Fruit of the Spirit, Part XVII
We need one another to help spur on and encourage us. Paul, even through his heinous situations of being in prison, being whipped and beaten, having everyone against him and seeking to kill him, takes the time to agonize, pray, and encourage his besieged church and of course, under the Holy Spirit's inspiration write about these Fruits of the Spirit. His care and concern are shown even to those he does not personally know but who know him. This encouragement is personal, yet is not limited to only those who are close to him. Paul's goal was that from mutual support would flow confidence. God knows that we all need this vital and personal impact to get us through life and ministry endeavors. The support of one for another must be shown both in a church collectively, and in individual persons in order to yield healthy relationships. Encouragement is a key motivator to our productiveness. Our efforts must be fulfilled in our relationship with Christ so that we are knit together by our love and Fruit. In so doing, we model and give assurance and hope that build upon one another's faith and that display the wonders of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Yes we can-yes, you can! Our full confidence comes from the personal relationship with and full impact we have in Christ. Therefore, it is our duty to exhibit it even when times are uncertain and wearisome. In so doing, others may receive a model of confidence and faith in Christ that will help them handle the adversities of life. God has a plan; it is secret to those who do not want to know it and open to those who know Him. It is simple: Christ is our Savior and Lord, and who we are is based on who we are in Him. Our true treasure is Christ and His empowerment, the impact as well as the knowledge, wisdom, and faith He gives us for daily living. All we need is hidden in Christ; yet, He gives us the key to open it up and empowers us to use it. In so doing, no one will be able to deceive us with false ideas or persuasive words. When we are uncertain as a Church, we should have people near and far to help us as well as the Holy Spirit's empowerment. This strong faith in Christ as Lord should make us happy and content.
Consider that the Christian life, as presented by Paul in many places, is set in the theme and the language of a sport, more specifically an Olympic event-an epic athletic contest-and the efforts that must be put forth to "enter" and "place" in such an event. Paul equates this to the personal life and the spiritual life. To be successful, we have to extend our effort and obligation in whatever event we enter; this applies to faith too. In addition, Paul even alludes to "honor." Being an athlete at that time was not just a personal honor; you represented your city and state and pointed to a greater reality and endeavor that showed community. Your reward then was not a gold medal, but rather a crown made up of olive leaves; nonetheless it was a great and stupendous honor. This is a reflection of how we honor Christ by our active faith and how we dishonor Him by our apathy. As we face conflict, adversity, trials, and obstacles, we require training and preparation so we can be fit to run through them and produce Fruit by the Spirit's empowerment, not be tripped up by our fat of fear or atrophy of non-preparation because of past failures (Col. 1:29; 2:1-8).
This "striving" in and with the faith, the competition and struggle like an athlete goes through to train, prepare, and then compete is comparable to us and life, church, family, and setbacks (you can add in here what you struggle with and what your worst fear is.) Christ will bear it! We receive it, but we have to continue to work on it, to learn, grow, and build up our faith and maturity. If not, we would not be able to stand, let alone be fruitful in the race of life and faith. Allow yourself to be inspected, challenged, and encouraged about your spiritual condition so your self-satisfaction and complacency does not get in the way (Col. 4:12-16; Rev. 3:14-22).
A lot has been said about "purpose"-its significance and role. But, keep in mind that it is biblical. We are called and we do have a purpose. The word and theme are clearly Scriptural as what many have said of it. Real purpose is to know who we are in Christ, understand what He has done for us, and then the acting out of our relationship and redemption by being obedient to God's will. This is also the key to our Fruitful efforts. It will come from our determination to place Him first in our lives and allow Him to lead. This was Paul's mission, along with teaching, modeling, and encouraging others for the faith. This is what helps us spur on one another's faith and fruit, as confidence regarding who we are in Christ and the veracity of the Bible's teaching gives us greater substance for conviction and strength for living life and growing spiritually. A real, effectual, purpose-driven life is always about Christ as Lord and our surrender to His Lordship so we can have the Fruit of the Spirit flowing in and through us (Psalm 57; 138:7-8; Prov. 19:21; John 15; Rom. 8; Phil. 2:1-18; 2 Tim. 1:8-12)!
Be encouraged and be comforted; you are called to cheer, reassure, strengthen, comfort, and warn one another. Paul models this and gives us a picture of the loving shepherd. He is literally giving us a divine message, and handing over insights and truths from The Word of Christ (Acts 19:33; 1 Cor. 2:16; 11:2; 2 Thess. 3:6). Think what you and your church can do when you are all knitted together in love. We are called, as one of the purposes of the church, to join together as a group united in faith, reason, and companionship, with love and Fruit at the foundation. This is how a church and family must exist to be healthy. It is essential that the pastor, church leaders, and members be united in Christ so the fruit does not rot, and by His love and according to His Word, exercise the full understanding of His call and instructions and thus dwell as a cohesive unity, a Body of Christ (Luke 10:25-29; John 4:24; 10:25-30; 17:21-23; Acts 2 -4; Rom. 1:16-17; 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 12; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1:10; 5:30; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 1; James 4:8-11).
If you are truly a Christian, you life must show a degree of Fruit and Faith; if it does not, something is wrong. Either you are having a bad day, thus difficulty with focusing on Christ, or you are too bogged down in hurts and fears, doubts and apathy, or pride and busyness. If acting immorally, if you are always hateful, if you like to sow discord or you are jealous, tend to have fits of anger, and/or are overly consumed with your own self and ambition, perhaps you are not saved?! If Christ is manifested in you, He will show through you. So stop and drop; drop to your knees and seek Christ. If you feel like putting others down, enjoy sowing discord, like to gossip and condescend or are so busy you never look up at Christ…get help; seek Christ. If you are a leader and are up to these no good rotten fruits, do your church a big favor and please leave. Get out of the church; do not walk, but run to the nearest exit and go away. You do not belong there in leadership until you are ready and willing to face Christ, repent, get help, and start to be fruitful!
What shows others that Christ is real and working in you? The answer is how you are, what you say, how you say it, your character, and temperament, all predicated by God's work produced in you. The Fruit of the Spirit comes as our faith responds and resounds so we indeed produce His Fruits. Making a public profession or testimony of faith is good, but if what we say and do does not match who we are supposed to be, which is Christ like, do you believe others will see Him in you? As a follower of Christ, you are His message and display. Allow His transforming power and Holy Spirit to move your Will and feet; if you do not, you are of no good to God or those around you. Now, think through what you can do to make sure your testimony stays on God's track and the fruits you produce are from Gal 5:22-23, not from verses 18-21.
Yes indeed; you can do it. You can be fruitful and productive for our Lord no matter who you are, what you have been through, where you are, or what you will face!
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8
© 2000, 2009 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org/