Summary: How do we know if the fruit of the Spirit is developing in our lives? I ask this question because nothing ever changes in our lives unless we have a sense of need or even desperation. Many of us are blind to our own weaknesses. Here are some simple steps in taking a self inventory
TAKING A SELF-INVENTORY
Is the Fruit of the Spirit developing in my life?
How do we know if the fruit of the Spirit is developing in our lives? I ask this question because nothing ever changes in our lives unless we have a sense of need or even desperation. Many of us are blind to our own weaknesses. Here are some simple steps in taking a self inventory
I. First, go to someone close to you who always has the courage to be honest with you. It may be your wife or husband, a child, a parent, a friend. Give him a sheet of paper with a list of these nine statements:
I am loving.
I am joyful.
I am peaceful.
I am patient.
I am kind.
I am a person of goodness.
I am faithful.
I am gentle.
I am self-controlled.
Ask him to evaluate whether or not he feels each statement is true of you.
II. Second, look carefully at how you react when you are stepped on. This test will help detect the presence or absence of the fruit of the Spirit. If you are mistreated - even when you are in the right - what comes forth? Love, joy, peace, patience, self-control? Or, anger, caustic comments, acid speech, get-even attitude, rebellion, depression?
The apostle Paul was kicked around. Most Bible scholars feel that the people to whom he wrote the Galatian letters were converted during his first missionary journey. (Acts 13,14) The journey was no picnic. John, Mark deserted (Acts 13,14); Paul came down with an illness that changed his itinerary and brought him to Galatia (Galatians 4:13); he was persecuted out of city after city; and once he was stoned by an angry mob who left him only when they though he was dead (Acts 14:19). During pressure points like these, we really learn whether or not we have the fruit of the Spirit. Some people relegate the fruit of the Spirit to be a possession of those who have the luxury to stay uninvolved with conflicts. Iused to think the fruit of the Spirit was the province of those who lived in a Southern antebellum mansion, came out on their bluegrass lawn in the afternoon to sit under spreading shade trees, and sip cool pink lemonade. On the other hand, the believer is to show the fruit of the Spirit when he is in the combat zone.
III. A third test of the presence of the Spirit-filled life is our speech. Show me a person who continually cuts down other people; whose words drip with sarcasm; yells, screams, and/or curses; and I’ll show you a person significantly lacking in the nine qualities embodied in the fruit of the Spirit. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”. (Matthew 12:34)
Applying such a self-inventory will show most of us we have room for further growth of Christ’s life in us. But how does this take place? I find many have some major confusions regarding development of the fruit of the Spirit. Some see agreement with doctrinal statements as evidence of the Christ life. While it is true you cannot be a Christian unless you accept the truths of Christ, accepting those truths does not mean your life will automatically manifest the presence of Christ. I know professing believers who could check yes to every doctrinal statement, but they continue to live as self-centered, egotistical, angry, bitter, violent-temper, discourteous and/or passive persons. Their theology may be orthodox, but their lifestyle heretical. On the other hand, when you really grasp the truth of God, your creed will affect your conduct. The Christian life is “Christ in you”, therefore, all wholesome life-style characteristics flow out of the nature and character of God himself. God always call us to place BEING ahead of DOING, lest we be in the position of begin rejected on Judgment Day because Christ never knew us. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THUS, by their fruit (not their gifts) you will recognize them”. (Matthew 7:29-20NIV). Writer Stuart Brisoe tells of his friend who as a young boy used an old fruit tree to escape his second-story bedroom window when he was punished by his father. One day the father announced he was going to cut down the old tree because for years it had borned no fruit. That night the boy and his friends purchased a bushel of apples and in the cover of darkness tied fruit to the unproductive branches. The next morning the father shouted to his wife, “Mary, I can’t believe my eyes. That old fruit tree that was barren for
years is covered with apples. It’s a miracle because it’s a pear tree”. Fruit comes out of root. When our lives are truly committed and sold out to God, they will bear the fruit of Christ because Christ is the root! To believers fascinated with the gifts of the Spirit, Paul wrote, “Eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (ICorinthians 12:31 NIV). That way is one of love, the fruit of the Spirit. Another confusion is to see the fruit of the Spirit as plural rather than singular. It is not the FRUITS of the Spirit, but the FRUIT. All believers are to bare the same fruit. Further, we do not have the option of