Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
Previously, we mentioned that we must change our mentality. We do this by studying God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15) and by imitating Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). This means we must stop doing things contrary to the will of God, that is to say, to no longer live our lives according to the ways of the world (Romans 12:2). Rather, we should strive to live according to God’s will as He has given it to us in the Bible. This results in a Christian “bearing fruit.” A Christian must produce fruit in order to be pleasing to God according to John 15:8. But what, exactly, is the “fruit” a Christian must produce? There are several passages that we will look at in order to answer that question, but let’s begin with the most obvious, Galatians 5:22-24.
Here, we have a list of nine things, or “fruit” that is pleasing to God. Underline these in your Bible, write them down somewhere so that you can be reminded of them, or try to memorize each one. Notice that the collective group is called “the fruit of the Spirit” in a singular sense, but then the inspired writer presents a plurality of traits. These components only come from having a right relationship with God. Every one of these traits are part of His character. Christians must add this “fruit of the Spirit” to their daily lives. They are:
Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; and 1 John 3:18, 4:18. This kind of love means a love without borders or limits. It is unconditional. Regardless of the actions of others, you have complete control of this kind/type of love. That is how one can “love their enemies” as Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, because it is in your control. It is quite interesting that the people of Jesus’ day spoke and wrote in Greek. That language had four words to describe love: Eros- this is the intimate love in a marriage (this word is not found in the Bible); Storge- is the paternal, familial love, like that between a mother and her child (it is not found in the Bible, but you see the idea in Mark 7:10); Phileo- is the love between friends, or brotherly kindness (John 11:36); and Agape- this is true love, it is looking out for the best interest of others (Philippians 2:4). The trait that is listed here in this passage is agape love. This is the same word used to describe God (1 John 4:8). Just how important is this kind of love, according to Jesus in John 13:34,35?
Read John 15:11; Romans 14:17, 15:13; and James 1:2. This is not just happiness, but something deeper, more holy, and pure. Joy is much different than happiness. Happiness depends on the circumstances of health, good friends, a pleasing environment, and/or security. Joy goes beyond all those things and draws its energy from one’s relationship with God. One comment I read said this, “… the Joy of the Lord is complete and there is no human circumstance that can take it away except when the Christian himself allows Satan in to steal it away.” This teaches us that it is only God who can provide this characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit and its focus goes far beyond anything in the present.Think about this, happiness and sadness cannot coexist in the same moment. But, joy can coexist with sadness, because they come from two completely different sources. Look at what brought joy to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and to John in 3 John 4.
Read Romans 5:1-2 and Philippians 4:7. When we think of peace, we often associate it with the absence of war, or violence. The peace mentioned here is broader than human peace. Some of the synonyms for this peace might be: “serenity, satisfaction, stability, certainty, security, happiness, and prosperity”. Biblical peace is not an ordinary or common fruit; it is unique and precious. For the Christian, peace is an inner tranquility that comes through hope and trust due to receiving forgiveness of sins through salvation (reconciliation with God). How might we obtain this peace from God according to the apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:2)?
Next week, we will cover the remaining six attributes, or traits of the fruit of the Spirit. In the meantime, focus on and study these first three: love, joy, and peace. Ask God to help you in instilling these in your faith. Pray that these will abound and multiply in your daily life for His glory. Your life will be truly blessed if you do! – TS