Producing a character full of God’s Spirit
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples – John 15:8
It was a sobering moment when I realized that the fruit of the Spirit did not include how well I could preach or how effective I was at giving altar calls. Nowhere in the Bible could I find a Scripture that said, “By their gifts you will know them.”
I realized then that there could be no doubt I had been examined by the Lord and found lacking. Deep within me, I came to accept the fact that I had a long way to go in my spiritual walk. I needed some time to deal with my issues and to strengthen my inner person so my gift would not take me to a place where my character would not keep me.
Sadly, all too often I hear of destinies that have been sabotaged because Christians have focused on developing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives rather than seeking the fruit.
When the gifts of the Spirit on a person’s life are greater than the fruit of the Spirit in a person’s life, that life will begin to crumble. Let’s ensure that we are not only seeking spiritual gifts but also producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Nowhere in the Bible could I find a Scripture that said, “By their gifts you will know them.” How about “by their results you will know them”? What do we think defines us as Christians besides love?
I needed some time to deal with my issues and to strengthen my inner person so my gift would not take me to a place where my character would not keep me. The phrase “my character would not keep me” is a powerful statement to me. Who we are in our hearts is far more important that what we do in this life and we can get so carried away with what we’re called to do that we forget about who we’re called to be. We forget that we should be asking the Lord to try our heart.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you. – Psalm 26:2-3 (NRSV)
Sadly, all too often I hear of destinies that have been sabotaged because Christians have focused on developing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives rather than seeking the fruit. What are your gifts? What is your fruit? In a nutshell, the gifts are what you do and the fruit is who you are.
When the gifts of the Spirit on a person’s life are greater than the fruit of the Spirit in a person’s life, that life will begin to crumble. Gifts are given to help us serve others in our own unique way. We are constantly being challenged to step to the next level of our abilities. When we are walking with the Lord this can be a beautiful opportunity to know Him better and learn to love others more.
… From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. – Luke 12:48 (NRSV)
Sometimes, however, we should be taking an honest perusal of our hearts and minds and saying that maybe this step is not one we’re spiritually ready to take. At that point, what could have been a blessing is now a temptation. It has morphed to something that will not benefit us because, in order to go to the next level, we will have to use our strength and our effort and our talent to move there.
When we stop and humble ourselves before the Lord, we can take the next step in His strength, knowing His character will be in us and leading us forward.
The spiritual maturity this kind of self-aware activity takes is higher than the maturity level for Sunday morning pew-warmers. This kind of deep spirit trolling takes commitment and honesty in the presence of the Lord. This kind of maturity requires the ability to see God above ourselves, our circumstances, our emotions, and our desires.
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. – Psalm 22:2-3 (NRSV)
In Psalm 22:2-3, David clearly wasn’t having a warm-fuzzy feeling encounter with God here. He felt ignored, “you do not answer”. This wasn’t a casual conversation either, he was engaged intensely and was tired, “find no rest”. Reading on in Psalm 22, David is have more than just a bad day; he’s feeling near death. This isn’t an insignificant thing that he’s bringing before the Lord. He’s begging and pleading and pointing out the insufferable nature of his circumstances.
Such a small word but in this context, it tells so much about David’s view on God. David was exhausted and was praying prayers that went unanswered while being threatened by strong foes (Psalm 22:12,16), but it not dissuade him from seeing the grandeur and glory of God. He knew exactly where God was and who God was and didn’t allow the frustrations of his circumstances to bend that in the slightest.
That steadfastness is the spiritual maturity that we are required to have in order to face this kind of character work. We will not be able to be formed into the image of a holy God if we can’t get our eyes off ourselves long enough to look for Him.
When we are in that place, our character can grow and be transformed. Then we will be able to carry the load of fruit that God has planned for us. We will be able to step into the good works, our gifting, with ever-growing, ever-renewing strength.
Devotional, First Things First, from April 21, 2015 is copyright Christine Caine International. Used by permission.