Friday, December 16, 2011

Be Fruit-full!

When God told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful,” (Gen. 1:28), He was of course referring to having children, yet I believe He also wanted the first husband and wife to have productive lives according to His will, having dominion over all the animals.

Now that we are in the age of grace, we can also interpret “Be fruitful” to mean not only to be prolific and productive, but also to produce the fruit of the Spirit so that people know we belong to Christ by our words, our works, our attitude, and our behavior (Luke 6:43-45).

When we get married, we have on opportunity for the light of Christ to shine, not only through each of us individually, but through our new, combined family and community. For that to happen, each of the partners individually, and combined in the marriage, must have the fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:9). This will keep us from the works of the flesh, which can destroy individual lives and a marriage through evil deeds and thoughts including adultery, hatred, anger, drunkenness, etc. It is a daily battle between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal. 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We can’t work to produce the fruit of the Spirit, and it is not naturally found within us, but it flows from us when we are saved, turn away from our sin, and put our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven. Then the Holy Spirit indwells us and produces this fruit, if we yield to Him and die to our sin nature (Gal. 5:14-16).

Love refers to “agape,” the self-sacrificing love best portrayed by Christ on the cross, shedding His blood to be the perfect sacrifice and complete payment for our sins (Matt. 26:27), and God the Father giving His only begotten Son so that sinners could be reconciled to Him (John 3:16). God is love, and if we know Him, we will love one another (I John 4:7-8)

Joy in the Lord can be constant even in times of trials and tribulation, no matter what the external circumstances. As born-again believers, we have reasons to be joyful (Philippians 4:4) – God loves us; He has forgiven our sins; He allows us the privilege of prayer 24/7, He has indwelled us with the Holy Spirit; He communicates with us through His Word; He has adopted us as His children and appointed us as His ambassadors, He will return for us, and we will live eternally with Him in Heaven (1 Peter 1:5-8).

Our peace, which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven, that we are reconciled to God, that He works all things together for our good, and that we have eternal life in Him. (Romans 5:1-2)

The fruit of the Spirit we’ve spoken of so far are sweet and pleasant, but we can’t pick and choose which fruit of the Spirit we would like – they all come together when we are saved and the Holy Spirit indwells us. That’s why Paul refers to it as fruit of the Spirit, and not fruits of the Spirit. Some, like long-suffering, or patience, are not as pleasant, because they are the result of trials and tribulation (Romans 5: 3-5). But self-sacrificing love requires suffering, sometimes brought on by the one we love, or at least putting the other person’s needs ahead of our own. Self-sacrificing, agape love is patient, kind, seeking to meet the needs of the other person, always thinking the best of the other person, not expressing anger, being constant through all circumstances. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

The Greek word for gentleness in Galatians 5:22 is the same word which is translated kindness in 2 Corinthians 6:6. It means goodness, wanting to please others and to be pleased with what they do, mildness of temper, calmness of spirit, not easily flustered, polite, always putting the needs of others before your own (2 Corinthians 10:1, Psalm 18:35).

Goodness is another fruit of the Spirit expressing doing good for others, spiritually by educating them in the Word, and meeting their physical needs also (Romans 15:1-4; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 107:9).

Faith is the belief we must have in order to be saved and in order to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Our faith is in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, the perfect, holy sacrifice to pay for all our sins. In Galatians 5:22, the word “faith” also refers to trustworthiness, keeping your word and promises, keeping the secrets or confidences of others. God is faithful to keep His Word and His promises, and He is faithful and unchanging in His love for us, and we should strive to do the same (Psalm 119:90; Isaiah 25:1).

Believers are meek because their power and destiny are based on the indwelling Holy Spirit, not on their own strength, status, or circumstances (Matthew 5:5). Paul tells the believers that to be good ambassadors for Christ, they should be humble and meek, patient toward one another, and putting up with each other’s faults (Ephesians 4:1-2)

As Christians we have access to all the wisdom and power of God within us through the Holy Spirit, but when others ask us about it, we must answer meekly, not showing off that power, but sharing the truth with humility and love (1 Peter 3:15). Jesus could have summoned legions of angels to rescue Him from the cross and to destroy His enemies, but instead He went meekly like a sheep led to the slaughter.

If a wife who is saved is married to an unsaved husband, He may become saved through her meekness. He may see Christ in her not through displays of power, but because she lives a sanctified life, is submissive to the will of God and of her husband, and puts her husband's needs ahead of her own (1 Peter 3:1-4). In marriage, as in life, submission to the one in authority does not diminish our power but confirms it, and is pleasing to God.

Temperance means power or control over the sin nature, including tendencies toward sexual immorality, drinking alcohol, using other intoxicating substances, angry outbursts, and overindulgence. Galatians 5:23 says “Against such there is no law,” meaning that we will never get in trouble by using too much self-control. Temperance is a stepping stone to patience, godliness, and self-sacrificing love (2 Peter 1: 5-8).

All the fruit of the Spirit represent qualities of Jesus Christ Himself. The 9 words emphasize different aspects of these qualities, but they are all interrelated and based on self-sacrificing love. Similarly, all the names of God emphasize His different attributes, but they all describe the same God. When we are saved, all these qualities enter our heart through the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we don’t always show these qualities because our sin nature fights against them.

In marriage as in life, we will show the fruit of the Spirit if we die to self and yield to the Holy Spirit, loving God and loving one another, doing His will and putting the needs of the other person ahead of our own. In a Christ-centered marriage, the wife can submit to her husband because the husband loves her completely and with a spirit of self-sacrifice.

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.

28 comments:

  1. Two years ago I had a boyfriend, who was Agnostic - his family was Catholic. I loved him, but many people from my church was talking to me, that this kind of love can't be for long time. They were right. After few months I discovered, that he had cheated me, in small things, but they were important. And I thought, that if he cheats me in small things, what will be with bigger? And we splited up.
    Greetings and blessigns for You.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Zim, Thanks for sharing your story. God is what defines right and wrong, so how can someone who does not know God know how to do right? It is impossible without the indwelling Holy Spirit.
    Christmas greetings and God's blessings to you, dear friend!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thankyou for your comments of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. I find this helpful. Many a time I have read those words in Paul's letter without full realising what some of those words really mean.
    Wishing you a happy Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Frank, Thanks for your comment -- I'm glad you found this helpful. It was an enlightening study for me also as I prepared it.
    May you have a happy Christmas and blessed 2012!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was a wonderful post. You have done a great job of describing the fruits of the Spirit in relationship with marriage. I wonder if married Christians studied these scriptures in light of what you have written here, would the divorce statistics still remain as high as in the secular world?
    ~God Bless & Merry CHRISTmas~
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  6. Laurie, what you are talking about here is a point of confusion with many Christians today. Some people people think we must produce these fruits by our own efforts, and try to love or be humble, etc. They don't understand that the Holy Spirit produces a new attitude, not just changed behavior. We can no more produce Spiritual fruit by our own effort than we can make an apple.

    Others think of spiritual fruit as the gifts of the Spirit, divided up among Christians as needed, not realizing that, as you pointed out they are not fruits, but part of the one fruit.

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Lisa, Thanks so much for your encouraging comment. Secular counseling focuses on self, not on Him, and as long as 2 people are focused on themselves, they cannot attain that self-sacrificing union that only comes through the Spirit.
    May you and yours have a truly blessed Christmas in Him!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dear dfish, Thanks as always for your kind words and especially for sharing your insights. To yield to the Spirit and experience His fruit we must first die to self and to our sin nature, which is painful. But if we get out of His way, He will work mightily through us.
    God's blessings to you and yours for Christmas and for 2012!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, Laurie - I am so appreciative of this comprehensive walk through the fruit of the Spirit. In these difficult times I'm especially contemplating the less sweet but no less important fruits -- thank you for reminding me of the necessity of those, too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, Michelle, for your kind comment and for following! The fruit of the Spirit is more like a "prix fixe" meal than a buffet -- we can't pick and choose, but we partake of all together as we yield to Him.
    May you and your family have a blessed Christmas full of love and peace,
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  11. So much good stuff here, Laurie! You have me contemplating how the fruit of the Spirit are manifested in my life. Wonderful post.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Laura, Thanks so much! I really appreciate your encouragement. Wishing you and yours love, joy, and peace in Him at Christmas and until He comes again!

    ReplyDelete
  13. We can't have the fruit of the Spirit without having the Spirit. Thank you, Laurie, for sharing this thought provoking post.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Charlotte,
    Thank you for your encouragement! May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and joyful 2012!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  15. Unfortuntatly, I think marriage is sometimes the hardest place to portray the fruits of the spirit...but it is where we are to start.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Laura, I just lost everything I wrote in response to your beautiful & informative post, but just want to get in some appreciation quickly before I hit the wrong key again! You always explain things so beautifully and with a peaceful spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Shanda,
    How true -- no one (except God) knows us better than our spouse and children because they see us more overall and during trials. So they are more likely to suffer from our sin nature in those moments that it wins out over the Spirit. That is why we must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) each day, with prayer, so that we can yield to the Spirit and resist Satan.
    Thank you as always for your comment, and may you and your family be richly blessed this Christmas and beyond!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  18. Dear myevidentfaith,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to post a comment again after your first comment was lost! Satan loves to steal the kind words we send each other -- it's happened to me several times, where I write a comment from the heart only to have a computer glitch take it away. Thank you so much for persevering -- your kind words and encouragement are a real blessing to me, and so deeply appreciated.
    Wishing you and yours Christmas peace, love and joy!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post explaining in depth the Fruit of the Spirit! Also, I'm glad you added Eph. 5:22! The word "submit" has had such a bad wrap in our generation. God never intended for women to feel used or tread upon. Instead, it was His plan for us to be loved and cared for by godly husbands whom we also respect. I think that if more couples allowed God to be the center of their lives and marriage, there would be far less divorce...plus, who couldn't have a happy marriage with God at its center? =)

    Blessings to you this Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks, Joan, for sharing your insights! The Women's Libbers really did women a disservice by implying that a Christ-centered marriage with Biblically-defined roles was somehow demeaning to women, when it is just the opposite. Yet the same Women's Libbers are strangely silent about the atrocities visited on Muslim women whose husbands, or elders in the community are following Sharia law.

    May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas, and all blessings in 2012!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  21. Laurie, you have highlighted an important---and sometimes difficult-- part of scripture. Thank you and have a lovely Christmas.
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

    ReplyDelete
  22. Stopping by from Thought Provoking Thursday and am so glad I did! Wonderful job encapsulating the fruit of the spirit.
    "Joy in the Lord can be constant even in times of trials and tribulation, no matter what the external circumstances"
    This is something God has been teaching me as of late. What a blessing!!!!
    Merry Christmas to you
    ~Nikki

    ReplyDelete
  23. Dear Barb, Thanks so much for your encouragement. May you and yours experience all the love, joy and peace of Christmas throughout the year!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dear Nikki, Thanks so much for your visit and for your kind words! Joy in Him is sweet even when we experience the sour taste of trials, which is tempered by patience. Merry Christmas, and may your 2012 be filled with many blessings and much joy!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  25. Marriage certanly is a school to practise and learn these attributes of God's divine nature.
    The Holy Spirit empowers us to live them out and gives us a taste of heaven itself when we do so!
    Thanks for this great explanation and encouragement to walk in the gifts of the Spirit!
    God bless you Laurie and thanks for linking to LACE.
    Have very blessed Christmas!
    Trish

    ReplyDelete
  26. Laurie - I enjoyed reading your post on the fruit of the Spirit. I wrote a series this past summer on each of the nine aspects of the fruit (taking real life situations and applying Galatians 5:22-23 to them). I realize that unless we are abiding in the vine, apart from Him, we can do nothing. It is through Him we will bear much fruit.

    Blessings to you and I wish you and your family a joyous Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dear Trish, Thanks for your kind comment and for sharing your insights! Praise God that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, allowing each of us access to His attributes if we can die to self. That is the only way we can even begin to live for the other person instead of for ourselves.
    May God bless you, your ministry and your family, and may you have a joyous Christmas and New Year!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  28. Dear Joan,
    That sounds like a great series you wrote! I'll try to find it on your blog. Every day I remind myself that without Him, I can do nothing, but that with Him, all things are possible.
    Merry Christmas and God's blessings to you and yours!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete