Just before His death and resurrection, Jesus revealed that the secret of growing God's fruit is in being at home with Him. That's the true definition of the familiar word abide. This is how Jesus describes what that means in John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
Spiritual fruit is not the result of self-effort. You grow more of God's fruit not when you try harder, but when you stay connected to the Source. When you abide in Christ, you invite Him to live with you each day and reproduce His character in you. God's character at work in you looks like:
LOVE: This is God's agape, love that selflessly seeks the highest good of the other person. God's love begins in the mind, not the emotions, as His Spirit within us prompts His agape to grow stronger each day.
JOY: Joy as a fruit of the Spirit is a settled confidence that because God controls the details of your life, you can trust Him in any circumstance and experience His life in abundant excess! Joy gives you a reason to smile.
PEACE: The unshakable, inner calm you experience when your mind and heart are at rest because you are trusting fully in Christ. Peace comes only when you decide to take God at His Word.
PATIENCE: A fruit of the Spirit that means to be "long-tempered," the opposite of short-fused irritability. Patience is the ability to wait on God because you know He is working all things for your good and His glory.
KINDNESS: The Spirit's fruit that braids mercy and grace, humility and gentleness all together. Kindness leads you to give grace, be humble, and think of others before yourself.
Like a farmer who looks back over his shoulder to see the fields he has plowed, the look back over the last five months of study brings an assurance that God is at work in our lives. We don't grow the fruit of His Spirit---His love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness---is the result of His work. We can however ready our hearts like a farmer does his field. Prepared, weeded, watered, we wait for His growth. And slowly, almost imperceptibly, as we invite Him to grow His fruit, we'll see the new growth.
Insights Newsletter, IFL Press, Plano, Texas, Vol. 11, No. 75, July 2001.
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