Have you ever asked yourself, how can my life as a Christian display the same quality of life exemplified by the Lord Jesus Christ? God’s Word teaches us that quality Christian lives are fruit-of-the-spirit-filled lives. The nine fruit of the spirit are enumerated in Galatians 5:22 and 23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Fruit of the spirit is cultivated in our lives much like a fruit-bearing plant is cultivated. As I was growing up, in the late summer our family would pile into the station wagon to go pick several bushels of apples for eating and baking. When we arrived at the orchard, trees filled with luscious, ripe fruit awaited us, ready to be picked and utilized for our enjoyment.
In order for those apple trees to bear fruit, first an apple seed had to be planted. As the life-functions in the seed began to operate, a young plant grew. Eventually, apples resulted as each tree developed and matured. Spiritually our lives develop in a similar way. A person receives God’s seed, the gift of holy spirit, when they confess Jesus as lord and believe that God raised him from the dead. The life in this spiritual seed is activated and grows to maturity as a born-again believer walks by the spirit, operating the manifestations of the spirit.
These nine manifestations, as explained in I Corinthians 12, are speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith (believing), miracles, and gifts of healings. Operating these manifestations in our lives produces the fruit of the spirit.
A person can be a Christian, having holy spirit within, and yet not produce any fruit of the spirit because the spirit is only potential power until it is operated. What must happen between the seed being planted and the fruit being produced is our cultivation, or nurturing, of the seed as we walk by the spirit, which Galatians 5 exhorts us to do.
Galatians 5:16 and 17:
This I say then, Walk in [by] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Walking by the flesh produces the works of the flesh. In contrast, we are to walk by the spirit, which includes walking by the written revelation of God’s Word and by the operation of the nine manifestations of the spirit. Exercising the manifestations of the spirit allows God to bring forth the fruit of the spirit from the seed of Christ within us. Just as the apple seeds at the orchard were planted and cultivated to grow to maturity and bear quality fruit, we cultivate the spiritual seed God planted in us by our operation of the manifestations of holy spirit. This produces fruit of the spirit which results in quality lives.
Producing the fruit of the spirit profits not only our own lives but also the lives of those we minister to or help. Let’s take a closer look at these nine fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Over the years our ministry has taught that the fruit of the spirit can be grouped according to three basic functions to benefit others and ourselves. These functions are (1) doing, (2) encouraging, and (3) guarding. Let’s consider these functions and the fruit that correspond to each one. We can envision our lives filled with these qualities of the Christ within us to an even greater degree.
Love, long-suffering, and faith share this function of “doing.” A dictionary definition of “do” is to perform or execute an action.
Love activates our actions and our believing; it sets in motion. God is love and He set His love in motion toward us, the object of His affection, by giving His only begotten Son for us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The love of God is what initiated His giving. Each action of Jesus Christ was also framed by love, even to the end of giving his life as a sacrifice for us.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Love motivated Jesus Christ to act out of selfless giving by a decision of will and not by feeling. We can follow his example and frame our every action with the same self-sacrificing love he showed us. Having our heavenly Father’s love nature within us, we can determine that our actions spring forth from this highest and fullest form of love. Love is something we do….
This is an excerpt from the May/June 2008 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2008 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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