July 17-18, 2021
“By Their Fruit You Will Know Them”
I am not a touchy-feely kind of guy. Maybe it was all those Italian relatives pinching my cheeks or my Pappy’s slobbery “barleys” all over my face. To me, a hug or kiss is a way to show special people in your life their importance to you or a sexual form of communication. For those reasons, I am mainly a handshake guy.
I am also a fairly tall guy, and I like my space. On a recent last-minute business flight, I was stuck in the middle seat without the physical space I needed. There wasn’t enough room comfortably to work on my computer, and we were all wearing winter clothing, making it even more cramped. And while I haven’t taken my tape measure with me, I am quite sure the airlines take away an inch of seat width and an inch of legroom from us each year.
While I was feeling squished, a tall gentleman sat in the aisle seat next to me and began spreading out. His knee and elbow blatantly infringed on my small space. I was thinking it was going to be a very long flight. I debated whether I should educate him about seat etiquette. As I prayed about it for a moment, assessing my options, a much better choice surfaced. Better choices do surface when we prayerfully apply self-control to a situation.
I decided to talk with him. He was such a joy to talk to that I forgot all about being in a middle seat. He was filled with kindness and peace. It’s such a beautiful thing to see God in the face of others. We went back and forth so effortlessly that the flight seemed about 10 minutes long. I never noticed even a hint of physical discomfort, even though my circumstances were unchanged. I was able to share with him what I do and the impact of Jesus and the Bible on the human brain and our daily lives.
Our natural inclination is to see life from a me-centered perspective. As a result, we focus on the pursuit of comfort, not the pursuit of God’s appointments. My initial attitude toward this kind man was so poor and me-centered, with no thought of God’s presence or of introducing God to him. Perspectives and attitudes like that can squelch opportunities to experience God in ourselves or through others.
Religious groups will give you all sorts of ways to know if you have the Holy Spirit. Jesus has one simple answer: “By their fruit you will know them.” Paul gives us the definition of holy fruit: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL.
Today, repeat the list of holy fruit aloud and ask the Lord to make it true in you. Then, take the next step and humbly confess any sin in your life since your last confession. You can even use the approach, “and I confess all my unknown sins and seek to turn from those activities.” Then the Holy Spirit is back on the throne of your heart, opening your ears to His voice and guidance. As you follow Him by being a Godly decision-maker, this amazing fruit will be yours to taste and enjoy, and it will truly satisfy the desires of your heart. The alternative route, the fruit of the flesh, will rot in your belly and destroy you. Whether you feast on the fruit of the Spirit or you starve while gorging on the fruit of the flesh is your decision, so choose well.
Father God, thank You for Your constant presence. Thank You for Your answers to my prayers. And thank You, Father, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is through the Spirit I call upon You. Please fill me more with Your Holy Spirit and every characteristic You possess. I want to exhibit the qualities of that man You seated next to me on that flight. I want to be like Your Son, Jesus, who lived out the fruit, and in whose name I pray. And all God’s children say AMEN!
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-25
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:4-5