The Not-So-Fruity Fruit of the Spirit

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Spiritual Growth
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The ability to produce the fruit of the Spirit on a continual basis relieves fear and releases confidence for every good work. This kind of power is far from “fruity.” We usually think of the fruit of the Spirit as the feel good gumdrops and lollipops of the faith rather than the essential weapons of our warfare that they are. The fruit of the Spirit is what will naturally come out of us when we are tapped into the vine of the Spirit of God. God is so amazing in that he uses “soft” weaponry to combat our mortal enemies.

An amazing teacher who knows Greek and Hebrew, Steve Carpenter, asserted that the list of the fruit of the Spirit in scripture came in pairs, all except self-control, and that this is how we should look at them. I do not pretend to speak Greek and Hebrew, so I will go with what he says and present them in this way.

Love and Joy vs Offense and Depression

Just imagine being perfected in love to such an extent that you no longer fear being offended or being wronged. If you have come to such a place to where forgiveness is extended even before there is a wrong that needs forgiveness, that is when you really begin to live. This is truly life on a higher plane. Such abandonment and joy can come when we are not carefully watching for who crosses us or counting others’ sins against them. The freedom that comes from a continual release of forgiveness can be exhilarating. No wonder the Psalmist declares that the joy of the Lord is also the source of strength. Not only does this love and joy bring life to your spirit, but also health to your bones.

Peace and Patience vs. Anxiety and Impatience

It seems appropriate to think of peace as though we were riding a wave. It is easy enough to slip off, but once we have mastered the art of riding it, we are able to conquer anything. Since we are forced to live in the bounds of time, there is an continual ebb and flow of life. There are ups and downs, harmony and conflict, times for everything under the sun. The times when we lose our peace or patience is when we try to jump to the next wave before facing the first. If we can learn to embrace and anticipate our challenges when they come, we will be more apt to keep our cool. The slightest alteration of our position can cause our whole equilibrium to get out of whack and we can “wipe out.” I have, at times, wiped out, when it would have been far easier and more effective to take a breath and ride it out. Why do we always think that working harder is always better? The work is to get on the wave of peace, then maintaining it only requires continual focus. Remember that Peter suddenly sank when he removed his eyes from the focus of Jesus? If I am able to remain peaceful in every situation, I am no longer bound by the things that bind humankind. In a sense, I am able to walk on water.

Kindness and Goodness vs. Selfishness and Vanity

Kindness requires looking outside yourself to see others. When I looked up the original words for kindness and goodness in the Greek, the definitions mirrored each other. So, I guess kindness and goodness are two sides to the same coin. If you have goodness, it will express itself in kindness. And if you find a kind person, there you will find goodness.

People are unkind when they are only thinking of themselves, not seeing the needs of others. We have a natural tendency from the time we are born to think that the earth and all the planets revolve around “me.” The Spirit of God is the only thing that can free us from this type of vanity. When we fall in love with Jesus, the Spirit of the One on whom we have set our affections will cause our eyes to be opened to the world around us, to others who are worthy of our attention and our service. Kindness and goodness have eyes to see. They see needs with a heart of redemption and grace. They see and they act based on the nature and character of God. Any time you see with God’s eyes, you can safely respond from that perspective.

Faithfulness and Gentleness vs. Instability and Volatility

I always thought of faithfulness as something different from faith, but when I looked up the original word, I found that “faith” was actually a more accurate translation in this case. It was the same word that is referred to when the faith of Father Abraham is mentioned in the New Testament.

Faith is grounding yourself in something immovable. It is as though you are anchoring yourself to truth and not letting go. If we have no faith we are, as James describes, “blown and tossed by the wind.” The faithful remain though circumstances around them may shift and crumble. How does faith make us gentle? Well, the opposite of gentleness is rudeness or a volatility that can be set off at any moment. If we lack faith, we are easily set off to react rather than respond. The gentle respond from a place of internal resolve to have their hearts firmly planted in faith. The rude or rash react from a gut level place of anxiety because their feet are on shifting ground. “And without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Self-Control vs. Licentiousness

Self-control is what ties the virtues together. It gives us the power to say no to the lusts of the sinful man. Being made in the image of God, he grants us this amazing power of free will. There are times when I’m sure we wish we could just be automatons and that the Lord would take full control of our bodies so that we would not have a choice but to follow him. I know I have prayed prayers to this effect. But there is something God finds much more pleasing: the heart that is willfully choosing each day to submit itself to the control of the Spirit. He give us the right to control ourselves. We have more authority over ourselves than we realize. You can actually command yourself to do something and then obey yourself. This is the power he has given to his loved ones by his Spirit. We do not have to allow ourselves license to do anything we want. Self-control is not a kill joy. Self-control actually gives us power and focus, causing us to succeed in all we do.


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