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When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35).
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor 13:4-7).
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45).
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do 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. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another (Gal 5:19-26).
If you’ve read many of these blogs, you know that Rich Orrell, one of my mentors, is an extraordinarily wise man. This is yet another blog to come out of his discipling me.
When Rich was a young pastor, he went on a hospital visit. In those days, pastors always dressed up to go visit the hospital, so they were fairly recognizable. As he got into the elevator to leave, another family was in it, and he could tell the child with them was kind of scared. When the elevator started to drop, he saw the boy was uncomfortable with the sudden drop in his gut. Rich smiled at him and said, “Kind of makes your stomach fluttery, doesn’t it?” This helped the kid calm down a lot.
As they were leaving, the family was walking kind of slow, so Rich passed them. As he was walking away, he heard the boy say, “Daddy, I know who that man is! He’s Jesus!” His dad replied, “I don’t think that’s Jesus, but I’ll bet he works for him.”
These days, that story may seem kind of quaint. But there’s a few important things about it: first, it’s true, so whether it’s quaint or not is irrelevant. Second, it’s a fantastic illustration of how witness works!
Rich’s kindness and empathy showed this child the nature of Christ. So much so that the child thought he was Christ.
When people look at you, they see Christ. What are you showing them?
If you have the Spirit of God, if the Spirit lives in you, then the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in your life. You know those who belong to God by whether or not they show God’s characteristics. The fruit of the Spirit marks you as belonging to God.
The Spirit is a seal upon you, marking you as God’s own (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13).
What are you doing to grow more fruitful? As Jesus said, every branch in Christ that bears fruit, the Father prunes so it will bear more fruit (John 15:2).
What are you doing to cut out sexual immorality? What are you doing to cut out impurity and sensuality? How are you letting God cut idolatry from your life? How are you purging enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, and social divisions from yourself?
I doubt you’re dabbling in sorcery, but where are you practicing magical thinking? Where are you trying to manipulate things into going your way spiritually? Where are you saying, “If I do this, then God has to do this for me?” That’s magic, not Christianity.
How are you going to practice loving people better? How are you going to grow in love? How are you going to grow in peace and patience; kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness? How are you growing in self-control?
A great thing for this is spiritual disciplines. Solitude and silence—getting alone and quieting yourself to better hear God—are remarkable disciplines. If you want to grow closer to God, it goes a lot faster when you actually spend time focusing on him. Fasting helps grow self-control tremendously, as you learn to tame the desires of your body.
Do you practice the Sabbath? It’s one of the Ten Commandments. And if you break one of the commandments, you break them all (James 2:10). The Sabbath is for you (Mark 2:27), so use it! How can you grow in peace if you don’t take time for rest?
Secrecy helps you grow in humility. Secrecy is keeping your good deeds to yourself. With secrecy, you tame your desire for affirmation from other people, growing in faithfulness. Submission, coming under the authority of Christ, is a major discipline that helps you to rely entirely on Him.
Read your Bible. How can you know the will of God if you don’t read what God’s said? How can you test every spirit if you don’t know what the Spirit of God has to say in the first place?
Worship. Tell God how much you love Him. Grow in love. Pray. Spend time with God. Reflect. Search your innermost being to better know yourself, because God has made you, and God wants you to grow. Serve, and you will grow in goodness, faithfulness, and kindness.
And engage in friendship. Discipleship is a life-on-life interaction. As iron sharpens iron, sharpen your friends and be sharpened by them.
Do these things, and your spiritual fruit will grow. And as the fruits of the Spirit grow in your life, your life will show more and more of God.
What are you showing other people about who Christ is?