March 20, 2013
In the March 15 blog, we considered what Jesus meant when He said in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” The abundance is not in material wealth or perfect health or freedom from life’s troubles. It is a life, whether in troubles or not, that manifests the fruit of the Spirit: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22 & 23 NIV). A Christian manifesting these characteristics will have abundant life in any circumstance!
Then in the March 18 blog, I showed what I discovered comparing Ephesians 5:18-21 with Colossians 3:16-19: out of the life that is filled with the Spirit flows the same things that proceed from the life that is filled with the Word of God. Read the blog, compare the two scriptures and I believe you will agree with me that to “…be filled with the Spirit….” (Ephesians 5:18) is the same thing as letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…” (Colossians 3:16). This gem takes a lot of the confusion and mystery out of the different interpretations of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.
Now the fruit of the Spirit, it stands to reason, is manifested more and more in a life that is filled more and more with the Spirit – or the Word of God. It is the Holy Spirit that generates that fruit. By the way, it is fruit, not fruits! There are not nine fruits of the Spirit, but nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit. You don’t pick and choose which fruits you want! The Holy Spirit generates the fruit as He sees fit – and we need all nine manifestations if we are going to live life abundantly!
Get this straight; it is the Holy Spirit who generates the fruit, not you. I grew up on a Connecticut dairy farm. We had an apple orchard next to the barn where we three boys spent many hours playing. I never heard an apple tree groaning or grunting, straining to put out apples on its branches. If the tree was healthy, if it was in good soil, if there were sufficient water and sunlight, then the apples just happened! The apples were, you might say, a by-product of what was right in the life of the tree!
You don’t push and strain to produce “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”, the fruit of the Spirit just happens when the conditions in the Christian life are right! When you get richly into the Bible (and it getting richly into you), when you pray and obey – the fruit of the Spirit will happen in your life! It really is the difference between struggling and snuggling in your Christian life!
To what extent are our lives to be filled with the Holy Spirit and so with His fruit? In John 7:37-39 (NKJV), it says this:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Since Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit has been given to the Church, to believers to dwell within them producing resurrection life in them. He is the seal of their eternal life, their teacher, guide, and gifter. His gifts include the fruit of the Spirit. He is the living water Jesus spoke about in John 7:38.
But sometimes we think of that living water as bubbling deep down inside us. We think if we look deep enough into our heart and life, we can say, “Yep, there He is, the Holy Spirit residing within me!” But that’s not what Jesus said! He said, “He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” It’s like an artesian well, abundantly flowing up and out like rivers of living water! Not just a river, but rivers!
Can you imagine your life with rivers of “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” flowing out of it? Do you know anyone like that? He or she sure does seem to draw people to themselves – and to God! Such a person is a powerful witness to Jesus Christ!
It all starts with being “…filled with the Spirit…, letting “…the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom….” Then you will manifest “…the fruit of the Spirit…” and the more the fruit of the Spirit flows out of your life as “…rivers of living water…”, the more people will be drawn through you unto God.
Simple, isn’t it?