By Their Fruit You Shall Know Them
By Elaine Pierce
Which part of this passage would you rather focus on, verses 19-20, which talk about "the acts of sinful nature" in detail, or verses 22-23, which list the fruit of the spirit? For me, it's an easy call. I'd much rather think about love, joy, peace, patience, etc. But before I go there, I need to admit that sin way too often has a hold on me. As Paul says in Romans 7, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do."
But it's easy to wallow in shame and guilt, and to think that we can never attain the fruit of the Spirit. And, without the Holy Spirit, we will fail. Becoming a "good Christian" will not happen by reading a self-help book. We won't achieve perfection by trying harder, or using the latest behavior modification techniques. We won't see growth by beating ourselves up, either. We will fall short, and, yes, we will engage in sin. We may not practice witchcraft, which is on the "acts of sinful nature" in verse 20, but we certainly will experience jealousy, envy, and discord.
As you observe other Christians, what fruit do you see evidence of in their lives? Rejoice with those brothers and sisters who model joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you produce fruit. He is eager to meet you, to guide you, to bless you. As Paul says in verse 23: "Against these things there is no law." Thanks be to God!
Lord, so often I fall into sin, and I bring destruction and hurt to those I love. Forgive me when I fail. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit, and help me each day to start anew, and to produce fruit that pleases you and blesses others. Amen.
SPOKEN PRAYER: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.