The Word of God describes the fruit of the spirit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” It then goes on to say, “There is no law against these things” (Galatians 5:22-23)!
For many Christians, these nine attributes, which sound so simple, are an ideal, a way of living that remains just out of reach. They want to experience a life that is full of the love of God, His characteristics and the direction of the Holy Spirit, but past hurts, lifelong habits and daily frustrations make that seem impossible.
Thankfully, God is the God of the impossible.
As the Apostle Paul reminded us in Ephesians 3:20: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Let’s rest on that a moment. God—our God—is able to work in each of us to accomplish more than we can possibly imagine!
How is that possible?
By us taking—or possessing—the fruit of the spirit.
When we take the fruit of the spirit, we move them out of the ethereal and into the natural. We lay claim to them and understand that we have a right to have them in our lives as children of the Most High God. They are part of our covenant rights through Jesus. How do we do this? How do we take the fruit of the spirit and enjoy the effects of developing and living with that fruit on a daily basis? Let’s explore four ways to take the fruit of the spirit.
1. Go to the Source of the Fruit
Developing the fruit of the spirit comes from a relationship with the Lord. Yes, we can try to force the fruit of the spirit in our lives, but doing so will be a trying experience. We’ll struggle to keep our peace, remain faithful, live joyfully, respond in love and more. The process will be merely a work of the flesh.
Developing the fruit of the spirit becomes a natural process when we yield to the Lord. By spending time and developing a relationship with Him, appreciating how much He loves us, and understanding who He is and who He wants to be in us, we begin to yield to Jesus. That process allows us to develop a oneness with Him that results in us developing the fruit of the spirit.
2. Remove Any Blockage
When we allow the Lord to work in our lives, areas of weakness will inevitably come to light. The Lord will bring to mind areas that need His healing—offenses that must be forgiven, habits that need to be broken, and directions that we should follow. We may not even understand the reason for what the Lord tells us to do, but if we will obey Him, the results will be life-changing.
Take forgiveness. We may have every “right” to be angry about a past offense. We were quite possibly wronged in horrific ways. But Jesus wants us to move beyond the offenses. He wants us free. He knows what happened to us. He knows how we were wronged, but He isn’t asking for us to demand fairness. He’s asking for us to extend forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15).
The person we forgive may or may not receive our forgiveness. They may not even be around or alive to receive it. Yet, we still benefit because forgiveness releases us from the bondage of hatred, fear, anger and sadness. In their place, the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control—develop.
3. Put Your Fruit on the Tree
The reality is that fruit on a tree is not fruit until it’s hanging on the branches. It’s the same with spiritual fruit. We can’t claim to have fruit in our lives until we’re willing to put it on display. We don’t have the fruit of patience until we exhibit the fruit of patience. We don’t have the fruit of faithfulness until we exhibit the fruit of faithfulness.
Just as fruit on a tree starts small and grows, the fruit of the spirit must grow, too. When we develop our relationships with the Lord and remove blockages, we create a healthy spiritual environment that encourages growth.
For instance, as parents, we may naturally have short fuses. When our children disobey or respond in childish ways, our knee-jerk reaction may be to lash out verbally in anger. But as we develop our relationship with the Lord and walk in forgiveness with our children and others, a godly love begins to grow. We begin to see our children through the eyes of Jesus. We see their potential, not their failings. Will we still discipline and disciple them? Of course. But the attitude and atmosphere in which we respond to them will change. The fruit of the spirit will grow in us, and hopefully, in them, too.
4. Realize It’s All About Jesus
Taking the fruit of the spirit should be the desire of every Christian because every Christian should desire more of Jesus in their lives. As the book of Acts makes so clear: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28, KJV).
As we mentioned earlier, we can force ourselves to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, but chances are, we won’t be able to maintain them. We can force ourselves to be patient, for example, but will that result in joy or frustration? Most likely, the result will be frustration—and quite possibly high blood pressure and tension headaches.
That’s why it’s so important to allow Jesus to work in us. His presence in our lives becomes all-encompassing. His will, His thoughts, His manners become ours. It’s not about us; it’s about Him. It’s about His work in us. When we need the fruit of the spirit, it is there because Jesus is there.
Then when people say, “You’re so patient (or kind or loving or faithful or fill in the blank). How do you do it?” you can honestly respond, “It’s not me. It’s all Jesus.”
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