Several days ago I talked with TJ about his need to act and react to opposition in a God-exalting manner. My discussion quickly moved from the theoretical to practice. As I continued to exhort him, my mind was drawn to the famous “fruit of the Spirit” passage (Galatians 5:22-23). I challenged my eldest son to plead with the Spirit of God to produce His fruit through his life.
The Spirit’s Fruit Produced Through Me
Shouldn’t that be the prayer of all of God’s people?
I trust you already noticed my God-centered approach to this concept of fruit-bearing. A man-centered understanding stresses our need to obey and live out these attributes.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.
Should we obey God? Absolutely! Are we responsible for living out the Word of God on a daily basis? You know that we are! However, it is possible to do both by concentrating upon our connection with the Vine rather than what is happening on the end of the branches.
If you are a Christian, my guess is that you remember that reference. As Jesus was preparing His disciples for the trauma associated with His sufferings and death, He exhorted them to remain in intimate fellowship with Him. And even though He would be physically apart from them after His ascension, He wanted them to know that He would be accessible for power to live a life to the glory of God. Their abiding in Him would result in visible fruit to be tasted by others.
So–how do we abide in Christ in such a way that we consistently bear fruit? By the Spirit! It is by the Spirit that we put to death our sinful inclinations (Rom. 8:13) and it is by the Spirit that we walk in such a way that God is glorified and people are blessed (Rom. 8:4,5 & Gal. 5:16).
This is why I pleaded with TJ to communicate with the Holy Spirit. If my son is a believer, the Spirit dwells within him. And–that same Spirit is eager to help him honor the Lord and effectively love his neighbor. What I do not want TJ to do is to attempt to bear fruit apart from Christ. I do not merely desire for my children to be people of good moral character. Rather, I have a passion that they possess values and practices built upon the foundation of a Biblical worldview.
I want them to abide in the Vine.
I want them to walk in the Spirit.
I want them to exalt the Father.
I conclude with some thoughts to consider by Baptist theologian, John Gill. If you read carefully, you will find two definitions offered for “walk[ing] in the Spirit.”
The advice the apostle thinks fit to give, and which he would have observed, is, to “walk in the Spirit”, that is, either after the Spirit of God; making the word inspired by him the rule of behaviour, which as it is the standard of faith, so of practice, and is the lamp unto our feet, and the light unto our path; taking him himself for a guide, who not only guides into all truth, but in the way of holiness and righteousness unto the land of uprightness; and depending upon his grace and strength for assistance throughout the whole of our walk and conversation: or in the exercise of the graces of the Spirit of God; as in the exercise of faith upon the person and grace of Christ, of which the Spirit is the author; and in love to God, Christ, and one another, which is a fruit of the Spirit; and in humility, lowliness of mind, meekness and condescension; all which is to walk in the Spirit, or spiritually, and strengthens the argument for love the apostle is upon: and this he encourages to by observing (e-Sword).