As the month of August ends, I always feel like we are starting the fall and yet it is still 85 or 90 degrees outside. Despite the heat, I just get the feeling that it’s just got to get cooler soon and I will get my energy level back. Then, when it cools off it is the time of year when most of us get back into a rhythm and routine. We feel like the pace should pick up and more things must get done. Above all else, it is the time to brace ourselves for the escalated stress level of a faster pace and more demands. It is what we have come to expect, ever since we were kids with school and other events starting up.
However, there is also a part of us (me anyway) that loves consistency, regardless of the time of year. The older I get the better it feels. Maybe it is because I have been out of school for a long time – maybe it is just wanting to feel more secure and know where the boundaries of life are. Not sure, but I do know that God wants consistency with our lives, regardless of what season it might be. I think consistency is good for us because it provides boundaries and security. It reminds us that He is ever faithful and never changes (Hebrews 13:8), no matter how moody or volatile life has made us.
So to me, consistency requires boundaries and even a model to follow. That way if I have something I can see or envision, I can try to stay within the lines and keep myself out of trouble (insert smiley face.) So, what example can we use that will keep us focused and also help us feel less stress, especially when we know the circumstances will change from moment to moment? Personally, one concept always seems to come to mind. It is the believer’s uniformity we are to display that Paul talked about in Galatians 5:22 – 23. It is what we should regularly model, despite what is going on around us. It is reliably displaying Spiritual Fruit – one mindset with 9 different characteristics. Fairly straightforward model but challenging to stay unswerving, day in, day out.
Today I want to look at Spiritual Fruit from a conceptual level and then over the next three days break them down into the three areas of focus that make sense to me. First, let’s look at the passage:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
The concept of fruit and its role in Scripture is that fruit is the outgrowth of a core plant. In John 15: 1 – 17 the verses describe the Lord being the (core) vine while we are the branches that, attached to Him, bear fruit. Essentially, we are the vehicle that issues, produces and yields something good based on the potential that lies inside of us. We must be His hands and his feet. Our Father designed and created us with the unique genetics, cultural influence and motivations to accomplish His heart’s desire and plan. When we work from that context we will always be successful.
Over the years, I have learned the hard way that you can work as hard as you want, but if you do not have “favor”, the work, energy and effort is useless and can fall on deaf ears. However, if you are supported as God’s preference and provided insight by His Spirit, you are wiser, better and more productive that anything you can do on your own. THAT creates consistency and less stress. He is faithful and will provide for your every need while you produce the “Fruit” of His mind and heart. It took me a long time to figure this out. It’s not just effort that succeeds, favor is required. It’s a blessing that makes us better than we as an individual can ever be. How do you get there? By producing FRUIT! Let’s look into the heart of the matter tomorrow.