When we first come to Christ our lives are often quite a mess. We find ourselves in a tangle of bad relationships, wrong thoughts, financial disaster and other calamities. God is so good that He starts to guide us out of the messes that we have gotten ourselves into, but it takes time (mostly due to that fact that we arent willing or able to learn quickly).
There are many people who profess to be Christians but do not demonstrate the character of the life of Christ. On Monday morning you cant tell the difference between them and those who dont claim to be Christians. They havent allowed God to shape them into disciples who represent Him accurately to the world.
God has made available to us the means for leading an effective, powerful, rewarding, and fruitful life. He desires that we will be successful and fulfilled. To find a truly exceptional life we have to walk in the Spirit as revealed in His Word.
God desires that we develop the qualities of His nature in our life. These qualities are called fruit of the Spirit in the Bible. This bouquet of fruit flows out of us through His love. These supernatural character traits are produced from Godliness which is to be sought out with diligence all the days of our lives. Too often Christians desire and seek out the gifts of the spirit without earnestly desiring the fruit of the Spirit. It is the fruit of the Spirit that will determine to what degree God can trust us with the gifts of the Spirit.
In order to learn more about the Fruit of the Spirit lets open our Bibles to Galatians Chapter 5
I. Verses 1-15 explain that the way to the fruitful Christian life is not obtained through legalism.
Legalism is not what God desires.
Legalism cannot make us stop sinning.
II. The Holy Spirits transformation in us includes removing the works of the flesh (Gal 5:16-21).
To follow these desires will ultimately result in death (Ro 8:5)
We seem to be very susceptible to sins involving personal relationships.
These works of the flesh will stunt our growth and make us ineffective for the work of the Kingdom. (Gal 5:13)
III. The Holy Spirit desires to add the fruit of the Spirit to our lives
What is this spiritual fruit? (Gal 5:22-23)
It is the result of the Holy Spirit working to transform us into the image of Christ
It is nothing less than the virtues of Christ.
It is Godly attitudes and actions that enhance personal relationships.
It is the characteristics that will attract others to Christ.
What are the names of this spiritual fruit of the Spirit?
1. Love: As a Christian we have the love of God already in our heart (Ro 5:5), but often we dont know how to demonstrate it.
The first step in loving others is to receive Gods love and healing for us.
Love others with that same kind of Godly love.
Love is the key to producing all the other fruit of the Spirit
2. Joy: A state of cheerful calm and delight that comes from having right relationship with God.
Spiritual joy is not based on what is happening around us but rather on what is in us.
Dont define joy by saying I could be happy if or when ________happens.
Enjoy the life God has given you.
3. Peace: When Jesus was getting ready to leave this world He promised to give us peace (Jn 14:27).
Peace is more valuable than possessions.
Peace is something we have to hold on to, because the world and the devil will try to steal your peace (Php 4:6-7; 1 Pe 3:10-11).
4. Longsuffering, patience and gentleness go together. A definition of patience is to be longsuffering with mildness, gentleness and moderation. Patience demonstrates our trust in our loving heavenly Father. How do we learn to wait patiently?
Enjoy the journey
Stop being ruled by emotions
Reconcile yourself with the ways of God.
Dont let any one or any thing steal your patience.
Determine that you will keep on praying for those who treat you unkindly.
Cover every circumstance with prayer
5. Kindness: Easy to get along with. Sinners can be kind to those that are kind to them. The rub comes when Christ asks us to be kind to those that dont deserve it.
Kindness withholds due punishment.
Receive the mercy of God so that you can give the mercy of God.
Fear of being taken advantage of chokes the fruit of kindness.
God promises to reward those that are kind to others (Luke 6:35).
6. Goodness: If we want Gods goodness extended to us we must also learn to be good to people around us.
Ask God to make you an instrument of blessing to those around you (Gal 6:10 and I Ti 6:17-18).
Encourage and affirm those around us.
Pray for others and serve them in some small way (Jn 10:10 and Ro 8:28).
7. Faithfulness: Staying with each assignment that God gives you no
matter what the cost (loyalty).
Faithful to God in prayer, Bible study, worship and fellowship
Loyalty to those God has put into our lives.
Faithfulness to the call that God has given you
God only promotes people who have proven to be faithful.
8. Self-Control is a gift to protect us from ourselves (Pr 25:28).
Choose to operate in self-control, not in trying to control someone else.
Dont dwell on the things your flesh and emotions desire.
One of the first qualifications for leadership mentioned in the New Testament is self-control (1 Ti 3:1, 2). Love and self-control is what makes all of the fruit possible.
IV. The size and maturity of your fruit will determine the size and quality of your ministry to other people.
Sometimes we think we are full of the fruit of the spirit because we are Christians, but when we go through hard times we find that the fruit is not fully developed.
Small-sized fruit or lack of fruit equals small-sized ministry
God will not let your ministry grow until He knows that He can trust you.
V. How to develop the fruit of the Spirit in abundance
a. Let the Spirit guide our lives (Gal 5:16).
This walking literally means to walk the line or the path that the Spirit has laid down for us.
He will not lead us astray.
This walk involves obedience. Acts of obedience are followed by acts of God.
b. Die to ourselves and the old life (Gal 5:24; Jn 12:24).
Die to our old way of thinking and dealing with problems.
Die to the selfish ways of our culture.
Choose to live in Christ.
c. Abide (stay stuck like glue) in Christ (Jn 15:5).
Choose to hear the Word of God, believe it and dont give up on His promises. Feed on the Word (Lk 8:15; Gal 6:7-9).
d. Allow God to cut out the parts of our lives that are dead, unproductive and diseased (Jn 15:2; Heb 12:11).
In Galations Chapter 6:4-5, Paul continues to advise us to take time to evaluate ourselves using Gods standard, not our own. We all need times of reflection and self-evaluation to allow the Spirit to work in our lives.
Only the Holy Spirit, when we fully submit to His control and actively walk in Him, can enable us to die to the flesh, deliver us from the tyranny of the Law and cause the fruit of holiness to grow in our lives. Let us submit to His work of chiseling away the works of the flesh and growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.