As I wait for my favorite summer fruits to arrive at our local HEB, I was perusing my updates from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and discovered this message about Spiritual Fruit. Thought I would share it with you with the general permission of BGEA. I hope each of you gets something out of – I sure did!
~ Grow ~
The Bible lists nine fruits of the Spirit. Each one can help us grow in our relationship with 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” – Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV).
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Bible says we receive supernatural help from the Holy Spirit. Because of that help, we can become more like Jesus, showing nine key characteristics – the fruits of the Spirit – in our daily lives.
1. Love. It’s no coincidence that love is the first fruit listed in Galatians chapter 5. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and love one another (Mark 12:30-31). When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves, we show the world we belong to Jesus.
- Until you know God loves you, it will be difficult to love God and love others. Whether you’ve never heard that God loves you or you just need a reminder, watch this short, powerful video about God’s amazing love for you.
- Our culture uses the word “love” so casually (“I love your dress!” “I love cheeseburgers!”), it can be hard to identify the kind of love Jesus spoke about in the Bible. What does it look like to love God with all we have? Like any relationship, love means setting aside time. Take time to talk with God and get to know Him through the Bible.
- Once we love God, we can love others. But love isn’t just something to talk about; Jesus taught us to show our love through actions. Find ways to love people through acts of service. Even a simple phone call can make a difference. Then share God’s love with others. Know someone who’s hard to love? This Answer from Billy Graham may help.
2. Joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice” – Philippians 4:4. It’s easy to rejoice when things are going our way. It’s a different story when life is hard. But followers of Jesus are called to have joy all the time – not just when life is good.
- One of the keys to being joyful is knowing why we rejoice. We don’t rejoice in our money, jobs, vacations or even our relationships. We must rejoice in the Lord. Billy Graham’s audio message, The Secret of Joy in Tribulation, addresses how to have joy even in the toughest times.
- Billy Graham said, “Only the forward-looking Christian remains sincerely optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ will win in the end.” Is your focus on the problems of this world, or the eternal joy that is to come? If you find yourself focusing on negatives, redirect your thoughts to Jesus and the promise of heaven. (Watch the video, “Heaven”.)
- If Christ followers are called to be joyful, why are some Christians so grumpy? Billy Graham’s Answer.
3. Peace. Like the word “love,” “peace” is a word that has become casual and hard to define. But true peace comes from God, and there’s nothing like it.
- “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” – John 16:33. Jesus spoke those words thousands of years ago, but they’re still meant for us today. Check yourself. Does your peace come from trusting Jesus, or does it come from your circumstances?
- It seems more people than ever suffer from anxiety. But you can have peace when you train yourself to focus on God instead of yourself or the world around you. Start with reading and memorizing Philippians 4:6-9, which explains how to replace anxiety with the peace of God.
- Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” – Matthew 5:9. In this Answer, Billy Graham talks about whether world peace is possible. We should pray for peace throughout the world, but we also can’t forget about our own backyard. Is there strife within your own family or workplace? Be a peacemaker there.
4. Patience. Living in this fast-paced world can give you a short fuse. Still, impatience isn’t something you want to brush off as a minor personality flaw. If you find yourself getting annoyed, worried or intolerant while waiting on people, imagine how much more those negative emotions can escalate while you’re waiting on the Lord.
- Don’t think you have what it takes to be a patient person? All the more reason to submit this tough area to God. See what the Bible says about patience and why you can’t develop this trait on your own.
- In some translations, the word “long-suffering” is used in place of “peace” in Galatians 5:22. Both patience and long-suffering deal with endurance – a necessary companion for your faith walk. In this Ruth Bell Graham writing, she uses the example of windsurfing to show the importance of patience, endurance and divine guidance.
- God exercises more patience than we ever could. No matter how many times you mess up, God won’t run out of patience with you. This answer from Billy Graham is a great reminder of God’s unfailing love.
5. Kindness. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “count others more significant than yourselves” and “look to the interests of others.” Kindness is about more than being cordial. It’s an intentional act that requires effort and genuine concern. These reminders can help you become a kinder person.
- Make room to be kind to others. Give compliments. Talk to strangers beyond saying, “Hello.” Make extra effort this week to recognize opportunities to demonstrate kindness, and then follow through. Take note of how it impacts you and others.
- “People take my kindness for weakness.” Sound familiar? There’s nothing weak about being kind to others. In fact, it takes a great degree of humility to consistently live this way. Read Billy Graham’s devotion on the strength of having compassion for others.
- When you totally give your life to Christ, your old ways no longer matter. With the help of God, you can embody the attributes of a kind person.
6. Goodness. To practice goodness, you must first know what God considers “good.”
- God calls us to have true, right and pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8). Billy Graham once gave this answer on controlling bad thoughts.
- God calls us to love everyone, including our enemies. “The Bible declares that we who follow Jesus Christ should be just as much in love with each other as God was in love with us when He sent His Son to die on the cross.” —Billy Graham in a “Sermon on Love”.
- God calls us to do the right thing for the right reasons. This battle starts with the heart. Listen to the Hour of Decision Online radio program, “Heart Disease.”
7. Faithfulness. Do you have someone to turn to with the most important things in life? Someone who sticks close by through the ups and downs? A loyal friend isn’t to be taken for granted. You can be that kind of person, too.
- God is faithful. Are you faithful back? He wants us to be good stewards with what He’s given us – time, talents, money, relationships. Can He trust you to treat or use these things wisely?
- Being faithful to God also means not putting other things above Him. The Bible calls these idols – anything you worship or give “god-like” status to. An idol isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself – it could be work, social position, entertainment, looks – but can be a distraction when God doesn’t come first. Is He at the center of all you do? Read more about idols.
- Our relationships are important to God. Are you loyal to those around you? Can people trust that you’ll do what you say you’ll do? James 5:12 says, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.”
8. Gentleness. Harsh. Abrasive. Overly critical. Angry. That doesn’t exactly describe the kind of person you want to be around, does it? Here are some ways to approach your own relationships with gentleness.
- Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Build others up, don’t tear them down. Believe the best, don’t assume the worst. Distance yourself from harmful gossip.
- Anger may be justified, but how you deal with it can make or break relationships. It can also lead to bitterness, which gets you nowhere.
- Constructive criticism can be helpful, but be wary of criticizing others to the point of belittling them. Balance your feedback with compliments. Be mindful of your tone of voice and who’s around when you offer input.
- Self-control. With so many day-to-day temptations and frustrations, it can be hard to maintain self-control. Whether you’re at home, at work or on the road, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- We’re all tempted, but we don’t have to give in. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from whatever is tempting us. Here’s how to stay strong when faced with temptation. As 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “…(God) will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
- Maybe you lack self-control when it comes to food. Maybe it’s hard to keep your cool when the kids are crying. Or maybe the issue is lust. Whatever it is, try taking a break. Count to 10 and refocus. Call a friend for encouragement. Read a Psalm to calm your heart and focus on God. Take a walk. Find tips on overcoming addiction.
- Willpower alone might not be enough. Ask God for His power to maintain discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
I hope you got something out of this like I did. Even though he is no longer with us, Dr. Graham’s thoughts and teachings are still spot on and valuable to us every day as a reinforcement to God’s Holy Word’s and the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
His Peace and Blessings to all of you, as you continue to believe, have hope, and do the work of the Lord.
God bless you, your families, and our church, always!
As Always, In His Grip …Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be Unto You) …
Until the Nets Are Full,
Your Most Obedient and Humble Servant,