By Conrad Martin
I was having a discussion the other day with my wife about how people will know we are followers of Christ. Her answer was a good one. Do we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit of God living in us? She must have been thinking of Matthew 7:20: “… by their fruit you will recognize them” (NIV). Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
But I said, these are all intangibles. What does love actually look like… same for joy, peace, kindness, and all of the others? If we look for goodness and faithfulness, what specifically will we find? Can we point to something or someone and say, now there are examples of patience and gentleness? How do we exhibit an intangible?
I wasn’t quite satisfied with the discussion and began to think about the fruit of the Spirit more deeply. What if I converted the fruit into an adverb form? Could we identify the fruit more easily and tangibly? What if we use these words instead: lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, patiently, kindly, virtuously, faithfully, gently, and disciplined.
What if we use these fruit adverbs to inform the way we do our jobs, the way we relate to others, and pretty much the way we do anything? What if we live:
- more lovingly by caring for another person’s needs above our own, seeing the other person the way God sees them, and being more forgiving of others?
- more joyfully by spreading our thanksgiving to God in infectious ways and lifting the spirits of others?
- more peacefully by working to reduce conflict around us and in us, which leads to wholeness?
- more patiently by showing a calmness when there is impatience and chaos all around us?
- more kindly by guarding our negative words and instead lifting others up with words of encouragement?
- more virtuously by working with the highest of integrity and moral standards?
- more faithfully by honoring trust that others have in us by being true to our words and true to our beliefs in God?
- more gently by showing a meekness and humility that casts aside callousness and pride?
- more disciplined by working free from distractions, not giving into the whims of the moment or sudden impulses and fleeing the desires of the flesh as described in Galatians 5:16-21, the section preceding the fruit of the Spirit passage.
Would people notice anything different about the way we live our lives and the way we relate to others that reflect the Spirit of God living in us? “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water,” Jeremiah tells us, and points out that such a person “… never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV). Will people see fruit that shows we have been transformed by the power of Christ and have a personal relationship with him, because we have put our trust and confidence in him?
As I look back over my list of fruit adverbs, I am humbled at how difficult the list is and how much I need the Holy Spirit living within me. Exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is a daily challenge I face for my walk in the Spirit.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water,” Jeremiah tells us, and points out that such a person “… never fails to bear fruit”Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV
Conrad Martin is the Director of Finance for Mosaic Conference.