Hello lovely readers! This is Cara, Evan’s wife, popping in. So far I’ve only been behind the scenes on this blog, editing my husband’s posts and books (so when you find typos, I’m clearly not doing my job too well)! Today, though, I’m making a guest appearance for you all because the Lord put something on my heart to share with people years ago, but I never had a platform to do so. I felt that it would be a good topic for a small group study or something like that, and I just never had the chance to make it happen. When I told Evan he should write about this topic on his blog because it’s something I’ve felt the desire to share for a long time, he told me that as editor I have the ability to publish posts as well. So here I am! I greatly appreciate Evan’s support and willingness to share his blog for me to write what’s on my heart. I’m telling you all, he doesn’t do this for popularity or to be in the spotlight. He does it because he has so much to share, so much that God puts on his heart and in his mind, and God has given him a beautiful gift of discernment and wisdom. So he gladly told me I could make this little guest appearance because he wants this blog to encourage people in truth, and I hope I can add to that today. So here we go!
The Fruit of the Spirit
Let me just start by saying this: I love how the Bible is for everyone. Do you need direct, clear “do this, don’t do that” answers? The Bible has that. Do you need examples so you can see exactly how to apply what you just read? It has that, too. Do you like poetry and prose full of various literary elements? Read the Psalms and Proverbs. Do you prefer straight-forward, no-nonsense text? Read anything Paul wrote. Do you like parables and analogies? Read pretty much any story told by Jesus. Point is, the Bible was written by many different authors to give God’s word to every kind of person. For example, here is the passage we’re focusing on for this topic:
'Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.' (ESV)
It doesn’t get much more straight-forward than this. Here is a list of the things of the flesh. Here is a list of the things of the Spirit. Want to belong to Christ? Kill the things of the flesh. Live by the Spirit by bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Cool, got it. Makes sense. If you prefer examples and stories and parables, the Bible has that for this passage, too. We’ll get to that later though.
Much like Evan’s very first post, W.W.J.D., this post is about diving into a topic that most Christians and others who grew up in church know pretty well but has become a nearly meaningless cliché. The thing is, the fruit of the Spirit answers the question “what would Jesus do”? It is Jesus. It is the Gospel. It is Christianity. As Christians, we cannot disregard it.
This topic was rekindled for me last year as I was reading Blessed are the Misfits by Brant Hansen. I strongly recommend it. Brant touches on the fruit of the Spirit in his book as he’s writing about what comes out of us when life shakes us up a bit. I’ve heard so many great illustrations for this concept, one being that we’re all cups full of something. When the cup gets shaken, something will spill over the rim. What is it? When life hits you, shakes you up, or bumps you a little, what spills out of your cup? What is inside? Is it the things of the flesh and of this world, or is it the fruit of the Spirit? In his book, Brant gives some examples of what came out of Jesus when he was shaken up. It got me thinking, that’s exactly what’s supposed to come out of us because we’re supposed to look like Jesus. And that phrase “look like Jesus” isn’t talking about outward appearance (especially since I think our culture has some very skewed ideas about what Jesus looked like). Obviously I don’t physically, outwardly look like Jesus since I’m a fairly tiny white woman living in the USA in the 21st century. No, the Bible calls us to look like Jesus on the inside, meaning that the things that spill out of us when we get shaken up should be the same things that spilled out of Jesus when He was shaken up.
I was inspired by Brant Hansen to share examples of Jesus so we know how to bear the fruit of the Spirit. This is what should come out of us in tough situations. In 1 John 2:6, the Bible says, "whoever says he abides in [Jesus] ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." (ESV) That is how we look like Jesus, how we walk with the Spirit, how we bear the right fruit.
Well, this post got way longer than I anticipated. So, consider this the introduction! The fruit of the Spirit posts are to be continued... My plan now is to make a post for each fruit (or maybe cover two or three per post) with examples from Jesus, stories, parables, etc. like I mentioned earlier. There are nine "fruits" mentioned in the passage in Galatians 5, so you all have to put up with me for at least a few more posts! Yikes... Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!