Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Two: Being Empowered.
Our reading for today: Galatians 5: 22-25 (MsgB)
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Paul continues today, in his letter to the Galatian church, on the important subject of living, as followers of Christ, in and through the Spirit of God. And basically, we find him using the same analogy for Christian discipleship that Jesus uses when He talks about Himself being the vine and we, His followers, being the branches.
Remember that one? (See John 15: 5)
You see, for those who are persistent enough to just keep hanging onto Jesus, and continually defer to the leadership of the Spirit (or as Paul puts it, “when we live God’s way”), there will be a very good thing that starts to happen in our lives! Just like a healthy branch on an apple tree produces beautiful apples, in the right time and in the right season, our lives in Christ will begin to sprout fragrant blossoms, which will then turn into juicy, ripe fruit…Kingdom fruit for the glory of God!
Paul goes on to say that this fruit, which we bear, will have different names and purposes, and even be unique in its flavor because of our unique personalities in Christ; but in the end, the results will pretty much be the same. The world around us will taste and see a big basket-full of blessings from being near us…a selection of healthy goodies that’s so impressive people just might begin to wonder how those little insignificant branches (like you or me!) could ever produce such impressive fruit!
And, of course, the answer to that question is this…
“Why, it’s Jesus and the Spirit of God that is producing this wonderful fruit in and through our broken lives!”
And don’t you absolutely love the selection of fruit Paul mentions here? Different Bible translations use different terms. The NIV lists the fruit this way: Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
Wow. One look around our world today and there certainly seems to be a pretty big shortage of these delicious fruits, don’t you think? And sadly, the draught seems to have hit the Church almost as badly as it has the un-churched world.
Hmm. Makes me think that more of us Jesus followers need to stop a lot of our self-developed, self-edifying ministries being done in the name of Jesus, and do a bit more abiding in the Vine, where the real fruit of the Spirit will have a much better chance of budding in our lives. In the long run, you see, only the Holy Spirit, working through the words and works of Jesus, can take broken and bruised branches like us and produce real fruit that will taste much better than that waxed stuff coming out of our own fleshly efforts to be good for Jesus!
But let’s not stop there. Paul goes on to say that as we allow the fruit of the Holy Spirit to flow through us, God is also strengthening us in His power as we fight that inward battle with our evil twin…the false self. That’s that old man (or woman) we talked about last time; the one who would much rather live life for selfish purposes and self-glorifying applause rather than submit to the risen Christ!
So…just think about it! A multi-purpose work of the Holy Spirit. As we prefer and defer to His leadership in our lives, we are allowing the image of Christ to be implanted deep within our DNA, changing us literally from the inside out. And then, in a way that only the magnificent Creator/King of the universe can do, that same work which is going on inside us is also producing an outward crop of fruitful blessings, which when distributed throughout the world, can touch hearts and change lives, all for greater glory of God!
Anybody ready for some real fruit? Come, Holy Spirit, come!
My prayer: Holy Spirit, here I am. I surrender myself to Your leadership, and as a branch rests and abides in the vine, I choose to allow Jesus the Christ and You, Spirit of God, to work through me as I rest and abide in You. Go deep and go wide. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So do I see any fruit of the Holy Spirit coming through my life right now, and what is it? As a branch that is fully dependent upon the life that comes from the vine, am I fully attached, abiding in Christ and allowing the work of the Holy Spirit to change me from the inside out?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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