Most believers can recite the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). Fewer people realize the purpose of the fruit. It is far more than a tool to make us better people.
When God’s power manifests through the Spirit’s fruit, it enables us to be His witnesses by:
- Attracting nonbelievers to the body of Christ
- Providing the relational qualities necessary for harmony within the church
- Protecting believers from the destructive consequences of sin.
An attractive invitation
Nothing makes the kingdom of God more compelling to unbelievers than Christians who demonstrate the Spirit’s life within them. Jesus said it this way:
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
A life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is powerful. Unbelievers are not nearly as impressed with what we say as they are with how we act, especially under pressure. Peter says a godly life “silences” our critics:
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:13-15, emphasis added).
A life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit cannot help but be noticed. It stands out like a candle in a dark room. It makes some people uncomfortable and others downright mad. But there will always be a handful who say, “There’s something different about you. What is it?”
The Holy Spirit’s power was directly associated with the early church’s ability to witness effectively (Acts 1:8). Today, our world desperately needs to see men and women whose lives transcend the norm. It needs husbands and wives who really love each other, and Christian businessmen and women who put honesty before profit. This generation needs to see young people who haven’t just said “no” to drugs but who have said “yes” to a life of purity.
In other words, the world needs to see the evident work of the Spirit in our lives. It is the fragrance that invites nonbelievers to become members of the body.
The Spirit also provides the relational qualities that enable members of the body to work together successfully.If the church is to accomplish God’s purposes—which includes sharing the gospel—there must be fruit.
Believers can fail to walk in the Spirit and yet still attempt to carry on the work of the church. When that happens, the result is similar to running an engine with no oil. A body of believers may have all the right gifts but without the Spirit’s empowerment, there will eventually be a breakdown—often, sadly, in the form of a church split.
On the other hand, when a group of Spirit-filled believers get together, there is a supernatural dynamic. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Things happen that have no human explanation. You can walk into such a group and feel the excitement and anticipation. It is the power of God being released as a result of His children’s willingness to allow His work in their lives. You see, our God loves to draw attention to fruit-bearing believers. Why? Because when people see our fruit, they glorify our Father in heaven.
The Holy Spirit produces in us the rare virtues of faithfulness and self-control as protection. Of the nine qualities Paul lists, these are the two I need the most when temptation comes knocking. Consequently, I have a tendency to try to produce them on my own.
Consistent victory in my life is never the result of my trying to become more self-controlled. Think about it. How can self become more self-controlled? Can a wild animal tame itself? Would a puppy ever give itself a bath? Of course not. These things run contrary to natural instinct. In the same way, self will never deny something desirable.
Victory occurs when I turn my attention to the things of the Spirit. As a result, self-control and faithfulness are produced in my life, and I experience the power necessary to overcome temptation. Only as we rely on the Spirit in this way can you and I testify successfully about God’s deliverance from sin.
Moving into position
The Holy Spirit wants to make you an effective witness for Christ. He is more than willing to manifest His power through you to accomplish that. But first, two things must be true: 1) you must be available to be used as a witness, and 2) you must bear fruit. Once these two elements are in place, you will be surprised and amazed at His power. He will fill you with boldness and give you the inspiration to share the gospel in fresh new ways.
The Holy Spirit is ready: He knows what is needed and He’s creative in making it happen. He is simply waiting for us to make ourselves available.
Adapted from “The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life” (1992).