The Fruit of the Spirit

How much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control do other people see in your life?  These are the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Nothing in our lives brings any glory to God or accomplishes anything for His Kingdom OTHER than the fruit of the Holy Spirit. How do we bear that fruit? It’s all about the art of listening.  How can we bear His fruit if we pay Him no attention? 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:1-8

So many of us rush to hit the “enter” button and post something without listening to the Holy Spirit to see if that is what He wants us to say.  And the fruit of the Spirit is nowhere in our post! I see some of the things Christians so hastily post social media and I cringe.  Such harsh things are said in promoting our political positions!  

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry——because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” 

James 1:19-20

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless”

James 1:26

Does God care about political stuff?  Of course.  For example, He hates abortion.  But releasing invective on somebody  reduces the chance they will change their views based on what we say.  The first thought that pops into your own mind is rarely the right one.  Only the Holy Spirit knows what is most likely to persuade someone.  And remember, the Lord is more concerned about the eternal destiny of that person’s soul than their current position on things political.  Are you attuned to that need in this situation?

Often, the problem with the pro-choicer is not intellectual, it is spiritual.  Only spiritual words can make a difference.  Logical arguments cannot, especially if they are spoken in frustration or vehemence.  And don’t think that you know what the other person’s spiritual problem is——only the Holy Spirit knows the true issues in someone’s life.  Besides, you should be primarily worrying about the spiritual problems in your life (Luke 6:41-42). So the next time a topic comes up, listen to the Lord and ask Him what (if anything) He wants you to say to that person.

We cannot overcome the lies of the devil in the world by getting angry and speaking harshly. In other words, the flesh is not the right weapon. Nothing good dwells there.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

Constantly, the Lord commands us to love one another, but He also said anybody can love their friends. The love you show for outsiders is the true measure of the Spirit in your life.

Let me share my own experience that shows what it looks like to let the Spirit guide my tongue.  Once my wife was upset with me and was saying all sorts of things I felt were unfair.  But instead of focusing on her words and defending myself, I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me.  As my wife continued, two words came to my mind: “hug her.”  So I did.  And as I did, I found myself saying into her ear “I bet you’re scared of that surgery next week.”  She clutched me tight and cried on my shoulder.  “Yes, that’s it” she sobbed.  All that other stuff had nothing to do with what was really going on, and the Holy Spirit knew that.  By listening to the Spirit, patience and gentleness and love and kindness and goodness and self-control all just happened on their own.

The Holy Spirit speaks in whispers.  We have to cultivate a sensitivity to Him.  And the way to do that is practice.

It starts with devotions.  Do you have daily devotions?  What makes us think we can do anything for God if we don’t spend time with Him?  We all need to ask the Holy Spirit every morning what He has in mind.  What He wants to correct in our attitude, what He wants us to do, what He wants us to say, what the answers are to the problems we are facing. 

David asked God to speak to him about faults he may have unawares: “But who can discern their own errors?  May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:12-14).  How many of us pause and ask ourselves if the things we are thinking and saying are meeting God’s expectations of us?

I know a dear Christian brother who as a young Christian struggled with a bad habit.  One day in his devotions he decided not to talk but just to listen.  (The Holy Spirit probably thought “Finally!”)  The Holy Spirit immediately put on his heart that he had lied to three of his friends and that he had to get it right.  He would rather do anything other than confess this to them but he went ahead and did it.  Afterward, he noticed the habit had just gone away.  The true root of things is rarely what we assume it to be.

Once we learn to listen to God every morning, we must learn to listen during the hustle and bustle as we go out into our day.  I know a godly Christian salesman who has learned to walk into a room and automatically tune in to what is going on there and what he needs to do and say.  Yes, that’s right, the Holy Spirit is interested in leading us in not just spiritual things, but in all things in our life.  Needless to say, this man is very successful and also does not take pride for that success, knowing it came by depending on the Holy Spirit.

We go around butting our heads against life with our situations and our relationships below par and we wonder why.  It is because we are living our lives the best way we know how.  As humans, we don’t know the best way!  His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts are higher than ours, but we aren’t depending on His voice to go about the daily things in our lives.

At any college or university you can find multiple courses on public speaking.  Does anybody teach the art of listening?  It has to be learned.  The amazing thing is the Holy Spirit can teach you how to listen to Him if you listen to Him on that subject as well.  Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t hear anything. There is a principle of waiting on the Lord, so be patient. He WILL eventually speak to you if you are serious enough to seek Him diligently:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

So pause right now and quiet yourself and ask the Holy Spirit what He wants to say to you about whatever topic He may choose.  Or, maybe ask Him a specific question. Then remain quiet until you hear Him speak.  And as you go about your life listen to Him again.  And again.  And again, and again, and again, and again . . . for the rest of your life! 

Then, at your funeral, many people will have a lot of wonderful things to say about your life——things that resulted from love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

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