Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Spiritual Fruit

Thanks for the comments yesterday. I'm not too sure what I was looking for, but you guys are right. Most of you wouldn't know me from Adam if I ran into you on the street, so it would be really difficult for you to comment as to what you see God doing in my life and the changes that He is making in me. But that's my goal for the next couple of weeks: ask people close to me what they see Him doing in me. I'll be sure to let you all know what they say.

Also, I got my grades for the semester back today (at least tentative ones). The worst I did is a 3.5 GPA, but it's possible that I may have even pulled off a 4.0! I can't believe it. I'll know for sure next week. I'll be beyond thrilled even with a 3.5.

But on with the post.....

I've been working through some of Paul's letters recently. Particularly the parts of those letters that deal with his suffering and the battle between flesh and spirit. In Romans 8, I think it's clear that Paul is talking about how it's up to us to choose between flesh and spirit. There is nothing that forces us to choose to do things that are sinful; things of the flesh. But the Spirit is in us, and if we choose those things of the Spirit, it allows Him to work in us in ways that we had not imagined.

Today in counseling, we were again looking at these passages and others by Paul. My minister mentioned that we often look at Philippians as the "joy" book, which it is. But he said that we often forget that the background to this book is Paul's suffering and pain. We forget everything that Paul gave up in order to become a Christ follower. We forget that he was often beaten, that he gave up a very prestigious career with the San hedrin (sp?), and that he probably even gave up relationships with family and friends. So, on with Philippians 4:4-13:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."


I read this over and over to myself today, especially the first paragraph. It seems to me as if this is something you have to work at, through prayer and petition. And the more I read it, the more I realized that this is the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galations 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Rejoice = joy
Gentleness = gentleness
Do not be anxious = patience
prayer and petition = faithfulness
peace = peace

I may be way off here, but maybe I'm not. I mean, Paul did write both letters, so it's very unlikely that his theology would change, especially considering that this is the Bible.

I have never been taught that the fruit of the Spirit is something you have to work at. I've always thought (and it's never been challenged) that once you accept Christ, the fruit of the Spirit should come naturally to you. That you can tell other Christians by the fruit they bear and if the Spiritual fruit is evident in their lives. This was always so difficult for me because some of these come very difficult and I struggle with them. It's been a major area of doubt for me. I didn't have all of the fruit of the Spirit, so I've doubted my Christianity. I've doubted the Spirit's work in my life. But Paul seems to change that line of thought. After reading Romans 8 and this passage over and over again, I think I get it. I think that I realize now that the fruit of the Spirit isn't something that comes naturally to us. It's something that happens only when we really pray about it and strive after it, and it's a daily work.

I don't want to delude myself. I don't want to make scripture say something that it doesn't so that I can feel better about my faith. But maybe I've seen some truth here that will help one of you.

Thoughts?

3 Comments:

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Tony Arnold said...

If the fruit of Spirit comes naturally, then I am very un-natural.

I have to work mighty hard at that list, but the effort, although spiritually tiring at times, is rewarding.

One of my biggest problems is patience. I pray for patience everyday. God please grant me patience--right now!

Tony

 
At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amanda, I felt sad reading that you have had doubts about your Christianity when you didn't see the fruits of the Spirit always present in yourself--especially since I see faith, goodness, etc. strewn throughout your writing. You may truly have helped others in sharing your realization that we need to work just as farmers and orchard tenders work. Apparently it doesn't just "happen."

In some personal reading this morning, I thought of your post on Oct. 31, about the dream giver. Richard Foster, in writing about service, lists the types of service, with one being the service of small things. He says, "The great virtues are a rare occurrence; the ministry of small things is a daily service. Large tasks require great sacrifice for a moment; small things require constant sacrifice." He quotes Fenelon: "It is not elevation of the spirit to feel contempt for small things. It is, on the contrary, because of too narrow points of view that we consider as little what has such far reaching consequences." Maybe the good you do regularly is way bigger than the Big Dream for future big works for God. May God give you a vision of how wonderful you are right now just the way you are.

 
At 7:16 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

Amanda,

The Bible Study I am currently taking is called, The Fruit of the Spirit. I would like to share a lot of the information I have learned with you, so I will drop you an email.

Simply said, it is not something that JUST HAPPENS. Far from it.

Every hear the Steven Curtis Chapman song "Fingerprints of God?"

That is you, girl. Every aspect of yourself shines with His love.

{{{ HUGS }}}

~Andrea

 

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