Friday, May 09, 2008
As I was thinking about my own self-control (and other spiritual fruit) and wondering why so often it isn't evidenced in my life like it should be, I read this devotional by Rick Warren. I thought it was pretty right on and helpful!
Some Facts About Fruit
by Rick Warren
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
One of my fondest memories of growing up is my father’s garden. It seemed my dad grew everything in his garden. In fact, he always grew enough to feed the entire neighborhood. Whenever people would stop by our home for a visit, they’d usually leave with a sack full of fresh vegetables and luscious fruit.
The kind of fruit my father grew is just one kind of fruit – natural fruit. There is also biological fruit, the offspring of animals and the children of people.
Then there is spiritual fruit, and that’s what God is talking about in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (NIV)
The question is: How do we develop these character qualities? Obviously, God doesn’t just zap us one day and suddenly these qualities materialize in our lives. He uses a process that involves a partnership with us and also the time to grow.
It requires partnership – The Apostle Paul describes this partnership in Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV), where he says “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” but then he also says, “for it is God who works in you ….”
It’s important to note that Paul doesn’t say, “Work for your salvation.” The Bible clearly teaches we don’t have to work for our salvation. It is a free gift of God’s grace.
In a sense, Paul is talking about a spiritual work out, just like when you physically work out to develop or tone muscles. We’re to make the most of what we’ve been given. God provides the power for our spiritual growth, but we must flip the switch.
It requires time – It takes time for fruit to ripen, and in the same way, there’s no such thing as instant spiritual maturity. When you try to rush fruit, it doesn’t taste as good. If you’ve ever eaten tomatoes that have been artificially ripened to speed up the process, then you know there’s no comparing them to the wonderful taste of naturally, vine-ripened tomatoes. It takes time for fruit to ripen, and it takes time for spiritual fruit to ripen in your life.
You can begin by telling God right now that you want to be a productive, fruitful disciple, one who cooperates with his plan.
Ask God to use his Word to change the way you think. Invite the Holy Spirit to have free reign in your life. Don’t hold anything back. Ask God to help you respond to difficult people and unpleasant situations just as Jesus would. God wants to produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life, so get into partnership with God on your spiritual growth and watch what develops over time.