Good Fruit, Bad Fruit, No Fruit

Fruit seems to be a touchy issue these days.

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Being Faithful

Jesus tells us to be fruit inspectors, and even says that we are to be known by our fruit. See Matt. 7:15-27.

We shouldn’t, therefore, be bashful about looking for and asking about fruit when discerning someone’s ministry, doctrines and practices – even if they find that offensive.

However, it’s one thing to look for fruit, but it’s another thing to be wise fruit inspectors.

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Self-Control

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal 5:22-23 NIV

Self-control is the last fruit of the spirit. In life no one wants to be last. Somehow last implies that you don’t measure up, didn’t try hard enough or couldn’t quite do it. However, I don’t think being at the end of the list of fruit puts self-control in that same category.
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I think self-control is like the parenthesis in math. For example, with (3+2) x (8+2) the math inside the parenthesis has to be completed first. You would get a totally different answer if the parentheses were missing from the equation.

In a sense love and self-control are like the parenthesis. They help group the other fruit. 1 Corinthians 13, the front parenthesis, reminds us that without love we can do nothing. Self-control comprises the back parenthesis.

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Gentleness

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… Gal 5:22-23 NIV

Webster lists the characteristics of gentleness as being soft, meek, passive, mild, delicate, kind and docile. In Psalm 18:35 David says that the Lord’s “gentleness has made me great.” This seems to be a contradiction. How could the characteristics of gentleness, as defined by Webster, make someone great? Perhaps the Lord’s definition of gentleness implies much more.lion and the lamb 2

I believe that the Lord wants us to be gentle, but His gentleness is not a wishy-washy docility. Gentleness has a hidden core of strength and this core is what makes someone great. Gentleness’ strength runs deep, like the molten lava in a volcanic magma chamber. Tremendous heat transforms hard rock into a flexible, moving force.

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Faithfulness

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Gal 5:22 NIV

Faith is a seed the Lord plants in us. Faithfulness is the fruit that develops over the seasons of our life. The fruit of faithfulness requires a long growing season. There is no way to expedite the process.

tortoise and the hareIn the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise demonstrates faithfulness. He keeps on doing what he needs to do, without any fanfare or dramatics. Steadfast, loyal, conscientious, all describe a person who has allowed faithfulness to become ingrained in their life.

Often, the people who are the most faithful receive the least acclaim.

In the Bible Joseph exemplifies faithfulness. After he was sold to Potiphar, he conscientiously served him and the Lord blessed Potiphar’s household because of Joseph. Joseph did not grumble and complain because he was in Egypt away from his family.  He faithfully served in the place the Lord had him.

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Goodness

god is goodThe fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… Gal 5:22 NIV

When reading fairy tales or watching movies, good usually triumphs over evil by the end of the story. Often in real life, our desire is for the happily ever after fairy tale ending. But even in movies or fairy tales, the hero or heroine has to overcome many obstacles before they achieve goodness.

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Finding Organic Health

I believe a new “organic” move of God is emerging in the West, which affirms the good things about organic/simple church but radically rejects the crazy stuff of the past.

Stuck in a Rut

With this new move, we are finally climbing out of our ruts and catching up with our “organic” brothers and sisters in the rest of the world – who never fell prey to the crazy stuff and thus moved far beyond us.¹

We also are seeing healthy connections form between fellowships in different regions, as locally-rooted leaders use Skype and other Internet tools to build mutually helpful relationships with each other.

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Patience

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… Gal 5:22

The King James Bible calls patience long suffering. Somehow to me patience sounds like a virtue to desire, but long suffering… well that sounds tentjpgtoo much like Job!

I think everyone would love to be able to say that they are patient, but probably none of us enjoy the process of long suffering that is required to actually become patient.

I believe the only way to grow in patience is to experience times of trials, disappointments, frustrations and failures. It is during these difficult stretches that the Lord enables the fruit of patience to grow strong.

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When “Intimacy with the Lord” Goes Bad

When “Intimacy with the Lord” Goes Bad is a must-read blog by Steve Crosby.

In the past, I was concerned with some of Steve’s blogs because they seemed to dance right up to the line with some of the “half grace” doctrines and existential nonsense going around these days.

With this blog, however, all’s forgiven! It strikes just the right balance between “being” and “doing”, which I’ve also tried to achieve in some of my own past blogs. But unlike me, he avoids obscure, big sounding words. ;-)

Plus, I love his swamp analogy – especially since I often use it myself when I teach!

Joy

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy… (Gal 5:22)

JoyJoy is a word that I believe is easily misunderstood.  Let me give you an example. About eleven years ago, I adopted my little dog. I named her Joy because her personality radiates joy.

One day a young workman came to my house. After he finished the repairs in the kitchen he asked me, “You named your dog after soap?” He was referring to the bottle of Joy detergent that was on my kitchen counter. I explained that she was not named after soap, but I named her because she always acted so joyful. He did not seem to really understand, but I think that is not as unusual as it may seem.

Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably and people assume that they cannot have joy unless they feel happy. I disagree.

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Love

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (I Cor 13:4-7)

The fruiarchery targett of the spirit is love….. (Gal 5:22)

The Lord’s kind of love is a seemingly impossible task. No one in themselves is able to sustain this love. I would like to say that this is the way that I love, but that would be a misrepresentation of the truth. My goal is to strive towards it.

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Ekklesia and Diverse Gifts, Part 2: The Imperative of Participation

When we meet together, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 say that we are to each contribute something. In fact, Paul repeatedly uses the imperative – a command – in telling us this.

Time and again Scripture exhorts us to avoid passivity. As such, God intends for our meetings to be incubators where we identify, develop and learn to use our gifts for our mutual growth and edification.

That’s because God’s gifts are not given for purely personal or individualistic purposes. Rather, when we meet we should be ministering to each other, each according to our unique gifts.  Using our gifts within the church, in turn, allows us to become a gift – to each other, the world and, most importantly, to Jesus.

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