When we are connected to The Vine of Christ, we will produce fruit that is both appealing to see and delicious to taste. More important, our fruit can be a source of nourishment to everyone we meet. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” Matthew 7:16 NKJV. The world should recognize a follower of Christ by the healthy qualities that he or she exhibits, such as love, joy, peace and patience. These qualities are called the Fruit of the Spirit because they are the primary characteristics of God. As we yield ourselves to God’s Spirit, moment by moment, day by day, we have the opportunity to partake in His divine nature and be transformed into His likeness.
Have you ever heard a sermon on “Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit”? The next time you hear someone say she is working toward developing more patience or self-control, gently share with that person the hazards of taking matters into one’s own hands, cultivating one’s own fruit.
Cultivated fruits are fruits that have been engineered by human hands. Unlike fruits that grow naturally in the wild, cultivated fruits reflect a modern preference for strong, sugary tastes, low fiber and little-to-no seed content. Wild, naturally grown fruits, on the other hand, with their tart flavor and generous
life-giving seeds, are healthier because they contain a far greater amount of nutrients. In some cases, their nutrient content is 10 times greater than domesticated, cultivated varieties.
Christians who try to cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit on their own do a disservice to themselves and others. Though at first glance their kindness or goodness may appear natural, upon closer look you’ll see it actually lacks life-sustaining power. It is an empty form of godliness. The real Fruit of the Spirit doesn’t ever need to be cultivated. It is not something we must work toward. It is the natural outgrowth of a life yielded to the Holy Spirit. When someone is connected to The Vine, he or she will always yield the most delicious and nutritious fruit possible.
Fruit of The Flesh
Once we realize we can stop trying to cultivate our own fruit, we can sit back, relax and let the Spirit of God begin our inner transformation. As we start acknowledging Him in every decision of our daily lives, our thoughts, words and actions will begin to change. Before long we’ll notice the Fruit of the Spirit sprouting up where the fruit of the flesh once grew.
Where we used to be full of bitterness and envy, we are now full of love. Where anxiety and worry once dominated our thoughts, we now experience total peace. Where we used to criticize and complain, we now affirm others and give thanks from a heart overflowing with abundant joy. Everyone who examines our fruits closely will know they are not counterfeit.
A succulent piece of bright color fruit offers nutrients essential to our health and well-being. But before it is ready to eat, the fruit must ripen on a strong vine that’s been planted in mineral-rich soil. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine.”
The Fruit of the Spirit are listed in the fifth chapter of Galatians. They are:
LOVE “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” 1 John 4:8. If God is love and we are created in His image, then love should be one of our primary characteristics when we’re yielded to His Spirit.
JOY “The joy of the LORD is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10. We often recognize it, but Scripture clearly tells us our God is a joyful God who delights in His children. He wants us to experience a radiant joy only He can give.
PEACE Christ says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” John 14:27. Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts … ” Colossians 3:15. When we walk in peace we will always stand out in a world full of fear and anxiety.
PATIENCE As James preaches to the 12 scattered tribes, he encourages them to have patience in the face of trials. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” James 1:4 NKJV. In the midst of your own trials, draw from God's supernatural strength.
KINDNESS In Ephesians 4:32 Paul writes, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other … ” We often equate being kind with being nice, but being nice is being agreeable, whereas being kind is acting for the good of someone regardless of the outcome.
GOODNESS Though God is obviously good in a philosophical sense, the Scriptures are full of examples of how He is personally good to mankind. He is not just good to those of us who believe in Him; the Bible tells us He is good to everyone. Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all … ”
FAITHFULNESS To be faithful is to be worthy of trust or belief, to be reliable. When we are faithful, others are able to place their trust in us just as we place our trust in God. Psalm 117:2 says, “…the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.”
GENTLENESS Ever notice how people always speak highly of a “gentle giant”? Gentleness is a characteristic that is attractive to everyone. It shows strength of character and can diffuse tense situations. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath … ”
SELF-CONTROL The Greek word enkrateia, which is translated as self-control in Galatians 5:23, means “possessing power or mastery over one’s passions or desires.” The practical application of this trait can benefit nearly every area of our daily lives. Lean on God's power for self-control.
*Scriptures, above, are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.
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