Week of January 20
Hang In There
By Skip Heitzig
I once had a friend who taught his pet parrot to say “Praise the Lord!” It was entertaining, but I didn’t think, “Now, that’s a spiritual bird!” No, the bird had just been taught to say the words. “Praise the Lord!” had no more meaning to that parrot than “Polly wanna cracker.”
Anyone can say spiritual words. But what does it mean to be a spiritual person? I don’t think you can tell by what a person says as much as by what he does.
To be spiritual according to the Bible is to believe in the one true God, and more than that, to be governed by the Holy Spirit of God. If you want to be spiritual, walk in the Spirit. When you are an authentically spiritual person, when you walk in the Spirit, everyone around you will know it. That is, you’ll give off evidence, or fruit.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Notice that verses 19-21 list “the works of the flesh.” But in verse 22 it’s not the “works” of the spirit, it’s the “fruit” of the spirit. Why? Because one is dead and one is alive. When you think of works you think of something artificially made, manufactured by a machine in a factory. But fruit is the byproduct of life. It’s natural.
How does a tree produce fruit? By just hanging in there. Trees don’t work or strive. You’ve never seen a fruit tree sweat! Hanging in there is what the Bible calls “abiding.” Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). So what’s the secret? Abiding.
Maintain a close contact with Jesus Christ. When you do that, when you talk to Him, when He talks to you in His Word, when you seek Him with your whole heart—the Bible calls that “abiding”—the natural result, without striving, will be the production of fruit.
An Associated Press story once listed what it takes to produce 100 bushels of corn from one acre of land: four million pounds of water, 6,800 pounds of oxygen, 5,200 pounds of carbon, 160 pounds of nitrogen…and it went on, listing the natural ingredients (those provided by God). Only five percent of the yield could be attributed to the efforts of man.
It’s that way with spiritual fruit. You can’t say, “Look what I have done!” If there is spiritual fruit in your life, it comes through hanging in there with Christ.
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