Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Discipleship

How the Fruit of the Spirit Works

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
We have to realize that the Fruit of the Spirit is a "must" endeavor--not a convenience or a mere attitude, nor is it just for children or something to be ignored. Rather, it is a principle hallmark that points to God's Holiness and effectual Christian living. It is not something we are to regulate to the youth departments of the church, thinking we have grown beyond it as adults. Rather, it is the most important thing a Christian and, especially a minister of the Word and church leader, is to be doing. It is who we are to be, growing and maturing as a lifelong journey of our spiritual formation our faith development and deployment.

John 14, 15; Romans 5:1-5; 12:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:40; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:1-6:20; 2 Peter 1:3-9

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:1-4

We have looked on what the Fruit of the Spirit is, how it is manifested, what are the each types of virtues and characters, now let's look how and why God is manifesting this in and through us.

Fundamentally, the Fruit that Christ flows in and through us is His nourishment that we further develop and deploy. In so doing, we can take hold of what He has for us in a more effectual way, being more effective for Him and bringing a glory to His work and the development of the Church. Yet, this has been so elusive throughout the centuries to the point that it is a rarity to come upon a mature-in-the-faith believer or leader who manifests these incredible gifts and opportunities--even with the pronouncement of judgment when we do not.

We have to realize that the Fruit of the Spirit is a "must" endeavor--not a convenience or a mere attitude, nor is it just for children or something to be ignored. Rather, it is a principle hallmark that points to God's Holiness and effectual Christian living. It is not something we are to regulate to the youth departments of the church, thinking we have grown beyond it as adults. Rather, it is the most important thing a Christian and, especially a minister of the Word and church leader, is to be doing. It is who we are to be, growing and maturing as a lifelong journey of our spiritual formation our faith development and deployment.

This is about, He is the Vine, we are the branches. For the first century person in an agrarian culture, this image of a vine and fruit was known, even essential for life and commerce. Without a working vineyard, people could not function as grapes and wine were used for everything. You could not live without it. Even the water a child would drink had a little wine added to it so they did not get sick with cholera. Of course, the abuse of the wine was a social disaster that brought disrepute to your family.

The Call to Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

Jesus directly calls us the Christians, the pastors, the leaders, those who are new in the faith, those who are mature-ALL of us--to bear fruit ! We are called t a growing faith that is fed and focused on our response to Christ that motivates the flow of the Fruit of the Spirit. This effects our personality, character, and our moral and virtuous thinking and action because of God's love to and for us and our gratitude and love back to Him. We can bear, because this is God's love and work in us that flows in through His Holy Spirit and out of us to others around us--all because we have a growing personal relationship with Christ. When this is happening, we show the world that we have God's living presence in us, living in us (Matt. 6:10; Rom. 5:1-5; 12:1-21; 1 Cor. 12:1-14:40; Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 4:1-6:20; 2 Peter 1:3-9).

So, take heed. We cannot be believers and do nothing with what we are given. Yes, we are saved by our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the grace of God our Father. This is everything. But, what happens next? To be saved without any lived-out response from us shows that we dare to be shallow, immature, thoughtless, rotten-bearing no fruit. We can't do this Christian life on our own, nor can we just sit back and do nothing or focus on living by our conceit. We cannot be fruitful apart from Jesus. If we find this to be so, then perhaps the precious sap of God's nourishment has never flowed in the face of one's own erected barriers (Matt. 3:8; 7:16-20; 13:18-23; 24:12; Luke 6:43-45; John 8:31-32; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:11; Heb. 3:14-19; 6:4-8: 10:27-31).

As God is the Gardener, He must keep His branches healthy; He must not just plant and water, He needs to weed, cultivate, prune and cuts off . This cut off or lifts up, is a metaphor to God's righteous judgment and inspection. Just as we rework a plant so it can be healthier and more productive, God does so with us. God has the right to work and nurture us and to judge like the judge at the county fair looking for the prized fruits and vegetables. This is so He can do what He must do to get rid of the frauds and to teach, inspire, mold, motivate, coach, discipline, and encourage His children to have a godly life that is productive and useful (Matt. 3:8; 7:16-20; Gal 5:22-23;Eph. 2:10; 5:9; Phil 1:11).

Doesn't sound popular, does it? No, but it is completely necessary; God does prune, and it is for our good and the benefit of the Church. Prunes m eans to cleanse and to fix and remove what is not good, which is by God's loving, necessary intervention. This is good; all fruit bearing trees must be cultivated to work well, and what is dead is cut off or they will be overcome by insects and disease. Even when all is well, they will not produce as much as they could have unless there is pruning, fertilizing, and care. God will remove any hindrance that stagnates our spiritual growth. This can also be a warning about judgment if one does nothing and is also an image of care. Just like a good parent warning their child, disciplining him/her so he/she can know better, and cultivating better maturity, we have to be pruned so we can grow better. The question is why would we fear this and not want it (Isa. 5:1; Heb. 12:3-11)?

So we need to ask ourselves if we are bearing Fruit? How do we know? We would be Fruitful . This is the simple call to be obedient, to multiply the seed given to us and work it. Primary, we are to make disciples of His Word. We are to point to Christ, never to ourselves! We need disciples of Christ, not of people like ourselves! We need fruitful believers and mature leaders. This is a standard call of God to do something productive and effectual with our life and faith. Think of it like this: to have a great gift like salvation, and do nothing with it is a great insult to the gift giver. Who gives us these gifts and why? God! And being Fruitful, is a proof of sincere devotion of faith. Not doing so, our betrayal, our ingratitude and nonuse, so we produce its opposite, rotten fruits, which would prove that one is either not saved or highly disobedient and foolish (Isa. 27:6; Hos. 14:4-8).

The Fruit of the Spirit is from the Vine

Jesus, in John 15, gives us some incredible imagery from agriculture, a very familiar theme in the first century culture that connects to our relationship with God and His relationship with us. He is calling Himself the Vine . This is referring to a grapevine, which is also a metaphor for God's living, salvation-giving sustenance to us His people. This is one of the "I am" saying of Jesus-a description of His name "to be" and character, meaning Jesus is our prime source of life and nourishment. In the Old Testament, Israel is called God's vineyard and His vine, while God is the vine-grower. This was a symbol of Israel's power and her purpose to produce fruit and glory to God, and His law and love to the nations. This is the engine to what He gives in faith, fruit and empowerment (Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 3:14; Psalm 40:1-2; 80:8-16; Isa. 5:1-7; 53:6; Jer. 2:21; 6:9; Ezek. 15; 17:5-10; 19:10-14; Hos. 10:1; 14:8; John 4:24; 6:35; 8:58; Rom. 3:23; 10:9).

Also, in the John passage, God is called the Gardener or Vinedresser , some translations have Husbandman. I guess you can determine what word we get from that and why. Its meaning is one who works the soil. This is also a name for God as the One who wants fruit, so He nourishes, cultivates, protects, and grows His children and then prunes for a greater harvest and life.

Look at what Jesus is saying, I am in my Father, and you are in me-- the mutual and reciprocal indwelling of the Triune God who gives and who deserves and expects to receive love. Jesus is the One who reveals the Father. He relates that faith in Him, in Jesus, is equal to faith in God, thus we will be upheld and be successful (2 Chron. 20:20; John 10:38; 11:25-26; 14:10).

As He is the Vine, we are the branches. This encompasses all--our relationship in Christ, our being united in Christ, part of His plan and His appendage as He provides the indispensable sap of substance for life and salvation and faithfulness. A branch is a part of the vine with the sole purpose of producing fruit. If the branch can't do that because of infection or rot or bad care, it must be fertilized and developed to coax it to thrive and produce. If nothing ever comes from it and it is dead, it never was His Vine stem (like Judas) (Eph. 1:22-23).

The Fruit of the Spirit is our Christian 'Trademark'

The Fruit of the Spirit is the Christian 'trademark' and the result of God living out His love and work that flows in us, through us, and out of us, onto others around us. It is about God's Holiness and our response of living out His goodness by who we are to be for Christ's glory.

A trademark is a brand of a business, expression, concept or design that is properly registered, and regulated to its proper source. Its purpose is for product identification, promotion and protection from misrepresentations and larceny. It is used so ones creation or service can be prompted for recognizable advertising and product protection. Our trademark as Christians is that we are Jesus' brand, He is our Source. Because, we belong to Christ, we are His and to be about His business of life, we are His registry, His identification, His property, under His regulation, for His advertisement and under His protection. We are to be His recognizable design that identifies us to Who and What He is and does for His Lordship and Glory! This comes to us when we abide. The question is: are we being His recognizable brand and design by our character, behaviors and temperament of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ; that shows the world that we belong to Christ Jesus?

This is what John is saying in 14 though 15 with the term, showing yourselves . This is the prime evidence is loving obedience. How do we live? How are we with people? Do we point to Christ in our ministry or do we succumb to our pride and seek only to serve ourselves? Are we bitter or better, angry or faithful, jealous or kind?

This comes down to the reality that our union in Christ will display our true nature and display our Lord. This is not about salvation; one who is not saved was never a part of the Vine. Authentic salvation is verified by obedience and fruit bearing, the mark of a disciple in these passages state. Without trust and obedience, we prove ourselves unworthy to be His, and we prove ourselves not to be a Christian. Grace is free for us, beyond the concept of cost for God, and is evidenced by our response (Matt. 7:20; Luke 6:43-45; Heb. 6:9).

The Fruit of the Spirit is our Christian 'Branding'

Like the "Trademark," branding is the image of a product or service a company uses for consumers to be able to connect with. So, the brand is the main theme how it is marketed and portrayed by logos, representations, ads and such so we can identify it. The Fruit of the Spirit is the Christian 'branding' from the outcome of God's love and work flowing in, through, and out of us, onto others around us. It is the result, as perhaps Enoch first demonstrated, that we walk before God.

It is like a car that has no gas or a working battery. The car may be paid in full, as Christ pays for us in full, it may look good and clean, but if there is no fuel in it, or has a dead battery, it is useless for transportation-the very role it was designed and needed for.

Trademark and branding is the evidence; it is all about how the Holy Spirit works in the authentic believer. This is what it means to be a "Spirit-filled Christian" as we become the display of Who and What Jesus Christ is. Our fruits are produced by our growth in faith and knowledge of Christ as Lord. We then have the Christian 'product' that we have to give back to our Redeemer in gratitude and also used to build healthy relationships and promote the Kingdom of God.

This all comes into play as our chief purpose in life, the Father's glory. The Son demonstrates as He glorifies the Father and shows us that our purpose in life and ministry is to glorify Christ. We are to not only know Christ or to not only make Him known; it is bigger and more active than that. We are to further His Kingdom and bring Him glory. This is not about results; it is about our communing trust in Him that motivates our obedience and our ability and willingness to please God (John 13:31-32).

How the Fruit of the Spirit Works

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

For illustration's sake, the Holy Spirit is like God's Current. As we see from these passages it is all about His Current, in and out. Never just in or just out, lest we become useless fat sheep or deceitful conceited goats. He, Christ the Lord, sends His Holy Spirit to dwell in us, and He flows. The Fruit of the Spirit is all about walking with God and Him walking with us, showing and sowing us His precepts and then flowing in and out of us, cutting loose for the faith. He wants to pour into us who He is and flow out of us who and what He is.

The 'result' is essential point to understand in how God, The Holy Spirit, works in the believer; it is what we produce to give back and promote the Kingdom of God. As fruit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the result of our grafting in the Vine, the flow of our nourishment and cultivation we receive form the Vine. Jesus Christ is the Vine and we are called to dwell, remain and abide in Him for this to happen. If we do not produce these essential Christian virtues, we are without character or show the disposition that we are saved by Christ.

So, we put off what hinders that flow, like the rotten fruits like our pride. We turn to His Word and read, study, absorb, learn and grow. Practice and build the faith. Experience life, relationships, setbacks and joys. Take on failures and success, and always be learning from them. Then, we never give in and never give up, as He continues to remain in us, we abide, we dwell, we grow and we produce what He is continually giving us. Receive Him, grow in Him and pass His precepts by our demonstration onward and upward. The key? Our desire must be poured out to Him, and our life is to be about how do I glorify Him, not please myself.

The call Jesus give us to make this all work is simple--to abide in Christ to make this Fruit flow. It means to preserve and commune with, as in our continual relationship in and with Christ. As He flows in us with His sustenance, we further construct it and stream it out onto others to build the Kingdom! The Fruit of the Spirit is all about walking with God and Him walking with us, sowing us His precepts and then flowing in and out of us, cutting lose for the faith. He wants to pour into us who He is and flow out of us who and what He is.

Receiving Fruit of the Spirit

How do we get more of Him flowing in our lives? It is simple; we ask, trust and obey, and we take these things and build our relationship with Him. Prayer, Bible reading, and effort go into being able to bear the Fruit of the Spirit. As it is stated in Ephesians 4:22-24, we should do our best to trust Him and let go of any bad attitudes and habits. Through prayer, you can ask for the Fruit of the Spirit, receive more of His love and faithfulness so we can be more loving and faithful. In this way, we can improve ourselves so we can become much more God-like in our character.

The Flow of Fruit

John 15 tells us that our fruit, is the result of our grafting in the Vine, the flow of our nourishment and cultivation we receive form the Vine. Thus, we have one fruit with nine main manifestations of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Jesus Christ is the Vine, and we are called to dwell, remain and abide in Him for this to happen. If we do not produce these essential Christian virtues; then, we are either not His or we are without character, and thus, we cannot show the disposition that we are saved by Christ.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus gives us abilities so to use us to proclaim His Word and tell others? Why does He not just audibly or by some great sign and wonder just reveal Himself to someone or to all? Well, He does not need us, but chooses to use us for a greater good. The proclamation of the Gospel is relational, us to God and us to one another and it is God's relation to us and our relationship to one another so the communal love of our Lord. It is all about building our relationship in Christ, setting the tone of who are what we are from Who and What He has done and paying this forward to others and so forth.

In addition, showing God and telling others about God is not easy; it takes demonstrators, people to live it out. If you want to know how a product works, you go to someone who has it to show you or to a place that is showing it. Like a new smart phone, we can just play with it and see what it can do, thus wasting lot of our time and never fully realizing all it is, or we can cut that time in a faction and let someone show us a few features. We showcase God's features. Just telling someone, even from God Himself, doesn't get much of a response as seen in the Old Testament, because people naturally hate God. So, the Holy Spirit must reveal Christ to them to entice them to believe, and then they need to see the product demonstrated. That is one of the reasons why we have t he Fruit of the Spirit--to show and distinguish God's brand of character and for us to be His trademark showcase, His product demonstrators.

Thus, to effectively use and be engaged by the Fruit of the Spirit, we are called to learn and grow in need to know Who Christ is and what He calls us to. Both people who are saved and those who are not all need love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control . We need the love from Christ so we have it to give to others, whether they will receive it or not. To build any kind of effective relationship, these fruits must be exhibited and received. If we do not learn and love, or be kind, we can't grow in faith and maturity or share the faith or build good relationships. In contrast, if all we do is learn and we are not transformed, we just become dumb, fat, and useless sheep who become annoying and not servant leaders and evangelists of God--faith and being His witness or exhibiter or brand is a matter of how we are over what we are; now, the engagement of our fruit is more important than what we say or what we know!

Be God's Dwelling!

A call for us is given to let Christ rule our hearts and actions, our motives and behaviors, and to put our new lives into effectual action. In this way, we will not waste what God has done in and for us or how He wants us to be toward others. These include the obligations and opportunities of living out our ethics and responsibilities that we have regarding God and one another.

The image is the taking off of "grave clothes" as Lazarus did, shedding whatever holds us from growing in Him, and whatever prevents maturity and increasing spirituality that is sincere, real, and vibrant. Our vitality and good character should be the influencers in our spheres of impact, infusing those within our reach for Christ as His ambassadors. We are to be wearing His "grace clothes" as a showcase, not the "grave clothes" of sin, apathy, personal agendas, stifle, gossip, anger, or bitterness. Rather, we are to focus on Christ, so He is clear in our hearts and minds, prod using our Fruit of the Spirit that is directing our will and our behaviors.

Why is this so important? We can lead the life that bears the life of Jesus, the character of Jesus and the theme of what it means to be a real authentic effectual Christ like Christian. This is the essential mark, the most important thing we can accomplish in our life, to be Fruitful, to be faithful and be His and LIVE LIKE IT. This means allowing the Holy Spirit to nourish and energize us, to speak to us and work in and through us.

Do you want to be safe and adequate or powerful and used in ministry and life? We do not have to lead the Christian life as Christians. We can preach feel-good messages that do not instruct or edify. We can be bullies in the boardroom or apathetic and uncaring and obtuse to our families; frankly, most of us are. As a pastor, may I say honestly, very few Christians go beyond this. And few pastors do. I met very few real Christ-like fruitful pastors in my thirty plus years in ministry. This is sad. Most of us just do not get it.

Why? We tend to live our lives to ourselves and pleases of what we want. It may not be outright sin, but it is placing our desires first and thus we do not want to learn and grow. We do not what to be convicted and grow beyond where we are at. That is why cheap messages that tickle our ears and move our emotions are so popular over the meat of the Word of God, why so many of us stopped growing so we stopped teaching. We created congregations who want to be told, "We are OK, we want to hear encouragements and feel good stories and we do not want to be taught the true Truth of Scripture so we can be used to further renew and transform the people in our care by the example and flow the Fruit of the Spirit".

Remember this very key point: This is not your fruit, but the Fruit of the Spirit of God! Receive it, build on it and impart it!

The Fruits of the Spirit are the result of a life transformed by Christ! Be that person that exhibits His person!

© 2013, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/

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