In Galatians chapter 5, the apostle Paul tells us about the fruits of the Spirit, those traits in the Christian life that get played out in real life with the help of the Spirit of God who lives within us. They are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Easy list to learn; not always so easy to do.
So how are to learn these fruits, and most importantly, to live them? In the interest of time, let me just say that the answer is easy: follow Jesus’ example. Once again, it is easy to say, but more difficult to do. Let me demonstrate how this worked out in Jesus’ life.
In Luke 4:1-13, we read of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. For 40 days the devil hounded Jesus to fail just once. He never did. What Jesus learned there in the wilderness was patience and faithfulness. He knew His mission; He knew why He was here; and He demonstrated faithfulness and learned patience by what He suffered.
Jesus also thought about others. In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus healed ten lepers. That was the ancient equivalent of AIDS. It made people total outcasts from society. The rest of society was not even to come near a leper. But Jesus healed ten of them. Why? He was kind and good. It’s that simple. You know, we can be kind and good, too. It doesn’t take much. Put a quarter in the meter for someone; open a door, help carry a load, speak kindly to a child. We don’t have the power to heal diseases, but we can demonstrate goodness and kindness. Jesus did; how about you?
Next we see Jesus performing one of His greatest miracles: the stilling of the stormy seas. In Luke 8:22-25, Jesus and the apostles are out in a boat when a storm suddenly arises. Not a surprise to the fishermen on board, but this storm was so severe that the men thought they were going to drown, so they awakened Jesus to do something. He did more than they could have imagined. He spoke to the storm in no uncertain terms and told it to calm down. It did! Jesus power calmed the storm, but terrified the men. “What manner of man is this that even the wind and waves obey Him?” What manner indeed! Jesus is a man of peace and joy. He not only brings peace to a troubles sea, He brings joy and peace to troubled souls. Do you trust Him today? Do you know the peace only He can bring? You can, you know, if you’ll allow Him to bring peace to your life.
Perhaps the greatest example of Jesus’ demonstration of the fruits of the Spirit was when He was arrested. In Mark 14:32-51, Jesus knew what was coming: the pain, the beatings, the crucifixion. When the temple authorities showed up to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out a sword and lopped of the ear of Malchus, the servant to the high priest. Jesus, who could have called legions of angels, opted instead to heal the ear of Malchus and told Peter to put away his sword. Jesus demonstrated incredible self-control. He loved us, even those who had come to arrest Him, enough to go to the cross without a fight. They didn’t take Him; He went voluntarily. He is the epitome of gentleness and self-control. How about you? What do you do when things get tough? Follow Jesus example and turn the other cheek. You heavenly Father will take notice.
Finally, Jesus demonstrated his love and concern for others, even as He was carrying His cross and then being nailed to it. In Luke 23:26-43, we see Jesus thinking of others even as He was suffering Himself. He looks at a group of women and warns them about what is to come, and in doing so gives them the opportunity to know that He is the solution for what lies ahead. And while hanging on that cross, Jesus offers eternal life to a thief that, unlike Jesus, actually deserved to die for what He had done. Jesus loved others even to the very end. That thief, still living under the OT law, entered paradise, that is, heaven, on the same day that Jesus did. Loving others is the greatest example of loving God. Jesus set the standard for us all.
Want to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit? Follow Jesus’ example.
— Tim Secrist is pastor of the Crooked Creek Church of Christ and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association. He can be reached at 304-752-3957 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.