In any relationship, communication is central. Husband to wife, parent to child, boss to employee, Jesus to his disciples, teacher to student, all relationships are bound by sets of expectations that are either stated or implied. Have you ever worked to please a boss who had failed to make his expectations clear? Did you feel like you were toiling in vain, never knowing if your efforts to do a good job were enough? Such failure to communicate leads to feelings of frustration and self doubt. We all benefit from clear rules and directions, and God is gracious to tell us in His word just what He wants to see in our lives; how we can bear fruit for His kingdom and be productive in our walk. First, let us say thank you, Lord! What a loving Father, that He would be so kind as to tell us clearly what is pleasing to Him. In Galatians 5:22-23, God generously gives us a list of character traits, called the fruit of the Spirit, that He would like to see grow and mature in us as we become more like Him.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is more than just a collection of traits that make us more pleasant to be around. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God plants seeds of Himself in us so that as they grow, others see Him in our lives.
Unlike spiritual gifts, the fruit of the spirit is given alike to all believers. It is up to the believer to choose to yield to the Holy Spirit by making the right choices, so that the fruit can mature. Galatians 6:7-9 tells us how the fruit of the Spirit develops in us.
A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
As we yield to and sow love, for example, we will not only reap loving acts from others, but the powerful force of love will grow inside of us and make us better witnesses of Jesus. But when Jesus commands us in Luke 10:27 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,” what exactly does that love look like? We can easily fool ourselves into thinking that we love and care for others as Jesus did, until we read the accounts of love and compassion He showed to lepers, prostitutes, sinners and even children…those whom society deems not important or worthy. He not only cared for them physically and spiritually, but he dignified them with his love. When we acknowledge that Jesus feels this way about ALL people, we can examine our hearts to see if our love for others is shallow and empty, or if it lives up to the high standard placed before us. God knows our needs as humans and is careful to give us clear directions on not only how, but why we need to love those around us, especially the un-lovable.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
How shocking it must have been to hear this particular teaching from the mouth of Jesus; this certainly contradicted the teachings of the day by the Pharisees and religious leaders who had taught that it was okay to hate your enemies and foreigners. Jesus outlines a mark of maturity in a believer; that he may grow to love, bless, do good for and pray for his enemies. How do you feel and behave toward those who persecute you? Are you allowing your spiritual fruit to grow and nourish your relationship with God and others, sending a powerful testimony to unbelievers? It is both godly and God-like to show love to your enemies, because we see that God does not limit his blessings to only His children. What an awesome God!
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Is God challenging you to grow in the area of love? Is your love for others divinely inspired, a result of the Holy Spirit doing His good work inside of you? We are urged to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. Fortunately, the word “perfect” in this circumstance is not referring to “godly perfection”, but instead means “mature, full of age, complete,” just like the perfect piece of fruit when it is ready to be pulled from the vine. Let’s pray!
We thank you for all that surrounds us, for your love.
We pray you will inspire us to look to your word for guidance
So that we may live according to the ways of those who believe in you,
We pray Lord that you enlighten our hearts with the fruit of the Spirit
As we keep walking in your footsteps.
Lord we pray for your wisdom, your ever lasting grace
And for your countless blessings bestowed upon us each day,
We ask that you continue shining your light bright upon us
And guide us to spread your gospel onto those around us.
God move our hearts and minds through your word
Help us resist temptation as we allow the Spirit to strengthen us,
Fill our hearts with the fruit of the Spirit
So that we may continue to live our lives in your favor.
Thank you all mighty God for your presence in our lives.
This message was written by Elizabeth St.Pierre