Jul
27
2011

So how does one get the fruit of the Spirit that Jesus and Paul thought were so vital to our lives?

Jesus made the most important point and that was that the only way a person could exhibit this fruit in their lives was if they stayed in a relationship with him.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

This also, if you think about it, is an amazing statement. To be genuinely loving or patient or kind means you have to literally be in a relationship with Jesus. If we are to believe his words with this, we need to live this out on a day-to-day basis learning how to be in relationship with him. Through this verse, Jesus is driving home the point that even having the very ability to have these qualities in a person’s life is entirely rooted in a relationship with Him. In statements like these that Jesus made, he was either thinking way too much of himself or he was saying something that we really need listen to and live out. When he says stuff like this, I think of something C.S. Lewis wrote:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.

With words like these, Jesus basically was saying that to be a person of character—loving, joyful, patient, gentle, etc.—you have to be in relationship with him. Again, we need to take him at his word with these strong words he says.

So therefore, just as grapes or oranges need to be cultivated and nurtured so that they can grow, so does this spiritual fruit that Jesus and Paul talk about. When one tends to an orchard, there is watering, pruning, weeding, many different things need to be done to have a plentiful crop to enjoy. It is no different when it comes to the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit that Paul details for us are a blend of our own choosing and the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. They go hand in hand and you cannot have one without the other. The Holy Spirit works with us so that we can be fruitful. As one example, the Spirit gives you patience; but you also must actively be patient in that difficult situation you will face tomorrow. God always works with us in our endeavors, but he never does it alone. We work with him to become the people we were supposed to be.

To end, these characteristics, these fruit are not gained because we are just being moral or good. As I once heard someone say, they are nine graces. I love the use of that word, because in some ways it exemplifies what the fruit are all about. The dictionary defines “graces” as:

• Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.

• A favor rendered by one who need not do so.

• A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

This definition pictures for us what the fruit of the Spirit are: 1) They are given by God who bestows them upon us as a reprieve from our broken lives. 2) The fruit of the Spirit allow us to be who we were meant to be from the beginning of time (e.g., loving, patient, self-controlled, etc.). 3) And they inevitability restore our character.

 

So now might be a good idea to discuss just what specifically the fruit of the Spirit are and why they are so important to our lives. In the up-coming weeks, we will look at these in some detail and see how we can apply them to our lives.

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In: Spiritual Formation
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