When it comes to faith, we often ask the question, “How much do I need to get by?”. Many people often want to know how to live the Christian life just enough to get us into Heaven and escape Hell. If that sounds familiar to you, may I suggest that you’ve missed the whole point of the Christian faith?
Christianity isn’t about escaping something, it’s about entering something; that something is life in Spirit. Today’s verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians tell us what a spirit filled life looks like. Spirit filled lives area filled with love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control – but not always all at the same time (At least not for me). St. Paul tells us these characteristics are the “fruit” of the Spirit. In other words they are the noticeable byproducts of a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus.
What’s He Really Saying?
However, if we fail to carefully and deliberately read ALL the great Apostle is saying, we may be left with the misguided thought that a life committed to Jesus automatically grows this incredible fruit. Well, you don’t have to live as a Christian long before you realize you often live below these fruitful characteristics. You may even doubt your faith since you have such struggles with living out this ‘fruit of the Spirit’. But, listen carefully to what I’m about to say.
Living ‘by the Spirit’ is not enough. What? That’s right. St. Paul knew as Christians we receive the Holy Spirit when we believe, after all, it is only by the power of the Spirit that we can turn from sin and repent in faith. So, in that sense we can be said to ‘live by the Spirit’. However, Paul says if we live by the Spirit, we must also “keep in step with the Spirit”. Keeping in step implies so much more than just a position of belief; it means we live under the complete control of the Holy Spirit. We live and move and have our very being in what He would have us do and say (Acts 17:28).
The Key to Bearing Fruit
If we want to live the fruit-filled life of the Spirit, we must come to a place of complete surrender of our will to God’s will. God has a will for each of us, but he won’t force it upon our lives. When our hearts recognize the true depth of love God gives to us through the sacrifice of His son Jesus, and through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit, then surrender to His will and His way, becomes the pathway to transformation. In His power, walking step by step in His guidance, we are transformed into loving, joyful, peaceful, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled people. The transformation doesn’t happen in an instant, but the surrender of our will does. Then, as we walk in His power, He lights our way through experiences that transform us, step by step, into His likeness.
As you prepare your hearts for worship on the Lord’s day tomorrow, won’t you spend some time thinking about your level of surrender to Jesus Christ? Are you living in faith because you’ve accepted Jesus as savior? If so, great, you’re partially surrendered. Or, are you still trying to figure out life on your own, making decisions in your own power and wisdom without knowing or considering what God’s will is. If so, won’t you consider surrendering everything to Jesus; every fear your still holding on to, every doubt you have about what the future will bring, yes even the unknown things of the future? To surrender completely to Jesus Christ and His will for your life brings the fruit of the Spirit. You can have peace in knowing the Lord of Life is Lord of ALL – including you.
Grace & Peace,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”