FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, NO. 2, OF GIFTS, FRUIT AND LIFE!

We often hear about the gifts of the Spirit in sermons and when Christians speak of their lives in Christ. The Apostle Paul points out that there are a vast variety of gifts, but they all come from the same source, the Holy Spirit, and they are for the purpose of the ministry of the same Lord to the glory of the same God and Father of all. 1 Corinthians 12:3-5. Gifts from the Spirit are, for the most part, visible; that is, they are apparent to others. For example, the gift of hospitality, Romans 12:13, is exercised when we welcome others into our home, this clearly being a service to others outside the family. The gift of teaching is, by definition, something done before others since we don’t usually teach ourselves! Ephesians 4:11. In short, the gifts of the Spirit are external, on display for the Body of Christ to see and profit therefrom.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is different. Generally speaking, the fruit of the Spirit is quiet, internal, and personal. Love, joy, peace, patience … these things are not visible to others, they are characteristics that we have because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We may exhibit actions that reflect these characteristics, but the fruit itself is based on our relationship with the Spirit and comes from beyond our ability – they are not just the power of positive thinking.

 What does Scripture say?

Unlike the gifts of the Spirit, there is not a separate fruit for one person and another fruit for someone else. There is one Spirit and that Spirit produces fruit. In other words, the Spirit will give many giftS but it will only give one fruit.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23.

 

An analogy that I have used is the orange. It is one orange but it is made up of multiple segments. Those segments are not identical, although they are very similar. Think of the fruit of the Spirit as an orange, with each segment identified as one of the characteristics listed in Galatians 5.

 

Orange fruit
The orange is an analogy to the fruit of the Spirit. Here are each of the segments identified from the listing in Galatians 5.

 

Please don’t stretch the analogy too far. But, each Christian has the Holy Spirit in her heart. This means that she HAS the seed of the fruit of the Spirit implanted in the soil of her heart – and that seed will sprout and grow ALL of these qualities, because the Spirit encompasses EACH ONE of the qualities identified in Galatians chapter 5

Thus, a Christian woman can’t say “I don’t have the gift of patience!” as an excuse for her outburst at having to wait in line at the bank or for her frustration with the delay in God’s providing an answer to her prayer. If she is a Christian, she already HAS the fruit of the Spirit of patience, because it is part of the Holy Spirit and, at conversion, the Holy Spirit became resident within her. She may not have allowed the Spirit to control her actions, but it is not because this fruit is absent. That is an issue of yielding herself to the control of the Spirit.

Likewise, a man can’t say the he cannot control his anger, because this was not a gift given to him by the Spirit. Rather, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and, if the man is a Christian, he has the Spirit within him and, thus, self-control is resident in his heart. He may not exhibit self-control if he is not letting the Spirit live through him, but, again, that is an issue of yielding to the Spirit, not an issue of an absence of the virtue.

A word of warning: we have to recognize that each segment of the fruit of the Spirit has a name that is similar to words that the world uses, but it is a mistake for us to think that the fruit of the Spirit is similar to anything that the world can experience. The world experiences a mere shadow of that which the regenerate person experiences because of the Holy God’s presence within them.

 How does this apply to my daily life?

 For now, I would challenge you to read and study Galatians 5:19-22 again. The first part of this passage details the actions of the person without Christ as their Lord and Savior. The second part details the fruit of the Spirit that illustrates living a life in opposition to that which was first listed.  Compare the traits discussed and honestly look at your own heart. Where do you see your life with Christ?

Reviewing the fruit of the Spirit gives us clear guidance about how the Spirit should affect our daily lives. We are laying the groundwork here … have patience  (that’s one segment of the fruit, by the way!). Soon we will begin consideration of the specific characteristics individually and will think about what the Scripture says, how that is different than what the world says, and there will be some challenges for applying what we have learned to your Christian life with the Spirit guiding your steps and your words.

Next time, we will consider what the Spirit is doing in our hearts with the fruit of the Spirit. What transformation are we talking about? Why should we want this? Then on to the first segment – LOVE. A hint: My bet is that it is not what you think it is! It is a lot more!

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

 

SIGNS OF GROWTH

It is spring and we see signs of growth all around us.

 

USED Crepe myrtle just beginning to open in spring
Crepe myrtle budding in the backyard.

 

The crepe myrtle in the backyard is just now beginning to open with a promise of beautiful flowers in the near future.

 

USED First rose of the summer
First rose of the summer!

 

Outside the bedroom window is the rosebush with the first rose of summer.

 

USED Azalea blossoms up close
Plethora of azalea blooms grace the yard.

 

The azalea bush in the backyard astonishes us each year as it blooms with a plethora of gorgeous flowers in a glorious display of color.

 

There are other signs of growth, however, that are not part of the natural ebb and flow of nature. I am referring to cranes.

 

I’m not talking about birds — rather, I am referring to construction cranes.

 

USED Crane visible from interstate in Nashville
Crane hovering over construction in downtown.

 

 

USED Crane in Nashville (C)
Crane high in the air over building.

 

Construction cranes seem to be ubiquitous in some communities. Everywhere you look, you can see a crane hovering over a building site.

 

While there are folks who will be inconvenienced by the construction indicated by the crane’s presence, a realistic view of the crane is that there is growth in the area. Someone is building something because of their confidence in the community that the investment will be rewarded based on the community’s growth, population, revenue, … all sorts of indicators that go into the decision for new construction.

 

In short, the presence of construction cranes are an indication of a healthy, growing community.

 

Growth is observable not just in plants and communities but also in human kind. It is easy to see the changes when the baby grows into the toddler, the toddler into the young child, the child into the teenager, the teenager into the adult, the adult into the senior citizen.

 

USED Newborn with mother
Newborn baby with mother.

 

USED Baby - illustration of limber
Baby showing us what limber looks like!

 

USED Learning to walk (C)
Toddler learning to walk with the help o a little scooter.

 

USED Baseball player (C)
Child becomes young baseball player.

 

Changes in our physical growth are fairly easy to see.  There  should also be growth in our spiritual life as Christians, but sometimes that is harder to see!.

 

Paul made the distinction between infants and mature Christians when writing to the church at Corinth:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 [ESV]

 

While not the only harbinger of immaturity, according to Paul, jealousy and strife between Christians are an indications of immaturity, and such actions reveal that the individual is still acting through the flesh and not following Christ. This type of behavior is allowing our human character to control – it is not an indication of control by the Holy Spirit.

 

The writer of Hebrews also talks about Christian maturity.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14 [ESV]

 

According to these verses, the Christian who is mature in the Lord is one who has discernment that has been trained by the word of righteousness, that is Scripture or the Word of God. Further, the writer says that this discernment is trained by constant practice. While the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian and is available for illumination of the Scripture, the Christian must read and study the Word and must pay attention to the instruction of the Spirit. In other words, the Christian must work and practice to train their power of discernment. When this is done, the resulting discernment enables the Christian to distinguish between good and evil.

 

So, what are the indicators of growth in our Christian life? How do I know if I am growing from an infant into a mature Christian?

 

There are many indications of growth in our Lord, including obeying His commands and loving each other.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

John 15:10-12.

 

Perhaps the best identification of virtues indicative of growth in our Christian life is the listing is found in Galatians 5:21-22 [ESV].

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

This is no ordinary fruit. While the words sound like things we talk about every day,  the imprint of the Holy Spirit on the words takes them to an entirely different realm than that of our world.  For example, the fruit of the Spirit of love is way more than casseroles and cards!

 

On Friday we will begin consideration of the fruit of the Spirit in a separate series on The Ruminant Scribe. In order for us to grow in Christ, we need to understand the work of the Spirit, and praise the Lord and our Almighty Father for the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

 

I pray that you will follow the Fruit of the Spirit Series and that it will be enlightening and encouraging to you in your Christian walk.  Please leave your comments and thoughts about how the Spirit is speaking to you through His Word on this topic.   I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

We are called to grow in Christ – we are not to remain infants, we are to mature. May I not be satisfied with milk, but may I seek to obtain the meat of the Word.

 

Praise the Lord, oh my soul!

 

Father, Thank you for giving us your Spirit Who encourages, teaches and empowers us to grow toward the likeness of your Son. Thank you for loving us so much that you provide the Spirit to do that which we cannot do for ourselves, and thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to take our sin upon Himself so that we could become children of God. Enable me to show forth your Spirit as I interact with people who you bring into my life.

NEW SERIES COMING TO THE RUMINANT SCRIBE!

In April, 2016, The Ruminant Scribe blog will turn one year old.  So, it seems a good time to begin something new.

Beginning in April, there will be a new series coming to The Ruminant Scribe.  More specifically, we will be looking at the Fruit of the Spirit that Paul identifies in Galatians 5:22-23.  We will be considering what the Scripture says about this fruit, how it manifested itself in Jesus’ life, and how we can put it in practice in our own lives.  The plan is to post the Fruit of the Spirit study on Friday and the general “snapshot” post on Tuesday.

I am praying that this series will be challenging to you, it certainly was to me when I prepared the study.  I need to be reminded of how critical the fruit of the Spirit is, so I wanted to refresh it in my mind and share it with you as well.

If you have comments or thoughts about the series, please let me know.  If the Lord speaks to you as you read the post or as you read the Scripture referenced, please share your thoughts and insights.   You can place a question, comment, thought or insight in the comment section of the post and I should receive notification of it.  I will respond as soon as I can.  I am excited about this new series and this adventure in Bible study through blogging!

Blessings to you, this day and always through our Lord Jesus Christ.

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

A simple glance at a garden, forest or lawn gives evidence that all flowers and trees are not the same.   What is in the seed of the plant is what will come out as it matures.

 

Palm tree (C)
Palm tree at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas.

 

We know, for example, that it is futile to ask a date palm or a fig tree to grow as a shrub or to bloom as a rose.

 

Book pictures - flowers 15
Flowering shrub planted in front yard, definitely not a rose!.

 

 

We can identify the plant by its fruit. Every farmer knows this, and even those of us who are from the city know this is true.

 

It was true 2000 years ago, too.  See, for example, Scripture in the Book of  James where the writer talks about the consistency between the seed and the fruit in James 3:9-12 [ESV] just after speaking of the difficulty of taming the tongue:

 

With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

 

In other words, what is inside the plant determines what the outer growth will be.  In like manner, what is in my heart and soul will determine what my actions will be.

 

Thus, I need to consider my words and actions in light of my assertion that I am a believer in Jesus Christ and that I have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Non-believers will be evaluating me at every moment … what kind of affect does this Jesus have on my life? Are my words loving or are they cutting?  Are they affirming or are they hurtful?  Am I building up or tearing down?

 

When I curse or say unkind things to others, I think “Where did that come from?”   Scripture would answer that question by saying “It is from sin”.   We still will sin because we are not our Lord. Even the Apostle Paul said:

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Romans 7:15 [ESV]

 

But, the good news is that Jesus conquered the disease of sin that infected each person since Adam’s fall when He died on the cross to take our punishment and to cover us in His righteousness before His Father, the Holy God of Scripture.   Therefore, as believers in Jesus Christ, our old sin nature no longer holds control over us. In short, we are able to, and we should be, exhibiting Jesus’ nature.

 

The Apostle Paul tells us that the evidence of our being new creatures in Christ is the growth of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:21-22.

 

These qualities have their source in the Holy Spirit and, while their names are common, the characteristics that should be evident in the Christian by virtue of the Holy Spirit residing in her heart are anything but common.

 

So, when people hear me speaking, do they hear tantrums and outbursts or do they hear the voice of Jesus?   When I interact with others in a commercial setting, do they hear anger and fury because of some delay which was unavoidable or do they see Jesus’ patience when He dealt with people who could not understand, even showing patience with those who actively rejected His words?

 

In short, the question is whether I, as a believer in Christ, exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, i.e., characteristics of His Spirit given to us by the Holy Spirit, as I live my life before others around me?    We should be striving for living a life consistent with the characteristics of Jesus Christ as He gives us the grace to so do through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

I know that I have to confess my sin for refusing to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and for denying my Lord by my actions before others. What about you?

 

Father, forgive me when I have ignored your Spirit and have acted and spoken in ways that undermined my witness for my Lord and Savior.  I pray that I would keep my eyes focused on you, and that I would reflect Jesus Christ to those around me. I ask that the fruit of the Spirit would grow and be evident in my life, so that You will be honored and glorified in all things.