There is a popular teaching today that fatally hurts the spiritual growth of every Christian.
Because of this doctrine, Christians stop being an effective servant of God. Preachers, evangelists, and pastors adamantly teach that we can be saved by just believing and accepting Christ in our hearts.
However, this teaching is deeply flawed. It cheapens and insults the tremendous sacrifice Jesus Christ has done for all of us.
Most importantly, it obscures the real meaning of our Christian calling and what it truly means to become a man or woman after God’s own heart.
To combat this pervasive belief, we need to cultivate the habit of developing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit comes as a package and a single entity. We cannot just concentrate on producing one aspect and disregard the other.
Thus, in this chapter, the sixth habit of being an effective Christian is to develop the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Let us explore the different aspects of this fruit and strive hard to translate the lessons from this chapter into our own lives.
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Why should we bear fruit?
Is belief in Yahweh the Father and Yahshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) enough to be counted as a Christian?
Is accepting Christ in our lives and praying the sinner’s prayer sufficient for us to be saved?
Are good works still necessary for us to be counted worthy to be called sons and daughters of God?
We need to ponder and answer these questions with all honesty. Most importantly, we must dig into the Bible to know the answer according to God and not just according to any man. Here are some of the important reasons we need to bear fruit.
FAITH IS NOT ENOUGH
James clearly tells us, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?… Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14, 16, 18).
Faith is tremendously important to please God (Hebrews 11:6). However, it must be a LIVING faith – a faith that positively changes who we are.
Faith is more than just a belief.Tweet
Faith is the substance that motivates and inspires us to live our lives according to the will of God.
If our faith stops in just being a belief, we are no better than the demons who also believe and tremble. Thus, faith must be accompanied by works (James 3:17).
CHRIST COMMANDED THAT WE MUST BEAR MUCH FRUIT
In John 15:2, 8, 16 Jesus said, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit HE TAKES AWAY; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples… you did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”
God desires that we must be fruitful – to produce not just some but a lot of fruits.
BEARING FRUITS GLORIFIES GOD
We already read in John 15:8 that God is well pleased when we bear fruits.
In fact, it glorifies Him.
Part of worshiping and honoring God is to bear much fruit.
If we keep on sinning, we are putting shame in God’s name.
However, if we strive to show fruits, people will see our works and the positive impact we have in our community that they will begin to understand that God is our primary motivation behind our actions.
As a result, people will then glorify God because of our good works (Matthew 5:16).
BEARING FRUITS MAKES US A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST
We are Christians because we are followers of Christ. In John 15:8, we read:
“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
You see, when we bear fruits, God is not just glorified, but we also prove to God that we are truly Christ’s disciples.
It is so easy to profess to be a Christian. What’s difficult is to prove to be one.
To achieve this, we must bear fruit so we can be worthy to be called real and genuine Christians.
GOD WILL REWARD US ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS
In this point in time, let me make myself clear: we cannot earn our salvation. No amount of good works can buy us the reward of God. Salvation is and will always be a free gift from our Heavenly Father.
On the other hand, it is equally true that God will NOT give salvation to those people who are stubborn and will not change their ways. We are to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit for God to see us as worthy to be part of His Kingdom.
Having said this, there are many passages in the Bible that tell us that we will be rewarded according to our works.
These verses include Romans 2:6, Colossians 3:23-24, Galatians 6:9, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27, and Revelation 22:12, just to name a few.
Bearing fruits helps us to grow spiritually. In a parable in Luke 13:6-9, we read that a tree that does not bear fruit should be cut down. A healthy tree bears many fruits.
In the same way, a healthy Christian also bears a lot of good fruits. If we are just contented in having spiritually weak muscles, we will soon become lethargic, sluggish, lazy, sick, and eventually, die.
God expects us to be fruitful not just for His own pleasure, but He wants us to be fruitful because it is good for us. God loves us and He knows that bearing much fruit helps us to have a more fulfilling, happier, and blessed life.
What is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
After enumerating the works of the flesh (verses 18-21), the Apostle Paul gave us a comprehensive list of what the Holy Spirit can do if we let it in us.
Paul wanted to make a contrast between what our flesh and the Holy Spirit can do. Notice that our flesh is naturally inclined to do evil. However, once we receive the Holy Spirit, we can now have the Help that we need to persevere in our Christian walk.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Christ said that by our fruits, we will be known (Matthew 7:20). If we are truly a follower of Christ, we must bear these fruits. It must be CLEARLY evident in our thoughts, words, and actions.
Therefore, you are a true and genuine Christian if you have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Now, notice that the Apostle Paul used the word “fruit” – a singular word. Paul was telling us that we cannot just pick any of these aspects of the Holy Spirit and disregard the rest. We cannot say that it is okay that I am not patient as long as I am faithful. No, all of the aspects of the Holy Spirit’s fruit build on each other.
We must also realize that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the very character of God. Christ instructed us to aim for perfection (Matthew 5:48).
Of course, as long as we are in the flesh, we can never be perfect and blameless before God. Yet, God wants us to aim for perfection – to develop His very character. This is how HIGH God’s standard is!
We must work hard to develop the fruit of the Holy Spirit because only then we can truly become effective Christians.
We need to ask ourselves how much of the Holy Spirit’s fruit have I already developed? Have I grown to be more like God and less like me?
How much love do I have in me? Do I really love my neighbor as myself? Do I exhibit the very characteristics of love mentioned in I Corinthians 13?
Am I joyful? Does my happiness depend on the things that are happening to me? Am I joyful every time I fall into various trials (James 1:2)? Do I serve God and others with gladness (Psalm 100:2)?
Does peace reign in my heart? Does my peace come from loving God’s law (Psalms 119:165)? Do I have peace because I realize how I was justified through faith (Romans 5:1)?
Am I patient with my brothers and sisters or am I easily get offended and frustrated? Do I wait on God and for His will to be done in my life or am I too impatient that I want things to go my way?
Am I kind to one another? Do I have the disposition to see the kindness of others rather than their faults? Do I have mildness in my temper, calmness of spirit, and the nature to treat all with kindness and politeness?
Am I good to everyone and not just to those whom I consider friends? Do I actively look for opportunities to do good to others? Am I only good when people are good to me or do I rather overlook offenses?
Am I faithful? If Christ returns here on earth, will He find me faithful (Luke 18:8)? Am I faithful to God? Am I faithful to my promises and true to my words? Do other people see me as a trustworthy person?
Am I meek and gentle? Do I seek peace with men rather than getting even with them? Am I patient when people do me wrong? Do I get easily offended by small or great insults?
Do I have self-control? Can I bring my every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5)? How much strength or ascendency do I have over my sinful and carnal desires? Do I easily give into temptation or do I have the power to overcome it?
These are just some of the questions you need to answer with all honesty. When we answer these questions, we must not compare ourselves to others.
We need to evaluate ourselves and see how much fruit we have really bore. When we compare our present selves to ourselves a year ago, are we spiritually growing or dying?
As we examine ourselves, I hope we can see that we are casting away the works of the flesh and focusing on bearing good fruit. We need to continually grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
How to produce the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?
God and Jesus Christ commands and expects us to bear good fruit and not just any ordinary fruit, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We know from Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control.
Now that we know all these, we must understand how we can produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
It is worth noting that it is called the fruit of the Holy Spirit and not the fruit of ourselves. Left by ourselves, we can only be effective in doing the works of the flesh. Though we can produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in some degrees, it will never be enough.
The first thing that we must realize is that we need the Holy Spirit for us to produce its fruit.
This leads us to another question.
How do we receive the Holy Spirit? The Apostle Peter clearly tells us:
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 3:28). In addition to this, we also need hands to be laid upon us (Acts 8:17).
We must sincerely recognize that we are sinners and we are nothing apart from God. We need to confess our sins and genuinely repent of them.
After that, we must be baptized by a minister of God and let hands be laid upon us. This is the way we receive the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit can do marvelous things in us. It is the power of God that enables us to change our ways. In fact, we can never overcome our sins and develop godly character without the help of the Holy Spirit.
The second point we need to consider is that when we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, in effect, we are abiding in Christ. We read in John 15:1, 4-5:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… 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.”
From these verses, it is very clear that we are nothing without God and Christ. Notice, in order for us to bear fruit, we must be attached to the vine!
The closer we are to God and Christ, the more fruits we can bear. We need the spiritual nutrition that we get from God and we can only obtain that if we abide in Christ.
If we stay stubborn and think that we can bear fruit by ourselves, fatal consequences await us.
As John 15:6 tells us, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
This is a frightening thought that we must all consider.
The bottom line is this: if we want to bear fruit, we must stay close to God and Christ. There’s NO other way.
Finally, there is one special way that we can abide in Christ. We can achieve this by staying close to the “Body of Christ.” Notice I Corinthians 12:12-14, 27.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many… NOW YOU ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST, and members individually.”
The church is there to nourish us with spiritual food. Through the messages that we hear every Sabbath service, the teachings we read, and the advice we receive from our brethren, we can have the necessary wisdom to bear more fruit. As iron sharpens iron, we also spiritually grow when we are surrounded by like-minded people.
Commit to bear the Fruit of the Holy Spirit
Bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit is a life-long process. Success does not come overnight and perfection will never be achieved while we are still in the flesh.
However, this does not mean that we must not strive to produce the different aspects of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
God commands and expects us to manifest the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We will be judge by the fruits that we bear.
So let us pray to God that He will give us an extra measure of the Holy Spirit and let it richly dwell in us. When we are full of the Holy Spirit, it will inevitably translate in the way we think, talk, and act.
Commit to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
We should not wait until we just feel like it or we don’t have any other choice. The best time to make this commitment is now.
When we do, we will soon become effective Christians who are willing to do whatever it takes to be pleasing in the sight of God.