13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[a]; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."[b] 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Life by the Spirit
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
[Taken from Biblegateway.com, NIV. Emphasis added.]
I’ve been thinking about this deal of seeing the fruit of the spirit as the outflow or manifestation of a Christian walking with God. At this time I can only think of helping the illustration with some examples I’ve experienced of people who've displayed good fruit in my life.
I was upset while at church one Sunday. I found a quiet place where I could relax and calm myself. A few people passed by here and there but I was kind of off to the side.
Mr. D saw me and stopped. He asked if I was okay and I said I would be. He said I shouldn’t be alone and tried to persuade me to go where there were people. I needed more time. He repeated that I shouldn’t be by myself. He stood there, not quite knowing what to do. Then he walked away.
I thought that was okay, maybe he would pray for me when he gets home or something.
Not more than 10 minutes later, Jo came by. She sat with me, saying that Mr. D asked her to come for me. I didn’t want to talk about what upset me, so Jo talked instead. Then she prayed for me.
I believe Mr. D spends time with God. I don’t know Mr. D very well, haven’t had much interaction with him. He might just think of me as his son’s friend or the girl that used to help with the youth. From what I know of him, he seems like a socially timid man, a nature I can understand. I also understand a good man not wanting to do anything that would seem improper with a single young female. It’s uncomfortable to see someone upset and not know what to do.
Yet Mr. D cared for someone in need of care and sought a way to do something about it. He didn’t wait for a solution [another person] to appear; he worked urgently to find someone.
I believe Jo spends time with God. It didn’t take long for her to find me. She was gentle in her care of me. The big indication was the prayer. I didn’t spill my heart to her about the offense I felt yet when she prayed, they were words I needed to hear. The prayer addressed the specific situation I was in.
Both Mr. D and Jo were right: no one should be alone. God certainly doesn’t want anyone to feel alone, for He cares for each one of us and He is all around us, wanting our attention yet being gentle about it. I saw what Mr. D and Jo did as an outflow of their time with God.
I think one can tell if someone’s been spending time with Christ. Again, A true spirit sensitive to God should become evident to those around them.
I try to think if people can tell that I’ve been spending time with God. I’d like to think that it’s starting to come out, yet I can’t answer that with any level of credibility.
Instead, I will give an example of how I learned from Mr. D and Jo’s example aided with the urging of the Holy Spirit.
A young friend of mine T seems prone to mood swings. I’ve seen him be down and have others shy away from him when he’s down; I understand it. I don’t know what to do in such situations any more than those others do. Still, I wanted to do something to show my care, so that my friend would know that someone [Christ] cared.
I asked T if he was okay. I asked if he wanted to talk about it. He shook his head. I saw his skateboard on the side. I have a slight fear of having wheels on my feet but I saw a possible opportunity to draw T out; I can only think the idea was from God. I brought T’s board over and asked him if he’d teach me how to ride.
He perked up right away. Oh no, I had to actually get on the board! I got on and T stood by to help me gain a balance. He still didn’t want to talk about what was bothering him but he was smiling his great smile again.
Later that same day, we were walking from one area of the church to the next, following behind the rest of the group. He told me what was bothering him. He’s opened up to me about things ever since. I hardly have to say anything but “What’s up?” Recently I’ve started bringing God into our conversations, gently and as prompted by the HS.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
So I’d like to think that in a few years time, it will be more evident to others that I’ve been spending time with God. I know how much I love God but it’s of little use to God if others don’t know it. If I don’t allow God to make a difference in my life, why should others want to give God a chance to make a difference in theirs? Yes, God could get their attention on His own; I can’t account for why He often chooses people to minister to each other and it’s an amazing opportunity that I have recently started to enjoy.
There are hungry people in the world, Christians and non-Christians, I believe. They’re looking for the fruit, even if they don’t know that’s what they’re asking for.
Who are the people you would say are good Christians? What about them makes you believe that they are so?
What are the fruits of those around you? Are they displaying good fruit or bad fruit? What are they and why are they good or bad?
Are you recognized for good fruit or for bad fruit? What kind of fruit would you like to be recognized by?
In what ways could you display more of the Spirit in your life?
God empowers us to display good fruit. Ask Him to guide you.