can explain it by telling you a sad story from my childhood. Growing up we had apple trees in our yard. Now that didn’t mean we had apples all year round. No, they were ready to eat late summer and fall. After all, apples go through a complicated process before the fruit is ripe and ready to pick.
Now here is the sad part of the apple tree saga. The apples that didn’t get picked would fall to the ground, and it was my job to gather the rotten fruit. It was hard work let me tell you. Sometimes I even got stung by a bee! My parents were oblivious to child labor laws – or maybe I’m so old there were no such laws. I know I digress. So what’s my point?
Just like the apples, we must ripen – better known as sanctification in Christian circles. Let’s be honest, like the apple, we have seasons of life, and sometimes our fruit is hanging on the limb beautiful and bright red and other times we are the rotten apple on the ground, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us, and we continue to grow in Christ.
AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW
Paul ends this list of virtues by saying “against such things, there is no law.” I feel like these words are out of place. What does it mean? Well, I guess one way to look at this is that we won’t run afoul of any OT laws if we live by the fruit of the Spirit.
Of course, you argue that we live by grace. True, but to live righteously we must be obedient. After all, Jesus came to fulfill the law. It was necessary for Him to live without sin because we cannot.
IF WE LIVE BY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT,
WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW.
Another view is to look at places where Christianity is outlawed or oppressed. In these countries, there are no laws against these virtues. Therefore sharing the gospel by practicing the fruit of the Spirit is possible even where persecution is the norm.
Now I can guess what some of you are thinking. You say all we have to do is stay connected to the Holy Spirit and the fruits will grow naturally. But how do we do that?
As we discussed above sometimes we are the bright red apples and other times the rotten fruit on the ground. That is because the intensity of our relationship with God will wax and wane during our lives.
Just like a marriage or friendship, we must get to know God and spend time with Him to stay close. If you stop talking to a friend or ignore your spouse, the nearness dies, and the kinship you felt no longer brings joy to your life. That is why Bible study, prayer, and meditation are imperative to maintain a satisfying, joyful, and authentic relationship with our Creator and Savior.
Busyness is often the excuse used for not praying consistently, but I think there is something else going on. Do you ever feel like a friend isn’t listening or our spouse doesn’t respond to
Prayer is work. In fact, it is the only effort needed. When we are in sync with God through prayer the rest of our Christian life falls into place, e.g., bearing fruit is natural.
Once again I know what some of you are thinking. Okay, but how do I get out my funk? I wish I had a magic bullet, but it’s not different from reviving our earthly relationships. When there is tension in our marriage we attend a marriage enrichment retreat or when a friendship is faltering, we spend some quality time doing something fun.
So when I struggle to communicate with God, I take a break from traditional prayer and mix it up a little. Listed below are some suggestions that help me focus on relationship building with God rather than a place to make requests and complain:
Take a vow of silence:
Often we sit quietly during prayer waiting for God to speak. We try so hard to hear Him smoke comes out of our ears. Instead, take a vow of silence for 24 to 48 hours. This extended period quiets the chaos in our minds and allows God to break through without trying so hard.
There are other benefits to silence. It makes you more aware of your surroundings, taps into creativity and improves your listening skills. All excellent reasons to give silence a try.
Fall asleep listening to God’s word:
Numerous apps offer relaxing stories or Scriptures; I particularly like the Abide App. It’s a treasure trove of studies, stories, meditations, and prayers. There are comforting verses for sleep that turn off automatically.
Confess your sins
Neglecting to seek forgiveness for specific sins grieves the Holy Spirit and affects our relationship with God. Pray these Psalms to prepare your heart for confession 6, 32, 51, 103, and 130. Other Scriptures to help recognize your sin include Luke 18: 8-14, Acts 3: 19-20, and 1 John 1:9.
Day of thanksgiving:
Don’t ask God for anything, but focus on gratitude for an entire day. Every hour take a few minutes to read Scripture and focus on what you’re grateful for in life. Keep a list and be surprised at how long of an account you have by day’s end.
Suggested Scriptures for this exercise: Psalms 18, 30, 32, 67, 100, 107, 118, 135, 138, 145. Other passages: 1 Chronicles 16:34, Isaiah 12, Isaiah 51:1-3, Colossians 2: 6-7, Colossians 3: 14-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Hebrews 12: 26-28.
THIS MONTH’S SERVICE SUGGESTION
Make a list of the fruit of the Spirit in your journal and make a notation every time your catch yourself bearing these fruits during the month. You’ll be surprised at the result, and I guarantee that the outcome of this exercise is service to others.
COMMENTS – PLEASE
Don’t forget to comment below on last month’s Christian Workout. Tell us the title of the book you read and if you recommend it to our community. You are welcome to provide a summary too. I shared the book I read and would like some input on a somewhat controversial quote from the book. Take a look below and share your insights and thoughts.
Of course, we’d love to hear about your experience with January’s service suggestion. Did you give a book to someone? If so, what book? Perhaps you served in another way last month. Please share so that others can glean ideas for service too.
Also, if you want to add
Mid-February we examine the meaning of courageous faith. Also, look for March’s workout at the end of February. It takes a look at attaining true success through the lives of four little known biblical women.
New to our community? Or perhaps you didn’t read last month’s workout post. Click here to check out January’s blog. This article also explains what the Christian Workout is all about.
Join us in growing spiritually this year by subscribing. Just go to the top of the page or click on the heart and provide your email address. When I post a blog, you are notified. However, I promise no sharing of information and only a couple of emails a month. Equally important, you get a gift to enhance your prayer life when you sign up!
Click here if you want more information about the “Fruit of the Spirit. It’s a great read.
Blessings until next time.
January’s workout was to read a Christian classic. While I don’t know if Mere Christianity is considered a classic, I decided it was time to read a C.S. Lewis book. Okay, to be honest, I am not quite finished, but will be done by the end of this week. To be fair, it is still January.
As far as recommending the book – it depends if you like C.S.Lewis. Now don’t throw tomatoes I didn’t care for the Narnia movies. However, if you liked the series, you will enjoy this book. I find him confusing at times. Lewis is a genius, and I am not – that might explain things.
I mentioned in the post that I wanted input into a somewhat controversial quote from the book: “We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. ” What do you think? I’d love to get some thoughts from the community.
Also, as far as the service suggestion, I mailed the book, Love and Respect, to a newly married couple. This book will enrich anyone’s marriage. My husband and I taught Love and Respect classes, and every time we studied the book we learned something new. I highly recommend it for all married couples.