The condition of my character is more important to God than the list of my accomplishments. And while God is surely interested in my public ministry,He is more concerned with the integrity of my personal life. This is why God is so focused on the cultivation of His fruit in my life. I’m not suggesting the gifts of the Spirit are unimportant;rather,that their proper use and effectiveness are contingent upon the character I’ve first allowed the Holy Spirit to fashion in me.
I think you would agree that we hear more about the “gifts of the Spirit” than we do about the “fruit of the Spirit.” I wonder why? Could it be that gifts are easier to talk about? Are they seen as being more exciting? Regardless of the answer,the subject of “fruitfulness” ranks as one of the most crucial in the life of the believer.
Spiritual gifts equip us for ministry but spiritual fruit forms the bedrock of our moral fiber. When our character is sound we become vessels through which God’s gifts more purely operate. Gifts reveal the ability of God,but fruit reveals the attributes of God.
As some read Galatians 5:22,they incorrectly assume the fruit of the Spirit is distributed to people in the same way as spiritual gifts. This is not so! The gifts,according to 1 Corinthians 12:11,are given “as God wills.” As a result,no one individual will obtain every spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:29-30).
However,Paul stresses that all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are to operate in every believer. We are not,therefore,given the option to pick and choose which fruits most interest us. The text is clear —in order to biblically bear fruit,all nine component of Galatians 5:22 are to be seen in our lives.
Jesus reminded us that a tree is “known by its fruit” (Mt. 12:33). The purity,or lack thereof,of every human being is shown by the fruit (outcome) of his or her life. Even the best produce department can’t disguise rotten fruit. No matter how shiny or well displayed an apple may be,if it is soft,mushy and full of worms,the discriminating shopper will discover it. Good fruit can’t be faked either. The fruit of our lives,whether good or bad,will be recognized by all.
In his book,The Fruit of the Spirit,John Sanderson writes,“We have many yardsticks for measuring Christian greatness,but the fruit of the Spirit is not high on the list. We seem to prefer other kinds of greatness. Yet Scriptures place the highest value on the fruit.” He’s right! The Bible makes it abundantly clear that fruitfulness is the best measurement for genuine Christianity.
Some may ask,“What does it mean to bear the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?” It means the fruit is of the Spirit and not of the flesh. People can train themselves to act in certain ways;however,these learned responses are mere external measures designed to temporarily alter actions or modify behavior. Such modifications never correct the condition of the heart. But as one bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit,there is the accompanying certainty that one’s life has been and is being divinely transformed.
Oswald Chambers once wrote,“The call of God is essentially expressive of His nature.” Only when the fruit of the Spirit is a reality in my life will this high calling be realized. This is exactly what Jesus was getting at when He said,“Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16). We shall be clearly seen and known as Christ followers when we manifest the nature of God’s Spirit in our lives.
Is your life revealing the nature of God? More specifically,is God’s love,joy,peace,patience,kindness,goodness,gentleness and self-control evident in you? Does your wife or husband see it? What about your children? Do your co-workers recognize it?
As we close,let’s do a quick review. First,God is more concerned with our fruitfulness than He is with our giftedness. Second,all nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are to be manifest in our lives. Third,the fruit of the Spirit comes from God,not our flesh. Finally,bearing the fruit of the Spirit is a part of God’s high calling on our lives.
Any orchard owner will tell you saplings don’t bear good fruit,only mature trees do. So,let us go on to maturity,bearing the fruit of the Spirit and,simultaneously,revealing God to a watching world.