Sunday, October 4, 2015

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT -3-

Galatians 5: 22-26

You see, only Jesus can live a life pleasing to his Father. We are all flops and failures that disappoint God, even though we are reluctant to admit it. Well, who of us would wish to do that? After all, we do claim to be his disciples. Who wants to put on the mantel of a failure? But until we swallow our pride and climb down from our pedestal and admit it, we are unlikely ever to be totally dependant on Jesus Christ like a branch is to a vine, and we will not know what it is to have Christ do what only he can do by living his life within us.

The great Charles Wesley admitted it;

I have long withstood his grace,
Long provoked him to his face,
Would not hearken to his calls,
Grieved him by a thousand falls. SASB 286

and again

Just and holy is thy name,
I am all unrighteousness,
False and full of sin I am,
Thou art full of truth and grace.  SASB 737

and our own William Booth admitted it

My tempers are fitful, my passions are strong,
They blind my poor soul and they force me to wrong.
                                              SASB 298
and again

Now tossed with temptation, then haunted with fears,
My life has been joyless and useless for years.

These are Christians, God's people who recognised their need to be filled with, immersed in and saturated with the Holy Spirit. The marvellous thing is that despite us being helpless flops and failures, God hasn't given up on us. He loves us and has a remedy, a means of escape from the frustrating and hopeless situation we find ourselves in. He doesn't merely want us to try and mimic his Son Jesus and do as he taught. He wants us to have an intimate relationship with him whereby we abide in him and, through his Holy Spirit, he abides in us and lives his life through us.

The natural result of all of this, of being filled with God's Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, of abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in us, is that we develop a Christlike character. He becomes greater as we become less. The branch of an apple tree naturally produces apples. It doesn't involve stress and strain on the part of the branch. The fruit it bears confirms the branch's relationship to the tree, and shows that the tree's sap is flowing through the branch. When the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that was and is in Christ, fills a person, it is most easily observed in the Christlike character of the person, what is often termed the fruit of the Spirit displaying itself in person's life. Galatians 5:22 describes that fruit of a Spirit-filled life, that Christlikeness – (note it is fruit not fruits) - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What is being described is the love of Christ, the joy of Christ, the peace of Christ, the patience of Christ, the kindness of Christ, the goodness of Christ, the faithfulness of Christ, and the  gentleness and self-control of Christ. I am sure these are but a sample of the terms that could have been used to describe Christ's character and nature. 

I have heard Christians pray for more love, more patience, more self-control. That is to be wanting a bit of Christ's nature where we judge ourselves to fall short. Our real prayer ought to be something like, 'Lord empty me of me and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Fill me with the Spirit that filled Jesus. Make my life so connected with you, indeed an extension  like a branch to a vine, that all that is in you might flow through me. Lord, show me how it is not about me and what I can do for you, what I can achieve for you, but about surrendering myself completely and being emptied of ME and filled with you....your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus living his life in and through me.'Amen



Howard Webber
Bournemouth UK

No comments: