We Need God’s Spirit to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

We Need God’s Spirit to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:3

One of my favorite stories of the late pastor Chuck Smith is from one of the pastors in the group he discipled as the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel first started.

This pastor said that in their weekly meetings, they would often ask pastor Chuck if there was any concern weighing on his heart that he was praying for regarding the church and especially the leaders in the church.

His response was always the same: he was most concerned that they would one day begin to work in the flesh and not in the Spirit.

Out of all of the things that he could be troubled over during this time of massive revival and spiritual transformation in people, his greatest concern was to make sure that everything he did was by the grace and leading of God’s Spirit rather than his own efforts.

We would do well to have this same healthy concern for ourselves,
especially when it comes to producing the fruit of the Spirit within our lives.

The temptation to do it on our own

When you consider the fruit of the Spirit, do you think some are easier than others?

(as a reminder, the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)

Even non-Christians who do not have the Spirit of God can be considered peaceful people.
Or patient
And so on.

This is because although none of us are perfect, we are still made in God’s image and reflect pieces of Him, regardless of how broken we are.

And this brings the temptation to rely on our own “goodness” in areas we are “naturally” bent towards. Maybe you are more bent towards being joyful, or patient with people. Maybe your personality leads itself to being faithful or disciplined.

It’s easy to think that we don’t really need God to help us in those areas; we’ve got them covered.

However, God’s Word tells us that it’s impossible to truly please God without faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6) and that even our good works, without His grace, are like dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6).

I think we all see our shortcomings clearly. Maybe you are someone who grows impatient quickly, or who finds it hard to be gentle. It is easy to see that we need God’s Spirit to fill us to empower us to be those things.

But the danger is found in the things we naturally do better.
They lead us to thinking we don’t need God’s help.
They lead to a prideful heart, which God opposes above all else.

We need God’s Spirit for every part of our character

Whether a godly character trait comes “easy” or not, we need to realize our complete need for God’s Spirit to bear the fruit in our lives that only He can do.

As Jesus reminded us in John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all”.

So may we rest fully on God’s Spirit for His character to be grown in our hearts and lives, and may we never begin to try to “perfect in the flesh” what was “begun in the Spirit.”

God has started this good work in our hearts and lives; and He has promised to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

So let us let Him do it.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—” – Philippians 3:3

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

If you missed the any of the fruits of the Spirit posts, you can check them out at the links below:

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Love
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

Self-control is probably the least “flashy” of all of the fruits of the Spirit, but it’s necessary for spiritual growth, in that the other fruits of the Spirit kind of rely on self-control.

Do you want to experience the fullness of spiritual growth and maturity that Jesus has for you?

It begins and ends with His Spirit empowering you to have self-control.

Self-control in showing love, even when it’s hard
Self-control in seeking joy in difficult times
Self-control in pursuing peace in the midst of hardship
Self-control in choosing patience when you don’t want to wait
Self-control to be kind when it would be easier to fight back
Self-control to be good when you want to go against God’s goodness
Self-control to stay faithful when you want to give up
Self-control to be gentle when it would be easier to be harsh.

If you remember, we began with the first fruit of the Spirit: love (which you can read about at this link. In that first post, I mentioned how many consider love to be the overarching discipline which is then “flushed out” in deeper description through the rest of the fruits of the spirit.

Likewise, self-control is the summation of what needs to happen in our lives to begin this journey of bearing these fruits of the Spirit.

In other words:
Without the first step of self-control, we will not bear any of the other fruits of the Spirit.

God’s Spirit and grace

By emphasizing the importance of self-control, I’m by no means saying that this is up to you to accomplish all of these things. I’m merely pointing out the order of experiencing the fruits of God’s Spirit in our lives: Before we can have God’s love, joy, peace, patience, etc. flow our from our lives, we must first experience God’s Spirit to bring self-control to our hearts and lives.

Which is why Paul emphasizes this in his words to Timothy when he wrote:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

God gives us power
And love
And self-control
So that, by His Spirit, we may be transformed to be more like Him and bear the fruit of His character and Spirit.

The blessing of self-control

Before we ask God to give us more self-control and grace in our everyday lives, I thought it would be important to reflect on the blessing of living a disciplined life.

And, in many ways, it simply results in a more enjoyable life.

For example, you are able to enjoy and live life without being as tossed about by the difficult people and challenging situations you experience in life.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32

By self-control, you are able to stay away from and resist the things that are not good for you (though they seem good at the time) and that God desires to protect you from.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

And, by self-control, you can enjoy pursuing the direction and life that God has created for you to live.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24–25

The blessings that come into our lives from self-control are undeniable.

It brings peace to our everyday lives
It keeps us from the sin and temptations that can easily bring our lives pain
And it draws us near to the good plan and purpose that God has for our lives.

All from God’s Spirit providing us self-control in our everyday lives.

Embrace the blessing

Just like the rest of the fruits of the Spirit, nothing can be done from our own effort.

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:3

We need the grace and Spirit of God to bring self-control to our lives in a way that only He can.

So, let us continue to pray for His Spirit to empower and guide us so that we may bear the fruit of His Spirit each and every day.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:3–8

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” – Titus 2:11–12

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;” – 1 Timothy 4:7

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness

I don’t know about you, but gentleness is not one of the first things I think of when I consider God’s character.

But it was gentleness that caused children to love coming to Jesus
It was gentleness that made “sinners” feel comfortable in His presence
And it is gentleness that allows the Church to be a refuge for the hurting and those far from God.

Gentleness is such a cornerstone of Jesus’ character that Paul wrote…

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” – Philippians 4:5

And, our gentleness is seen most clearly in the most difficult of interpersonal circumstances.

Gentleness towards opposition

In life, we face opposition towards our beliefs and life choices every day, and Christians are no exception. Most people oppose what God says about our lives and how to live and so a Christian will meet opposition to the truth of God on a daily basis.

But we are told to be gentle towards opposition.

A classic verse you may have heard before reads:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Being gentle in opposition has a calming effect that can even help resolve the matter more effectively and quickly.

But we are not told to be gentle purely to help win arguments, God desires us to win souls, which is is why Paul wrote to Timothy and said:

“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” – 2 Timothy 2:24–25

Have you considered that your gentleness may be the reason someone turns to Jesus years down the road?

I have personally experienced this and it is mind-blowing.

I went through a period of intellectual evangelism where I learned all the right answers and had all the right verses, but I didn’t see people consider them as much as I expected.

During that same time, I had a few experiences in particular where I feel like I had poor answers and incomplete thoughts, but I know they deeply understood my care towards them. And, years later, they approached me and told me what a profound impact our conversations had and how they felt my compassion and care… my gentleness… and that is what “won” them over.

Not logic or verses,
But someone, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, embodying Jesus’ truth and gentleness, has a powerful gospel impact.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t study and learn and know the right things to say.

But it is far more important to bring God’s gentleness, God’s love, God’s kindness and the other fruits of the Spirit to those around us, so that they may see a glimpse of God’s fullness and seek Him to experience even more.

Rest for the soul

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus embodied gentleness so that children and sinners alike felt completely at home with Him.

He called them out of their sin and to a life surrendered to God,
But He did so in a way that left people knowing how much He cared.

Jesus even said of Himself:

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29

“Rest for your souls.” I think that’s a great way to describe a gentle spirit.

Someone who refreshes and brings rest to those around them.

And, just as Jesus has done that for us, He has called us to bring His gentleness to others. And, this isn’t an afterthought. Just as we have been called to make disciples and share the Gospel, we have been called to gentleness, as Paul reminds us in Ephesians to…

“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness…”

May we walk in the high calling.
May we be refreshing and life-giving to those around us
May we be like Jesus
May we be gentle.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” – Ephesians 4:1–2

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” – 1 Timothy 6:11

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of those foundational character trades that is necessary for a godly life.

Just think about it: faithfulness is staying constant, loyal, steadfast, honest.

Without faithfulness, every other character trait will fall apart.

God’s faithfulness to us

Because of how foundational faithfulness is to the rest of a person’s character, I thought it would be important to remind ourselves how faithfulness is a core characteristic of God.

That God is faithful no matter what.

That His Word stands true
His promises won’t fail
And if it looks like God hasn’t kept HIs promise
You know that He’s not done yet.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22–23

I’m not saying it will never feel like He’s unfaithful
I’ve felt that many times.

But we have to choose to act and live our lives trusting and believing that He truly is faithful.

The call to live faithfully

There are many places in the Bible that tell us how we are being molded in God’s image and lists specific traits such as the call to “Be Holy even as He is Holy,” but in the case of faithfulness, it’s more indirect.

We learn of God’s faithfulness throughout all of scripture, and then we also find scripture calling us to remain faithful as well.

What is interesting is that our call to faithfulness isn’t one where we’re told to be faithful because it’s simply good to do, but in response to and confidence in God’s faithfulness to sustain, empower, reward and transform us.

For example…

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Throughout the Bible we see God’s hand tied into our transformation to be more like Him – including us becoming faithful as He is faithful.

Rest in His faithfulness and be filled by His Spirit to be faithful to Him

As I’ve written for each of these posts, our faithfulness comes from and is empowered by His grace and power. So, let’s reflect on and rest in God’s faithfulness and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit so that we may reflect Him more, as we were made to do.

Let us pray to be faithful in…

And to be the people we were created to be.

God’s faithfulness

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” – Deuteronomy 7:9

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.” – Psalm 33:4

“if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,” – 1 Chronicles 16:15

Our call to faithfulness

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” – Matthew 25:21

“Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” – 1 Corinthians 4:2

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness

I think one of the move vidid descriptions of God’s goodness, outside of the Bible, is found in the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia series:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”
…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Our God isn’t safe,
Our God isn’t frail,
But our God is completely good.

I like this snippet from the Narnia series because it reminds us that goodness isn’t a character trait that also brings weakness – which is a common mis-association.

Goodness when it’s difficult

Goodness is simply “the quality of being morally good or virtuous” – even when it’s difficult.

Because sometimes it’s easy to do what’s right and it’s even popular…
Othertimes it’s difficult, but you still get recognition for it…
But there are even be times where being morally good and virtuous is not only difficult on its own, but you will be ostracized for it.

And Jesus knows this better than anyone.

The perfect embodiment of goodness.

Yet He was abandoned throughout His life for His Message.

The religious leaders wanted nothing to do with Him
Many used Him simply as a miracle maker, but wouldn’t heed His teaching
Others called Him crazy and ignored Him altogether
And during His most difficult hour on the cross, He was abandoned by even His closest followers and friends
(not to mention that one of them betrayed Him)

Yet, throughout all of HIs life, Jesus remained good. Perfect.

And, so, we can certainly look to Jesus as our example.

One who withstood all trials and pains and overcame them all.

But even more than that, we can look to Jesus as our Savior Who gives us His Spirit to empower us to live like Him.

Empowered for goodness

Goodness is one of those traits that really reveals our shortcomings. When I think about my own “goodness”, I am so clearly reminded of how short I come of perfection.

But that’s why Jesus and His Gospel (Good News) is so good for us!

Because Jesus wasn’t merely an example. He is also our Savior, Who gives us new life and empowers us to be transformed into His image.

Jesus not only saved us from our sins (Romans 5:6, Acts 2:38, Ephesians 2:8, 1 John 1:7, Hebrews 10:14, Isaiah 53:5)
But Jesus also provides us His Spirit, through His sacrifice on the cross, to be empowered to become more like Him, as we live by His grace and His strength (Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 2:24).

By His grace

Just like all the other fruits of the Spirit, the most important thing to remember is that this is fruit that comes from the Spirit of Jesus.

So, instead of simply trying harder to reflect God’s perfect goodness, let’s surrender to His grace and ask Him to live through us.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22–23

The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness

“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

I think most of us tend to take this route in life.

It’s easy when we’re younger to be mesmerized by the charismatic, the smart, the gifted, those with status, etc.

But, as we get older, and we begin seeing the fleeting reality of all I listed above, our values and role models begin to shift.

And the more we value simple, godly characteristics such as kindness.

The Embodiment of Kindness

It can sound strange that kindness is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

It sounds so lowly and insignificant.

But check out the definition:
“The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

That sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t it?

Jesus was friendly and approachable even by children
Jesus was generous with His words, possessions and actions
And Jesus was considerate and allowed the needs of others to be put above His own.

This really is the trifecta that embodies kindness.

Missing just one of these characteristics leads to a stool with less than its indented 3 legs to stand on.

Seeking Kindness In Everyday Life

“Cleanliness is close to godliness.”

Not really, but what we’ve seen is that being kind is close to godliness.

To grow in friendliness
To be more generous
And to be more considerate and think of others as more important than ourselves.

This is close to godliness.

This is the life and fruit that God desires us to have.

So, take the extra time to show some unexpected kindness.
Consider where you can be more generous in your money, talents and time.
And seek to put other’s before yourself.

And do so by His grace and strength.

As we’re reminded in Philippians 2:1–11:

Jesus lived kindness.
He lived love.
He lived perfection.

And now, He has paid the price for our sin,
And gives us the power, by His Spirit,
To have Him transform us to be more like Him.

And one day, we will be with Him forever.

So as we look forward to heaven,
Let’s ask Jesus to instill His kindness into our hearts,
And let us be kind to others the way Jesus is.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” – Colossians 3:12

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:8–9

“A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” – Proverbs 11:16–17

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” – Proverbs 21:21

““Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another.” – Zechariah 7:9

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