Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You may recognize this list as the “fruits of the Spirit” taken from Galatians 5. To put it simply, these should be the characteristics of those who believe in Christ. Something amazing happens whenever you give your life to Christ; the Holy Spirit lives in you. That’s right, God dwells in all of those who have placed their faith in Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” This truly is an amazing thing and something that we cannot fully comprehend. This should blow our minds every time we hear that truth. It is nothing short of amazing that God chooses to abide in any one of us. Thank God that he gives us what we do not deserve.
An interesting thing about the fruits of the Spirit is that most of them are about how we are to treat others. We are to treat all people with love, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness. The three that pertain to us are peace, joy, and self-control. Which, those are things that will come through us in how we deal with others. So really, the only one that isn’t about how we interact with people is faithfulness, and that one pertains to how we are to interact with God. The fruits of the Spirit aren’t about us; they are about us showing the world the God who lives in us.
Something that I have been seeing a lot in the world lately is many folks who profess to believe in Jesus being some of the most negative, unkind people around. Every conversation that they have is a complaint about something or them castigating somebody. They are like a constant rain cloud. They have become more about putting people down than lifting Christ up. I’m not talking about someone who is having a momentary fit of anger, sadness, jealousy, self-importance, judgementalism, or the like. We all do that from time to time. We are human, and our worldly side is always at battle with the Spirit that lives in us. We will never get it perfect until we reach heaven. What I am referring to is those whose most consistent qualities are those which go against the list that began this post.
I am not saying that these people do not believe in Christ. I am far too unqualified to make such declarations. If I am being honest, I have found myself being one of these people that I am writing about many times as well. What I think happens when we become like that is that we have gotten our priorities out of whack. We have become too focused on stuff that truly does not matter in the grand scheme of things. We become more concerned with what is happening in our little kingdoms than growing God’s kingdom. Someone has offended us, something in life hasn’t gone our way, our plans fell through, others aren’t acting how we desire, etc. Then, we begin to dwell on it. Negativity is like a black hole. It will suck every bit of joy and the other fruits out of our lives. Before we know it, we are no longer treating people the way in which we were called. We are no longer drawing them to Christ through our words and deeds, but we are turning them away from the one who came to save them.
I have seen a quote going around social media, but I don’t know who originally said it. It goes, “Sometimes the most effective witness for Christ is that people know that you’re a Christian, and you don’t act like a jerk.” We are not living by the Spirit any time that we treat people negatively. I am not saying that you must agree with everyone or condone what they’re doing. All I am saying is that disagreement does not give anyone permission to mistreat someone. Do you think Jesus agreed with everyone to whom he showed love and kindness? Do you think he agreed with the woman caught in adultery? What about Zacchaeus the tax collector? What about Jairus (the pharisee whose daughter he saved)? What about Judas? What about you? What about me? Agreement is not a prerequisite to treat someone with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. There are no caveats before or after that list. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and read Galatians 5.
We are called to love people and tell them about Jesus. After that, our work is done. Everything else is up to the Holy Spirit. We cannot save anyone; that is strictly God’s department. All that we can do is put the fruits of the Spirit on display when we are interacting with others. The world is already filled with vile and hatred. Everyone, including you, gets too much of that as is. We, as Christians, should not be adding to the problem. We should be showing people that we are different because God loves us, Christ died for us, and the Holy Spirit now lives in us, and they are invited into that salvation as well. We need to keep our priorities in line. God and his kingdom come first. Everything else is a distant second, at best. It is when we put God at the top and allow the Spirit to display himself through us that we will be most impactful in showing the world that Jesus loves them and gave his life for them.
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