Posts Tagged Galatians 5: 22

Armored Fruit

Proverb 3: 3

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Within this short, little passage we have the makings of greatness. First of all, there is the command quality of the statement. It is a declarative sentence. It makes a statement, not a suggestion. Here wisdom is speaking; a wise father telling His kids what to do so that they will experience success. There is also a promise attached which is in the next verse. It promises favor and a good reputation in the sight of God and man if you will keep truth and kindness as your trademarks.

The command alone should be enough to compel us but if the command does not, the promise certainly should. Yet there is more. In this little verse we also see the application of the fruit of the Spirit and the armor of God. You see, kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22). Truth is part of the armor of God (Ephesians 6: 14). Here God has combined his armor with the fruit of the Spirit. Your protection and success are here. God is leading us into success in all areas of our lives by teaching us to walk according to the Spirit instead of walking according to the flesh. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The fruit will protect you from the lusts of the flesh. You have to decide to live by the Spirit though.

Secondly, God wants to protect you with His armor. Again, though, it is your decision to walk by truth instead of deceit. You have to choose to put on His armor. Then His protection surrounds you and you can call on all of His angels to reinforce you. Kindness and Truth will go before you like a guard. When you out of an act of your will, choose to operate in Kindness and in Truth, then you are marshaling the forces of God into your ranks as your soldiers. If you lie and deceive or behave unkindly, you are using the weapons of the enemy and you will defeat yourself.

God would have you wear kindness and truth close to you, even inscribe them on your heart. He wants you to do this so that He can cover you with His favor and bring all His blessings to your house. Don’t let the devil deceive you into lying and or being unkind. Don’t let him steal your blessings from you.

Fruit Bowl

Galatians 5: 22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

We have seen that the Holy Spirit comes to us laden with gifts. When he moves in with us, he brings his gifts with him. The same is true of his fruit. Jesus told us to check people’s fruit, that in so doing we can know the nature of a person (Matthew 7: 16). Well, the Holy Spirit has fruit too.

As you re-read the list above, let me ask a question, is this the kind of person you would like to know? Do you want to hang out with people who bear this fruit? The Holy Spirit never loses control. He is always patient and kind, faithful and gentle and above all things, he is characterized by love. What a good buddy to have.

There is a second benefit to his fruit. When the Spirit moves in with you, his fruit fills the house. He lives in you and his fruit is also, therefore, resident within you. Most of us would like to be known to have the character traits listed in this verse. When the Spirit moves in with us, his fruit becomes part of us. We are learning that the Spirit is our leader, that part of his role is to guide us. He is also our teacher. As we follow his leading, we begin to release that which he teaches us. The more we follow him and yield to his ways and to those things which we learn with him, the more we manifest his characteristics. Becoming integrated with him yields the expression of his fruit.

The best part of this is that you do not have to change yourself. If you have been trying for years to become patient, quit. Yes, give up. Or should I say give in to the leading of the Spirit. You can spend the rest of your life trying to learn to be kind and probably never make it or you can simply yield to the leading of the Spirit and begin expressing kindness today. You can be an overnight sensation if you will let the Spirit lead you instead of yielding to your human frailties.

Invite him to become completely intertwined with you. Ask him to take up residence within you. Then begin practicing letting him speak to you and through you. It is a much less stressful way to live. I find that the more time I spend praying, the more I am able to release his ways. It is his desire to help you in everything you do today. He even wants to give you the fruit of his being. So, have a bowl full of Holy Spirit fruit and enjoy your day.

Power and Might

Daniel 11: 32

And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know God will display strength and take action.

God is not raising up a generation of weaklings. He has called us in strength and in the glory of his dear son. There will come those who will lead the weak spirited away. He will trick them by the eloquence of his speech but those who know the Word of God will recognize the lies. 

Jesus was tried by the tempter (See Matthew 4: 1 – 11). He tried to trick Jesus too but Jesus knew the Word. He could not be led astray. He defeated the devil’s scheme’s then and ever since. We learn from Daniel that because we are called according to Jesus’ victory, we too can display strength and we can take action.

Do not be fooled by those who come to you in smoothness of speech. Check their fruit. Are they demonstrating Galatians 5: 22 fruit? If not, step away. You are not required to be friends with everyone; you are only required to love them. Secondly, prepare yourself now for the trickster. We already know he is waiting like a prowling lion, just looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5: 8). Feed on the Word daily so that you will recognize truth from the lie and can protect yourself and your family. Adam and Eve didn’t abide in the Word and they were deceived. Look where that brought us all.

Be strong in the might of the Lord and in the power of His Word.

Fruit Inspector

John 9: 16

Some of the Pharisees said, “The man who did this is not from God because he doesn’t follow the traditions for the day of rest—a holy day.” Other Pharisees asked, “How can a man who is a sinner perform miracles like these?” So the Pharisees were divided in their opinions.

Jesus drove the Pharisees crazy with his continual neglect of the traditions of religion. He performed miracles on the Sabbath, didn’t wash his hands before eating and didn’t fast at all of the prescribed times. Wow! What a heathen.

As we wrap up our brief study of ritualistic worship and you ponder Christian ideologies on the sacraments, there are two thoughts I would leave you with. First, Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7: 20). We are not supposed to judge people by their activities but we are supposed to observe the fruit they display. The Pharisees judged Jesus as “not from God” because he didn’t observe the same traditions as they. We should neither judge people as holy because they “do” all the right things nor as “unholy” because they don’t behave according to our religious traditions. As you see, some of the Pharisees were fruit inspectors. They said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform miracles like these?” Amen. They saw him extending grace and mercy to people and recognized that as a God trait.

Another interesting question we can ask is, “Who is Jesus speaking about in Matthew 7: 20 where he teaches us to inspect a person’s fruit?” He is talking about believers, church people, isn’t he. He wants us not to be misled. The way of Christ is the way of the heart. Whether we practice the sacraments or not is not the test Christ gave us. He recognized there would be among us people who put on the vestments of Christian faith but whose heart does not belong to Jesus. So Jesus told us to become fruit inspectors. This is what is important. Do not be misled by all the “churchy” things we say and do. Check the fruit. Jesus said that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit (Matthew 7:18). Don’t be fooled by my regular church attendance, that I sit on four committees and that I am always the first to volunteer. Check the fruit which is hanging from my tree. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5: 22). These are the expressions of a sincere faith. 

Secondly, being a Christian is all about a deep, devoted, interpersonal relationship with Jesus. It is not about being a good Catholic or a good Baptist. I hear that expression rather frequently and it grieves me. The speaker almost always means that the person to whom he refers models prescribed denominational behaviors. All too often, those behaviors are not scriptural. They are merely the traditions of men. Jesus warned us about this all too human tendency. Be a good Christian meaning a devoted follower of Christ in all that he teaches. Jesus warned us that not all who call themselves Christians or followers of Christ will enter heaven. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven ”(Matthew 7: 21). 

It is not the practice or abstinence of rituals and sacraments which is important. What is important is that we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord and worship him. It is that heartfelt love and admiration for the Lord which longs for expression which is important. Our best worship is in giving ourselves to his Lordship. Nothing else really matters in the big picture. This is what I wish to encourage with these words I write. I want you to abandon all of the trappings of Christianity and follow the trail of the heart.

Let your heart be at peace. Fret not. If rituals, rites, sacraments and even the pomp and circumstance of Christian traditions helps you to make a real heart connection with Jesus then use them. Perhaps singing moves your heart to a tender state or maybe you even dance to break down the walls of your heart. The key here is to seek God. Seek Him until you have a true, heart-felt connection with Him. Once we can connect with God in our hearts then He can lead us into the forms of worship which are best for us.

In our seeking, however, let us not judge others nor take upon ourselves the judgments of others. I hope you come away from this mini-series feeling validated. Whatever form of worship God ratifies in your life is valid. I sing and I hibernate in the Word. That is where I find Jesus. Because that is what is right for me does not give me license to judge someone who is highly ritualistic in their communion with God. In like manner, those who prefer a formalized structure of worship have not been given leave by God to judge those for whom the sacraments hold little power. If the fruit of my tree is good, then that demonstrates a true connection with the Holy Spirit of God because it is only with that divine union that I can produce good fruit. If I do a daily bible study, sit on the first pew at every service, serve communion at my church, and do every other external act of Christianity but do not exhibit the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control then you will know that I am really not of a true faith with Jesus, the Christ. This is the point that Jesus is makes in Matthew 7: 20. Don’t get hung up on the method of practice but rather observe the fruit. By this we will know all people. Do not be misled. The fruit, the specific fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22) is how we can recognize true brothers and sisters in the faith. In these last days it is very important that you become a fruit inspector.

The Surprising Arsenal

Romans 12: 21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Last week my mom called and told me that she had employed my spiritual warfare tactic of sowing into a ministry when the devil is putting up road blocks. She put today’s scripture into effect. Overcome evil with good.

The devil really, really hates it when he is trying to bother you and you write a check to God’s work. It is one of my favorite tactics and I will say that I enjoy doing it. We have learned by now that trying to get back at someone or trading blows with them is not going to yield the fruit we want. In fact, there is no spiritual weapon or spiritual warfare tactic for striking back at our enemies. Jesus said to pray for them (Matthew 5: 44).  

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (2 Corinthians 10: 4). Besides prayer, the weapons of our warfare are love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5: 22). Now, if you choke on that a bit, I don’t blame you but ultimately we need to figure out what works and abandon that which doesn’t. The Apostle Paul knew more about fighting these battles than most of us ever will so when he says overcome evil with good he must have known what he was talking about. I believe an extension of what he was saying is that we will never overcome evil with evil. In order to overcome at all we must fight with the weapons of our warfare, namely that which is good.

I also believe Paul is telling us that we never have to be overcome by evil. The reason is that we have a savior. Besides just having the loving grace of Jesus, we also have his victory which has crushed ultimate evil. Jesus is good. He dwells in goodness and kindness. Therefore, the weapons of our warfare are good. Jesus defeated the devil by doing a good thing, really a great thing. He gave in order to conquer. Certainly that is not how most people strategize for battle. That is why giving is such a powerful weapon. It imitates Christ. That is also why it bothers Satan so much. It is a reminder of how he was defeated.  

Let this revelation sink into you. Our God is a good God and His overcoming is in His goodness. Overcome evil every time. It has no hold over you. Let goodness and righteousness be your banner.

Fruit Harvest

John 15: 8

By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

This is the high calling on our lives, that we should imitate the Lord in word and deed. Many people will read this verse and begin to think of all the good works they can do so that their light will shine. It is important for us to see, though, that Jesus did not ask us to perform great tasks and good works. Rather he desires us to bear fruit. This is an important distinction. The fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5: 22). These are the traits that Jesus wants manifested in our lives. If we do all the good works but are not bearing the fruit, our testimony will be tainted. Good works are wonderful. There are many needs that we can individually and collectively address through our good works but they are not the end. Paul said if he did all good things but was without love it profits naught (1st Corinthians 13: 1-3). Let us focus on letting our lives demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and in so doing we will forget not the good we can do for others.

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Ephesians 4: 11 – 12

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

These are called the five-fold ministries and God calls people to these offices. What I found so interesting about this list is that only one of these ministerial offices is directed towards people outside of the church and, of course, that would be the evangelist. Verse 12 tells us that God gave these offices, and people to fill them, in order to equip the church for her work. In other words, the saints, or the laity, are being equipped for the work of the church. You are the body of Christ.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Luke 16:15) but then when he gave the ministerial offices he gave four that were designed more for the church and only one specifically for the unsaved. These offices are appointed to equip us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. They are designated to teach us and build us up. But we are not supposed to only absorb the teachings for ourselves. We are meant to be the distributors of the good news of Jesus Christ. Now how do we do that? Well, this specifically means that we were not all called to preach since we are not all called into one of the five-fold ministries. But we are all called and equipped for “the work of service.” Your calling might be as a school teacher or a hair dresser. Or maybe you are a doctor or work in a laundry. You are the word of the Lord that is sent into the world and you are going to interact with a lot more people than the pastor at your church.  

You are the one who will be there when a co-worker has trouble. You will be the one they see day in and day out. You don’t have to preach at them. Just let the love of God show in what you do. Be loving and compassionate. Do your job with vigor and honesty. Let them see how a child of the most high behaves. Let the light, who is Jesus, inside you shine. It’s not about telling other people what they should do. It is about being who you should be and allowing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22) to manifest in your daily life. That is how people will be saved, by love. Because God so loved, he gave . . . (John 3: 16).