Everything we are as Christ-followers is the work of the Holy Spirit. That statement is one of the distinctives of the Christian faith. Christianity holds that all that we are (and all that we can become) is a gift from God.
Think of fruit. Fruit is produced by a tree not by force of willpower. It’s produced because that’s the nature of the tree itself. An apple tree produces apples. A peach tree produces peaches.
What it is is what it produces.
This idea is so different from what every other philosophy or religion teaches: Focus. Self-reliance. Hard work. Responsibility. Willpower. Those are the things that lead to strong character and success, according to the dominant theories of culture and religion.
Paul teaches us that if we want to be people of strong character, the way to do that is not to build it through focus, self-reliance, hard work, responsibility and willpower, but rather through walking with the Spirit and keeping in step with him.
When we do that, the Spirit changes who we are. He strengthens us to become what we have already been declared to be in Christ: A dearly loved child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. And what we are is what we will produce.
The secret of success? Belong to Jesus Christ. Not to self. Keep in step. Not, “Step it up!”
The signs of success will be obvious. The kinds of character qualities most of us are seeking in life will come. Keep in step with the Spirit, and you’ll keep the fruit of the Spirit growing!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25, NIV).
Lord, help me to keep in step with your Spirit by reading my Bible daily. Remind me of the importance of regular attendance at church, at my growth group, and making use of the Lord’s Supper. In these ways, you will fill me with your Spirit and help me stay in step with him. I want you to produce the fruits of the Spirit in me — all for your glory, Lord.
Our Bible reading for Sunday, September 20, is Isaiah 47:1 – 49:7, Galatians 5:7-26 and Psalm 109:1-20.
Header image based on "Apple orchard in Tasmania with fruit on trees DSC_5957" by Apple and Pear Australia, Ltd., CC By 2.0