Fruit of the Spirit, Part XVI
This is not a popular thing to discuss, but the Christian life comes with a responsibility, so we are not to allow our desires or dilemma or pressures to distract us from it (Matt. 25:35-36; Rom. 12:10; 14:23; Phil. 2:3-4; Col. 3:23; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet. 1:7). So, if you really want to grow in Christ and be an influential and effectual Christian, you have to give yourself up. The Christian life requires surrender of the Will, as in self-denial and obedience to Him (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-22). Few people desire to be challenged or convicted from their thinking and comfort zones. They see this as confining, or bigoted. What needs to take place, besides the work of the Spirit, to make surrender happen? In so doing, will it change our behavior, which will help us rid ourselves of whatever barriers that stop our effective fruit production? Yes, the call is to fill up with Him and not with the ways of the world (Matt. 28:19-20; Rom. 3:21-26; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Gal 2:20-21; Col 1:27)!
We can get ourselves better lined up to God's will and call when we become more devoted to Him and obey His precepts from His Scriptures. We are called to bring God's Word not only into our lives and the Church, but also into the world-to be His instruments of peace and reconciliation, denoting faithfulness, as in to obey and to fulfill (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 4:7).
Does this sound difficult? Keep in mind you have Christ in you, meaning we as Christians have the indwelling of Christ in us now and we have a future glory too! The Messiah has come; He inhabits the Christian, and the Christian can partake of Him. Because of this, we possess astounding riches, opportunities, and blessings (Isa. 42:6; 45:21; 49:6; 52:10; 60:1-3; Psalm 22:27; 65:5; 98:2-3; John 14:23; Rom. 8:11; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:7, 13-18; 3:8-19; 1 Pet. 1:3-4).
Does this still sound difficult? Keep in mind that Christ will never leave you. This is a promise of God, meaning we have freedom from fear, as our Lord is our partner in life and faith. Those past failings, things and stuff done to us, and/or bad choices that keep us imprisoned in our fears can stop us in our tracks from accomplishing or even realizing what we have and can do. Christ is in you! He will not leave you! This was a great comfort given to a people who were thinking of leaving the Church. Our confidence is in Christ and not our situations (Deut. 31:6-8; Jos. 1:5; 2 Chron. 15:2; Psalm 37:28).
Be encouraged: you can make lots of Fruit!
So much "stuff" gets in the way of His Way and our call to be a fruitful impact to others. It comes down to how we perceive ourselves: are we the masters, or is He the Master of our lives? We need to understand and acknowledge our direct, personal knowledge and recognition we have in Christ, to act with fruitfulness. Because we know Christ and have the fullness of the Gospel, we can be assured of our salvation, and be fully engaged in Him with the application of faith to our lives. We make our Fruit positive when we are completely yielding to Christ as LORD. This means we embrace the "Christo-centric" life as opposed to the "self-centered" life in which so many Christians engage. There is the old saying that "you can be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good." However, that statement is backwards; we are called to be heavenly minded and when we are, we are good and fruitful to and for others also. Too many Christians are so earthly minded that they are of no good-period! They are not heavenly minded and thus lead dysfunctional and purposeless lives. You can be functional, productive, useful, and an impact, but you have to want it and engage in it and Him (Col. 1:9; 2 Pet. 1:5-8).
Another way to look at this is to see what God brings to us-His full riches and assurance. We have at our disposal the fullness and "super-abundance" in Christ, which gives us certainty and confidence. For the first century Jew, wisdom meant true wealth from God. The more you knew, the better you were in His sight. This produced arrogance and the lack of concern to applying His truth. The thinking was "all I have to do is know, and thus I do not have to do." This is actually partially true; for the more we learn about Him, the better we can model, teach, and worship Him-as long as our pride does not get in the way. Christ calls us to know and then to do. Remove the arrogance and whatever gets in the way, then the indifference and wounds start to disappear, and service and maturity replace them (Job 28:12-19; Psalm 19:10; 119:14, 72,127,162; Prov. 3:13-15; Isa. 33:6).
We can take heart, that Christ is revealed to us. As a Christian, you automatically will produce the Fruit of the Spirit, because the Spirit is in and working in you. The question is what value and measure, what quantity and quality will you bring to the table of life? Will it be rotten or good, little or lots, some or not much at all? We are in Christ; therefore we can know Him intimately. Christ is the Lord God Almighty who lives and reigns in you. So, what are you going to do about it? God designed you to be loved and to give love. He become incarnate to redeem you to make this so, as well as to make His principles available to you so you could know Him. You are valuable, and what our Lord gives you is not unattainable or concealed; it is at your hand and call. For the Christian, He is before us in plain view; His plan is fully and freely given to us by Christ. The only ones from whom it is hidden or to whom it is not available are those who do not know Christ. We have no need to fret and fear; we are able to understand God's authentic Truth and partake in His Kingdom because we have His Holy Spirit (Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; John 1:18; 1 Cor. 1:21-25; Col. 1:9, 26; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:2-3).
You have the real treasure in the Truth of the Gospel (John 1:14; 1 Cor. 2:6-8; Eph. 1:8-9; 3:8-9; Col. 1:8; 2:9-10). You have the wisdom and knowledge of the ages at your fingertips. This means the attainment of truth and prudence regarding our judgments is at your beck and call. You have the knowledge to build your faith by His Spirit and Word, which must come before we apply our faith. But, real faith and spiritual growth must never rest on our knowledge and thinking alone, for then it is empty and of no use (Luke 11:42; 18:10-14; John 14:1-6; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 2:8-9 James 2:14). There is no excuse not to seek the application of His truth with our actions. When we do this, we model righteousness, holiness, and sanctification (Deut 4:6; 1 Kings 3:9; Psalm 119:97-98; Matt. 6:33; Rom. 11:33; 12:3;1 Cor. 12:8; 1 Tim. 1:18-20).
When we exercise encouragement, we transcend distance and expand relationships. This is a prime theme of friendship-the longing to help others strive for the faith and be better in community and cooperation rather than be in isolation and emptiness. When Paul states I am with you even though I am not physically there, he is expressing affection and intimacy (1 Cor. 5:3-4; 14:40; Col. 2:1-5; 1 Thess. 2:17).
© 2000, 2009 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org/