During this series, we have been looking at the activity of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life and ministry. We know that the Holy Spirit is present in every Christian’s life, just like He was in Jesus’ life. Before Jesus came to earth, the Holy Spirit ‘fell on prophets of old,’ but since Jesus’ time, the Holy Spirit has been on all people (see Hebrews 1:1 and Joel 2:28). We also know that the job of the Holy Spirit is 2-fold, the first is personal to each Christian to comfort, help us and teach us to be like Christ (John 14:26). In the first 7 articles of this series, we have looked at the personal side of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, as He was helping and teaching Jesus during His ministry.
Now we will look at the other side of the Holy Spirit’s job. The second part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to work through us to spread the Gospel to the rest of the world. We are told in the Bible about the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit and the manifestations of the Spirit, all which are ways that the Holy Spirit works in us and through us to bring people to God. My plan is to cover a few of these with each article, and we will start with the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5 states that when we ‘walk in step with the Holy Spirit,’ God begins to change our hearts and our attitudes. This is called living by the Spirit, and as we spend more and more time with God, we stop ‘living according to the desires of the flesh.’ Remember that in Galatians 5:18, Paul contrasts living according to the flesh with living according to the Spirit. We know that Jesus himself always walked according to the Holy Spirit’ leading, and that is why He is our example for how to live in step with the Holy Spirit.
So, let’s look at the first 3 on this list of fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians says that love, joy and peace are all the results of walking close to God, therefore, let’s see how Jesus (who always was walking close to God) exemplified these 3 things in His life. Concerning love, the opposite (or un-godly way to live) is ‘hatred, selfish ambition, jealousy and envy (Gal 5:19-20).’ Love is the easiest to see in Jesus’ life, that was all He was. My pastor says that Satan set out to proof that God was not love, but in the end, as Jesus’ life was ending, still, the only thing dripping with His blood was love. We can see His love, not just at the cross, but also in the way He dealt with people. One of my favorite stories is when the woman ‘caught’ (more like ‘set-up’) in adultery is brought to Jesus. The religious leaders created a situation where Jesus could keep the law or choose to be loving. He choose to be loving. His love for her flows in the way He talks, the way He doesn’t judge harshly and even how He talks to her accusers. Our words are the best way to see if we are walking in step with the Holy Spirit, and it is clear in this situation (and others) that Jesus was showing the love of God that comes from listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Concerning peace, the fleshly-opposite way of behaving is to have ‘discord, fits of rage, envy and dissensions (Gal 5:19-20).’ When I first started thinking about this fruit of the Spirit, wasn’t sure where to go with it, but then God reminded me of 2 stories in the Gospels. In Matthew 14:13-21 and 15:32-16:10, there are 2 instances that record the numbers of the crowds following Jesus. They were spending days following Him, waiting on His teaching, needing healing. At some point, in both stories, Jesus realized the people needed to eat and asked His disciples to sit the people down and feed them. Here’s the thing – the crowds listened! There were 4,000 men (plus women and children) in one instance and 5,000 men in the other instance and they all sat down and waited on dinner. The verbiage implies that everyone was quiet and still, because they could hear Jesus and the disciples looking for someone with food. People will not be still and silent, if the leader is chaotic or having fits of rage or there is fighting. Jesus was exuding so much peace, that over 5,000 people were willing to sit down in peace and have a lunch. This is how we should be seeing the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Concerning joy, the opposite is … I am not sure it’s directly on the list in Gal. 5, but it’s misery, negativity, complaining and self-victimizing (as in – having a ‘nothing ever works out’ type of personality). Joy is the choice to see life positively, to know that your emotions do not have to decide your behavior or reactions to situations. Being joyful is not the normal way we want to live and it is shown in the Bible to be directly related to our relationship with God. Jesus had joy all the time, spoke about people having joy in His parables and commanded us to have joy in all situations. Jesus even prayed joyfully, as seen in Luke 10:21. Concerning tribulation and trials, Jesus commanded us to “rejoice in the day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven (Luke 6:22-23).” Just like Jesus, we should see our joy increase and our attitude begin to change as we spend more and more time walking in step with the Holy Spirit.
In looking at the these 3 attributes, remember the fruit of the Spirit should be our FIRST pursuit. The gifts and manifestations will come as we grow with God, but they are more ‘power-plays,’ while the fruits are more of the everyday changes. What’s more is that the Bible says that “…it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… .You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free (Gal 5:1 & 13).” I love these verses! The fruits of the Spirit is more than just character changes, they are freedom! Think about it – walking closer to God is going to give you love, joy and peace! Who doesn’t want more love, joy and peace in their lives? When I began considering these characteristics of the Holy Spirit, I wondered how often are you living in the Spirit in these areas? Seriously – can people tell you are a Christian just based on your love, peace and joy? Honestly, in my life, I am not sure ANYONE can tell I am walking with God based on these 3 fruits. OUCH! Yes, I wrote this for myself, I need to spend more time with God and I need to be seeking to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. So, how about you? How is the harvest stacking up for your walk with God? Leave your answers below of how you are walking (or working on walking) in step with the Holy Spirit.