Doctors are discovering more and more that fruit should be included in our diet for good health. The Food Guide Pyramid bears out the importance of fruit. According to this food pyramid, a daily portion of two to four servings of fruit should be in our diet. Perhaps this is why one of the first things you come to in a grocery store is fruit.
The same should be true in the life of the believer. All the fruits of the Spirit should be seen in our life because of our relationship with God. The fruits are unlike the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts are given selectively. Not all Christians have the same gifts or use the same gift the same way. God matches the gift to our personality and to our uniqueness.
The fruits of the Spirit are not like this. All of the fruits should be evident in the Christian’s life. We all have the power and ability to produce these fruits and thereby bring honor and glory to God. By manifesting these fruits, we give witness and testimony to what he has done and is doing in our life.
We Should Produce Faithfulness
To be faithful is to be loyal and trustworthy. This does not refer to faith as exercised by the child of God. All Christians have already exercised this faith when they trusted Christ as their Savior. It speaks of faithfulness produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian who is yielded to God. This is one of the surest tests of our character.
Jesus is our great example. The Bible says he “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7).
Jesus had all the glory of heaven. He was with the Father, yet he gave this up for a time because God’s desire was for him to come to earth and die to show God’s love for humanity. There was a great depth in the incarnation. Paul tells us in Ephesians that before Christ could ascend after his resurrection, he had to descend, and this he did to the lower parts of the earth. He left his throne in glory to come and die for sinful mankind. He was faithful to what God the Father wanted him to do.
Jesus taught the necessity of faithfulness in his parable of the talents. He tells of a man traveling to a far country. He calls his servants and entrusts his goods to them. He gives one five talents, another two, and another one. The one given the five puts them to good use and makes five more. The one given two did the same thing. But the servant who was given one dug a hole and hid the money in the ground. When the master returned, this servant drew a sharp rebuke from him because of his actions. The master, in turn, takes the talent and gives it to the one who has ten. Jesus said; “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29).
Faithfulness also involves adhering to what is right. It means recognizing there is a difference between right and wrong and sticking to the right. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves compromising. It is tempting to compromise our faith in some way if it is to our benefit. In the third epistle of John, John compliments Demetrius because of his faithfulness in word, truth, precept, and practice. Compromise is a dangerous but familiar landmine for the believer.
Faithfulness also entails being faithful God’s plan for our life. The full blessings of God can only fall when we are faithful to his plan for our life.
God selected Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. The journey from Egypt to Canaan should have taken only a few months, but because of unfaithfulness on their part, it took much longer. The majority of the spies sent into the land said they could not take the land. A failure to be faithful to God’s plan in this matter led to forty years of wandering in the wilderness.
Being faithful also leads to spiritual growth. Many times a young person when they become a certain age will want all privileges that adults have but not the responsibilities. Sometimes we want all the blessings of God, but we do not want the responsibility of being faithful to him. We cannot grow spiritually when this is the case.
Abraham was a good example of faithfulness. God called him from his land to go to a land he had never seen before. He left not knowing where he was going. The Bible says of him; “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
We can test our faithfulness in several ways: by our time spent in God’s Word, by our time spent in prayer, and by our effort to live a righteous lifestyle. Paul was able to say; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).
We Should Produce Gentleness
Gentleness is sometimes translated meekness. It is a humble and gentle attitude that pervades us even when offended by others. It carries no desire for revenge or retribution no matter what the offense committed. The New Testament uses it to describe three attitudes: a submission to the will of God, a willingness to be taught, and consideration for other people.
The Bible says, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Gentleness carries the idea of mildness in dealing with others. It does not mean to be weak, timid, or spiritless. It is power under control.
God is the source of this as well as all other fruits. Jesus said; “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus showed such an attitude in his actions. In spite of being accused falsely, mocked, spit on, beaten, and nailed to a cross, he displayed a spirit of gentleness all the way to the end.
There are some guidelines we must follow to have a gentle spirit. We must not rise up defensively when others hurt our feelings. We must not have a craving for preeminence but must be willing for God to receive all the glory from our lives. We must not seek high regard or recognition.
Jesus said of the meek or gentle; “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
We Should Produce Self-Control
Self-control is our ability to restrain passions and appetites. If we are going to know perfect holiness, we must exercise self-control. The Greek word means strong, having mastery, and being able to control one’s thoughts and actions. Physical and mental appetites can destroy this fruit.
Alcohol is one thing that appeals to the physical appetite of many. It causes people to kill themselves and others. Alcohol-related accidents kill many people. Alcohol leads to the breakup of families. And then there are the physical diseases that can result from too much drink. The Bible says; “Wine is a mocker, Intoxicating drink arouses brawling, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
We also need self-control in the area of unkindness, gossip, pride, and jealousy. Instead, we should set our minds on spiritual things. Paul said; “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).
Self-control is also needed in the area of eating. Many bring on physical problems or at least increase their risk because they do not eat right. Self-control must also be used in the area of sexual matters. This too is an area where self-control certainly needs enhancing today. The high number of abortions and out of wedlock births attests to this. Even within the bounds of marriage, there must still be self-control.
In the matter of our tempers, we need self-control. The Bible says; “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
Just as the athlete must condition his body through rigorous training and practice to be ready to compete, so as Christians we must train our bodies through self-control so we can prepare ourselves for the work of God.