The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
I’m a nice jerk. I’m a truthful liar.
Can these be true statements? It would seem not. Either a person classifies as “nice” or as a “jerk.” Someone either tells the truth all the time or they are a liar.
Today’s Scripture verse reminds us that if we claim to live by the Spirit, if we claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit (and as Orthodox Christians, we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit at Chrismation, and we continually receive the Holy Spirit through prayer and Holy Communion), then our lives need to reflect this. How can we be “Spirit-filled” or “Spirit-led” or “Spirit-centered” if we lack love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Going back to yesterday’s reflection, it’s not an either/or proposition. Being filled with the Spirit means that we genuinely strive to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in us. We can’t seek after or experience the power of the Holy Spirit without seeking to grow His Fruit. There are certainly points in every life, probably in every day or every life, that we are not loving, or patient, or kind or we lack self-control. We all have these moments. I have these moments.
How do you grade yourself on each of these Fruit? More importantly, how do you think God would grade you on these Fruit and how they are present in your life?
In school, an “A” was given for excellent, a “B” was good but had room for improvement, a “C” was average, a “D” was “passing,” and an “F” was failing. If you were to give yourself a grade on how well what you say you believe falls in line with how you live your life, what kind of grade would you give yourself? What kind of grade do you think God would give you?
In Orthodox circles, we hear the term “spiritual warfare.” While described in different ways, this essentially means that there is a battle for our souls waged between ourselves (who innately desire to be close to God) and the devil (who wishes us to be as far from God as possible). In practical terms, the battle is material (earthly) versus spiritual (heavenly), meaning that we wage a daily battle for the works of the flesh versus the Fruit of the Spirit. And yes, it is a battle. I don’t know anyone who has won the battle and can just relax, filled with the Spirit with no concerns with temptation. I suppose there are some who have given up or are taking a break and letting the works of the flesh win. But there is no one who has won the battle for the Spirit over the flesh. It is a war we will fight until our dying breath.
In heaven, there will be only Spiritual Fruit. There won’t be this battle, there will be no spiritual turmoil. However, in order to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, we have to fight this battle in our earthly life. We have to cultivate the Fruit in our life now, so that when the harvester (God) comes for us, He will find souls filled with good fruit, with Spiritual fruit, souls that are ready to enter His Kingdom and enjoy the Fruit of their labor.
Choosing to walk with the Spirit is a choice. And it is a choice we have to make daily. And we can’t have it all the ways—we can’t be a “Spirit-filled” hater, or a “Spirit-filled” peace taker or a “Christ-centered” killjoy, or an out of control “dedicated Christian.” Just like we can’t make a right-left turn or take both forks in a road, we have to choose the path to salvation. If we say we “live by the Spirit” then we also must “walk by the Spirit.” If we say we are a Christian, then we have to act the way a Christian is supposed to act.
Lord, thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit which I receive through prayer and worship. Fill me with Your grace, so that I may grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control today. Help me to have courage to live my Christian faith even in moments when others around me are encouraging me not to. Help me to keep focus and to nurture the Fruit of Your Spirit in me, today and always. Amen.
Let your actions reflect your Christian faith!