Last Sunday, I preached about our freedom to choose and how we need to keep choosing freedom and choosing to live by the Spirit, rather than following our natural inclinations (see Galatians 5). I challenged our congregation to spend some time thinking about the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 and to rate how evident each one is in their lives. It is a challenging exercise – one that certainly convicted me. As I looked at the list of the fruit of the Spirit, in other words, the things the Spirit of God produces in the outflow of our lives when He lives within us, I had to admit that many of those things are not very apparent in me right now. Paul lists nine things that our lives should display if God’s Spirit really lives within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I wonder, how are you doing in terms of these things right now?
We are reminded that although we can’t really choose our emotions, we can choose how we will react to things that happen and how we will live out our days. We have to keep choosing the fruit of the Spirit, to be loving, even when we don’t feel loving or that people are really worthy of love. We have to choose joy and to focus on the things God has done for us and the promises we have in Him, regardless of our circumstances. We can choose to be patient, to be kind and to fill the world with goodness and purity. Today, choose to be faithful. Choose gentleness instead of brashness or being prickly or edgy. Choose self-control, asking the Spirit of God to help you speak wisely and act in accordance with His will.
The fruit of the Spirit should be evident in the life of the Christ-follower. Sometimes we get so caught up in what is right and what is wrong and in theological arguments, but at the end of the day, what matters is faith expressing itself in love (Galatians 5:6). What matters is how we are becoming like Jesus and reflecting His character to the world.
I challenge you to spend some time praying about the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Which one is glaringly absent and do you need to work on? Invite the Spirit to fill you again and to let His fruit become more and more established in your life.