Thursday, October 25, 2012

Producing Fruit

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:16-26 NIV)

We are in the final weeks of the presidential election.  I know that because my phone keeps rings with automated voices of candidates on the other end making disparaging comments about the other political party, my mailbox is filled with letters and fliers from candidates telling me how terrible their opponents are, and my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds are filled with pointed comments about one or the other presidential candidates.  

I am not surprised for the most part.  This is the way politics is done in America and it’s been done this way for a long time.  I think what is more difficult to accept are those claiming to be followers of Jesus engaging in the same type of behavior.  I was talking with a friend the other day who witnessed a debate between two men running for state office.  One, my friend said, stated clearly that he was a Christian, but then went ahead and bashed his opponent and his party in harsh tones.  Sadly, there is a lot of that going on today, not only in the political spectrum, but also in everyday life—people claiming to know Jesus being very harsh in their comments and actions toward others.  

The question I want to ask is, what difference does Jesus make?  One can say, “I’m a Christian,” but how is that relationship with Jesus impacting your day-to-day life?  What difference is it making in what you say to others and how you say it?  Or in how you treat other people?

Paul is asking the same question of the Galatians, who were struggling with living the Christian life.  And he gives them a straightforward template of how their lives are to reflect the presence of Jesus.  He refers to them as the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  If they truly have Jesus in their lives, then they will have His Spirit as well.  Like an apple tree produces apples or a peach tree peaches, so does the Spirit produce fruit.  And, Paul said, the fruit of the Spirit should be present or emerging in anyone claiming to follow Jesus.

Today, examine your life, comparing it to the fruit of the Spirit.  If you are a follower of Jesus, then there should be ample evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life through the presence of His fruit.  If there is not, then it’s time to get serious about pursuing the One who can produce it.  It is His fruit and no one other than Him can make it grow.

© Jim Musser 2012

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