God has so much planned for us.
When I sat down to write this post I had a completely different concept in mind. I was going to outline each fruit with a summary of the full posts.
Instead. I want to talk about The Spirit of God, and His sovereignty.
Life has a way of throwing things at us over and over and over again, and expecting us to just take it. We’re tired, we’re stressed, we’re uncertain, and generally I feel like we’re all just kind of taking things one step at a time. That’s all we can do, right?
I’ve lived by that concept for years, and only this year am I realizing that only “taking one more step” is not enough. It’s not enough to take that step on our own.
We have to take that step with God.
Walking in the Spirit
How many times have you been walking on flat ground and tripped on your own feet? I promise, I’ve been there hundreds of times. It’s frustrating and sometimes painfully embarrassing, even though we KNOW everyone does it from time to time.
A part of being human is faltering and falling. But we can become stronger and more sure-footed when we put our trust and our purpose in the gospel, and in Christ.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”Galatians 5:16
The desires of the flesh are listed out in the next few verses after Galatians 5:16, all of them encompassed by selfishness, jealousy, and pride. We focus so much on ourselves that we don’t consider God.
Do you think God goes even a second without considering us?
That’s why He’s given us the Spirit to walk with. He is our guide, leading us so we don’t stumble and fall, so that we can cultivate the fruits and gifts He has determined for us.
1 Corinthians 12:11 tells us that “All these (gifts of the Spirit) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”
In Romans, Paul tells us that “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14).
We belong to God, and because of that He has given us the Spirit to lead and guide us. We have been given spiritual gifts by the Spirit to help us cultivate the fruits of the Spirit that we’ve outlined the last ten months.
When growing fruit trees, cultivation is ridiculously important. You want to make sure you have the right soil, location, environment, and irrigation system in place so that the fruit tree can reach a proper root-depth. These fruit trees usually need about three feet of root growth to be strong enough to start growing fruit.
Compare that to yourself now, as God does in the Bible. We have to have an “irrigation” system in place to help feed and water our souls so that we can continue to grow stronger and healthier in our faith and fruits. We are fruit trees, and must put ourselves in the proper environment, location, and in the right soil.
A proper environment for a Christian is one surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ. We are told in the Bible that we have brothers and sisters around the world struggling with the same obstacles we do. Surrounding ourselves with other believers fosters an attitude of growth and inspiration.
The soil we should be planted in is the word, which nurtures our souls and feeds our minds. It keeps us alive and strong, and we become stronger the deeper we grow in it.
The irrigation system for a Christian could be many things, from personal conviction (or, rather, the conviction of the Holy Spirit), to family members and mentors who keep us accountable against the word of God. This weeds out the bad habits and influences, and builds or strengthens the systems and influences that help us grow stronger in our faith.
I came across an article discussing the process of cultivating fruits, and this section popped into view:
“Pruning is the removal of parts of a plant to influence growth and fruitfulness. It is an important fruit-growing practice. Primary attention is given to form in the first few years after fruit trees or vines are planted. Form influences strength and longevity of the mature plant as well as efficiency of other fruit-growing practices; pruning for form is called training. As the plant approaches maximum fruitfulness and fills its allotted space, maintenance pruning for various purposes becomes increasingly important.”
Have you ever considered pruning for the sake of your spiritual growth? Pulling out the bad habits, unhealthy friend groups, uninspiring TV shows, or even music that is detrimental to your growth? These bad habits take our attention away from God and towards the world. They determine where our thoughts will be, and draw our focus onto ourselves and the people around us, rather than onto the scriptures and the promises of our Father.
In our first few years of cultivation this is extremely important, because it provides the soil which we grow into the rest of our lives.
Crucify the Flesh
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”Galatians 5:24
I don’t know if you’ve ever studied the crucifixion or the practice of crucifying. But essentially, the reason it is so horrible, and why it was reserved for criminals, was because of just how slow and painful it was.
Besides being nailed hand and foot (or wrist and ankle, likely) to thick pieces of wood, the criminals would then be hoisted into the air (often naked) the full weight of their body hanging on the nails. This would stretch out their shoulders, sometimes dislocating them, and force their body to hang limp because you couldn’t really fight against it (at least not for long.) It often took days for the people to die this way, hunger and thirst taking as much a toll as the cross itself.
This, as horrible as it is, is exactly what we want to do with our sinful selves. We deserve this and so much worse for rebelling against our Father in heaven, except that Christ did it for us!
“For the people of Christ, the cross broke the grip of the laws and also the grip of the flesh. By faith, they recognize the reality of their union with Christ in His death. So, too, they have been raised to new life in the Spirit of Christ and therefore walk in the Spirit.”
ESV Study Bible footnotes
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.Ephesians 2:1-7
”BUT GOD being rich in MERCY, because of the GREAT LOVE with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
God has provided everything for us, even the sacrifice that was necessary for us to be able to grow in the Spirit.
We didn’t deserve that, we hadn’t earned it, we aren’t that good. No matter how you look at it, the gift of God’s Spirit is exactly that: a gift.
God is rich in mercy meaning that His mercy overflows, it is abundant. Mercy is a gift, it is the withholding of a punishment we have earned.
God is faithful. God will not leave us to our own demise. We are His, and He will continue to care for us because He is faithful and consistent in character.
God is Sovereign
“No temptation has taken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”Romans 10:13
Sovereignty is a word we throw around a lot in Christian circles. Essentially, it means God has complete control and power over the universe that He has created.
This is a comforting thought, that God does in fact know all and see all, even when we don’t feel it.
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”Isaiah 46:8-10
There is no one like God, no one Who can create out of nothing and speak into existence things that we couldn’t even imagine. There is no one who can save the entire world—past and present—from sin and death. Except Christ.
“He has caused His wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.Psalm 111:4-9
He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever.
He has shown His people the power of His works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy;
They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is His name!”
We are provided for and cared for, loved even, by God who is “rich in mercy and abundant in lovingkindness,” and so we are in good hands.
Spirit Lives in Us
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”1 Corinthians 3:16
We hear all the time in Christian circles that we can do things “with God” and that things are possible when we have “God on our side.”
But what does that really mean? Obviously we normally don’t see a physical presence of God walking beside us. Christ isn’t currently walking the earth in human form. So what do we mean when we say we have God with us?
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”Acts 2:1-4
The signs they witnessed here were evidence of the presence of God. We often get caught up in the details of the little flames or speaking in tongues, but imagine simply the full presence of God and how that is manifested here.
This is how God walks with us, as God the Spirit within us. He is a gift to us, as we see promised in Joel 2:28-32 and Isaiah 44:3-8. The presence of the Spirit is as comfort, as living water, as Helper, and as guide. John 16 tells us in beautiful detail the role of the Spirit has in our lives, and how as an individual member of the Trinity, He acts independently under the authority of God.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.”John 16:7
The plans of God are perfectly orchestrated to provide for His people. In His sovereignty He has provided a way for our salvation and a destination for our eternity. We will not be forgotten by our Lord, our Father, our Savior.
The Spirit Cultivates With Us
As we close out this series on the Fruits of the Spirit, I hope you always remember the reality of the presence of the Spirit within us. Go back and meditate on each fruit, allowing the Spirit to guide you in your walk with Christ.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Each fruit is crucial and important for your spiritual growth. If we allow the Spirit to influence our lives and live with the fruits in mind, the Spirit of God will be with us every step of the way.
He is a constant presence cultivating our growth and feeding our souls. We can find comfort in the fact that we do not have to rely on our own strength or ability to live as Christians, but that we can lean on God and His perfect, sovereign will.
A Prayer for all us Mountain Goats
My prayer for you is that you would take what you’ve studied and heard, and apply it to your life. I pray that you and I would both acknowledge the constant presence of the Spirit and recognize His help in cultivating our fruit. I pray that we would reflect the fruits of the Spirit in so much grace that it stands out from others around us. And I pray that through this, we would each grow closer to God hour by hour, day by day.