Monday, January 7, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control, Bible Study, Faith, Women, ChristianWe've been focusing for 7 months on the women of the Bible. But we always knew that at some point we would stretch out to cover other things related to the idea of being a woman of God.  But what?

We thought a list would be easy.  Why not cover the fruits of the Spirit. We had NO idea what we were getting into! This has been a series that has frequently driven us to repent, reminded us about who God is and brought us back to the gospels to see how Jesus was demonstrating the Spirit's blessing in His own life.  We hope you gain as much from this series as we did!

Did you grow up singing:

Oh...The fruit of the Spirit's not a pineapple!
Oh...The fruit of the Spirit's not a pineapple!
So if you're a pineapple,
I guess you better hear it,
You can't be a fruit of the Spirit.

I love that song.  I need a mnemonic in order to remember a list and what better than a mnemonic set to music? However when my Sunday School teachers were teaching it to me, nobody was talking about what exactly is a "fruit of the Spirit."  There's no one to blame, but I remember learning a lot more about what the Holy Spirit didn't do than what He did.

Let's start with the facts everyone agrees on (pretty much).

1. The Holy Spirit is one of the three people who make up God.
2. He has been active in the world since the very beginning (Genesis 1:2).
3. He played an active and at times miraculous role in the Old Testament guiding and supporting the chosen leaders of God's people (for example Jephthah, Samson and David).
4. He is the inspiring agent of the Word of God and he was promised to the Apostles to help them remember what Jesus told them (2 Peter 1:12, Ephesians 3:5, John 14:25-26).

Slightly more controversial is the fact that all Christians have the Holy Spirit living inside of them.  We see this very plainly in Acts 2:38 where Peter instructs his listeners to repent and be baptized in order to receive 2 things - first forgiveness of sins and second the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Paul also refers to this fact in Ephesians when he says we were "sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise" and in Corinthians when he says "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (Ephesians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 3:16) The idea that the Holy Spirit is the promise of our resurrection and that He testifies with our spirits that we are indeed children of God is made even plainer in Romans 8.

Now we are ready to ask, what on earth does the fruit of the Spirit mean!  Well think of it this way.  If I asked you what was the fruit of the apple tree, you'd say an apple.  It's not a trick question.  If I've got an apple tree growing in my front yard, I'll have apples.  Well, if the Holy Spirit is living inside of us, our lives will have an increasing measure of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Simple as that.

This isn't some kind of miraculous gift - this verse isn't talking about speaking in tongues or healing or prophecy. It's talking about the fact that people who "live by the Spirit," in other words people who are alive in Christ (thus have the indwelling Spirit), should "walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16-25).  "Walking" from a biblical perspective is all about the course of our lives, and here Paul suggests that somehow the Spirit directs our steps. But how?  And how does this interact with our free will?

Let's try a couple of metaphors. Children learn what a teacher teaches them.  Children can neither make progress without their teacher nor can the world's best teacher teach a child who refuses to cooperate. Patients can be cured of many illnesses if they'll only follow the doctor's advice.  Although, they chose to obey the doctor, in no way to we suppose that they make themselves better.  We credit the doctor's effective treatment.

My older daughter had what I thought was the best one of all.  Suppose there was a bad King who had ruled with an iron-fist and foolish heart for many years, then he decided to change.   This King was given a good adviser. If he listens to the adviser's wisdom, reads the reports the adviser gives him, and always considers the adviser's unique perspective on the problems that the Kingdom faces, then the King will necessarily rule well and over time we could say the fruit of this adviser is peace and prosperity in the Kingdom.  If on the other hand he chooses, despite his decision to change, to reject the wisdom the adviser offers, he has no one to blame but himself.  So it is with us.

When we do our best to walk by the Holy Spirit, according to the word He inspired, then our lives will change.   If we choose to grieve the Spirit, if we ignore His word and reject His help, then our lives will be unchanged. If after some years of faithfully following God, we find that we are more patient, kinder, gentler than before, then we see the direct working of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.

In the weeks to follow we'll be examining these evidences one by one, in no particular order.  Melissa and I could see immediately that some in of the aspects we continue to struggle.  Perhaps because we had so far to go!  In other aspects we can joyfully testify to the fruit that the Spirit's work has had in our lives.  Join us as we study together!


Read more about the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulnessgentleness and self-control.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


No comments:

Post a Comment