Thursday, August 04, 2011

Spiritual Fruit--Part II

Continuing in our examination of what is spiritual fruit.
  • It is the fruit of the Light
Ephesians 5:8-9 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth).

Goodness, righteousness, and truth all go together, they walk hand in hand.  So when our light is shining before men, our walk (manner of life/way of life) will be characterized by all three.  The goodness here is not a passive or meek goodness, but an active goodness, a desire for goodness that compels one to action.  It is also the zeal behind righteous indignation.  This is the zeal behind Christ driving out the moneychangers, in order to protect the righteousness of His Father's house.  It is goodness in action, and it is a prevailing goodness.  It is an infectious goodness that influences others around it. This kind of lifestyle is one that brings glory to God, for it is obvious that God is the power, and it will point men to Him.
  • It is righteousness
Philippians 1:11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  (See also James 3:18, Hebrews 12:11)

In I John 2:1 our Lord is called Jesus Christ, the Righteous.  So the fruit we bear will be righteous as He is righteous.  In fact, it is His righteousness that we are producing, not our own.  It is the righteousness whose foundation is faith in Christ.  Faith in all that He is and all He has done to secure our salvation.  In fact, we are most righteous when we are living as Christ would live (Again, referring back to the obedience of faith).
  • It is Godly wisdom
James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 

Godly wisdom is the mind of Christ (which all true Christian's have) applied to the situations and circumstances of life in the world, and life in the church.  It comes from a knowledge of the Scriptures, it comes from prayer, it is the result of knowing Christ, and comes out of a desire to be like Him in all of life.
  • It is caring for the brethren
Romans 15:26, 28 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem....Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.

We also see this in the letter to the Philippians as Paul commends them for their support for him over the years (approximately 11 years); in II Corinthians as well, as Paul talks about fully supplying the needs of the saints.

The Scriptures tell us to do good and be ready to share, and we are to be particularly sensitive to the needs of those within the family of God, our brethren in Christ.  This sensitivity to, and desire to provide for the needs of the saints is a particular fruit of the Spirit, and gives testimony to the world of God's love and care for His own. 
  • It is the outworking of the three Divine distinctives
I Corinthians 13:13 But faith, hope, and love, abide these three....

We should see these three distinctives manifested in not only the lives of the individuals, but also in the life of each church.  If you look at the letters to the churches in Revelation, they are commended for their manifestation of these distinctives or rebuked for their lack of them.  Also, the church at Thessalonica was commended for their work of faith, their labor of love, and the steadfastness of their hope; and for the church at Colossae; the object of their faith was Jesus Christ, their love was directed towards all the saints, and their hope was laid up in heaven. 

Again, as the people go, so goes the church. So each church will manifest fruit in relation to the fruit produced by its people; and to the extent that faith, hope, and love are manifested in the lives of its members, they will be manifested in the life in that church.  This is what makes the churches at Thessalonica and Colossae stand out.  So the question for all of us is how much of faith, hope, and love do we bring to our church?
  • It is the result of our conduct
Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you, and considering the result of their conduct (the outcome of their way of life), imitate their faith.

Remember, Jesus said we shall know them by their fruit, or, in other words, you personally will be known by your fruit.  You know, you really do live what you believe.  Therefore your life will bear out what is actually on the inside.  God has constructed life in such a way that our fruit is made known/evident through what life brings about.  We see this fruit, not only in the behavior itself, but also in its consequences.  This is true for all of us whether a believer or a non-believer, but is particularly crucial for leaders in the church.  We should be able to see spiritual fruit in the lives those who are spiritual leaders.  Again, it is not about talking a good game, but it is about the totality of our life. 
  • It is the life of Christ lived out in us
Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
Galatians 4:19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you--
Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

Since Christ is the vine from which the branches draw their life and sustenance, it is His life that will be reproduced in and through the branch.  It is Christ who is our life, and therefore His life is being lived out through us.  The essence of Christianity is not becoming a better person, but becoming more and more like Christ.  He lived the life that we were supposed to live, but could not; and now lives that life out through each and every one who is truly a Christian. 

So when we bear fruit, that fruit is a manifestation of Christ, His character and His attributes.  This gives a richer meaning to the term Christlike.  As we mature, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, we will become more like Him; and in becoming more like Him we will not only produce more fruit, but the fruit we produce will be richer and sweeter and more luxurious.  It will be pleasing to the eye, flavorful to the taste, and give off an aromatic smell.  It will be a delight and appealing to the spiritual senses of those who are true Christians, but will be the odor of death, and therefore offensive, to those who are not.

Our bearing fruit, and much of it, will prove out our discipleship; and in the proving to be true disciples, God will be glorified.  So, let us focus on becoming more like Christ, for in doing so we will bear much rich fruit, our Father and God will be glorified, and we will have truly done something on this earth that is not only worthwhile, but will count for eternity.

No comments: