Read His Words Before Ours!
For a long time I wrongly believed that in order to have the fruits of the Spirit flow from my life, I had to purpose in my heart to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, and all the rest. I thought my possessing Christ-like character required my first pulling myself up by my proverbial bootstraps and mustering up within myself the ability to live as the Spirit would have me live.
I blindly bought the lie that I just needed to try harder to be a “better version of myself”. This foray into legalism unfortunately lasted several years.
The lie that it “all depended upon me” doing better
never got me anywhere.
I’m sure you can imagine just how long my attempt to be a “better” person lasted! Within minutes of my feet hitting the floor on any given day, my dedication to be a more patient or loving person flew out the window as I lost my temper or allowed selfishness to reign supreme in my heart.
What I didn’t understand at the time, but am so passionate about sharing with women now, is this truth: The fruit of the Spirit is exactly that…a fruit of the Spirit, not of self.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. ….But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
If we want the fruits of the Spirit to be made manifest in our daily lives, we first must be walking by the Spirit (which we learn to do by reading the Word, praying, and listening for His voice). That is the prerequisite for those fruits becoming a natural part of our character. As we walk by the Spirit, who already resides in every believer, the manifestations of the Spirit will naturally rise to the surface in our lives.
No striving required!
The early church understood this reality.
Jesus had told them in Acts 1:8 they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.“
In Acts 3, Peter specifically testified to the reality of his power source after he healed a lame beggar by saying, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?”
Peter wasn’t attempting to perform great signs and wonders in his own strength.
Far from it!
He was operating from the power of the Holy Spirit as promised by Christ.
In Acts 4 we see what this kind of ministry was doing to the governing authorities of the time – they were getting angry!
They soon commanded the apostles to cease their healing ministries and refrain from proclaiming the name of Christ. In verses 29-31 the believers banded together and prayed, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants
to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders
are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
When they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, they continued to speak the word of God with boldness!
How would your life look different if you began to grasp the depth of power available within you as a temple of the Holy Spirit?
Would you cease your striving?
Would you proclaim truth with boldness?
Would you be more loving, patient, and kind?
Would you wake up with a sense of expectant readiness and excitement for all the Lord will accomplish in the day ahead?
Would you walk forward in joy, peace, and unwavering belief?
All of this and more can be said of every believer as we intentionally walk by the Spirit in everyday life. Don’t buy into the lie of the self-help gospel (which is no gospel at all!) that teaches you to rely on yourself and muster through.
That plan will neither succeed nor bear fruit.
What will bear much fruit is purposing to operate from the power of the Holy Spirit within our hearts every moment of every day, relying on His help, not self, to bring life and bear lasting fruit.
If that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!