What are The Fruits of the Spirit? Well, Galatians 5:22-23 says the fruits of The Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, but do any of these fruits account for the state of laziness or complacency? No? Then why do some of us allow ourselves to fall into this trap? I do not ask this question out of any kind of condemnation, I am merely asking a rhetorical question to which I believe I have an answer for. Like 2 Corinthians 1:24 says, I am not trying to dictate to you what you must believe, I am rather trying to work with you for your own happiness, but in order for me to do this you need to hear what I am going to say, and to accept it or reject it.
The choice is up to you…
Now sometimes as Christians, we can arrive at a point of complacency, a place where we limit God’s Spirit to our own standards. One of the Fruits of The Spirit mentioned above is ‘peace’, and this peace is capable of producing a level of tranquillity unlike anything we have ever experienced before. It allows us to bask in God’s abundant love, and in addition, humbly hear His Word. The only problem that arises from this fruit, as well as the others, are the standards we impose upon them. For instance, when we choose to build our lives around a single aspect of the Spirit, we knowingly or unknowingly idolise the fruit as a single entity, thus cutting ourselves off from the other aspects of the Spirit, and in turn God.
Worship can sometimes be an example of this. I can recall a time when I was at a one-week Christian leadership conference, and throughout the course of the week the worship band was gradually building up to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the last night. Though this was exciting, it led me to think as to why we didn’t have an outpouring ever day. I could understand that the band maybe wanted to respect the sensitivity of the audience, but on the other hand, this was a conference for Christian leaders who depended on the Holy Spirit for guidance in their respective roles.
As I pondered to myself why the band might have led in such a way. The only answers that came to me were a) that the band had grown more confident in their own ability as the week went on b) that the band had been appealing to the audience and c) that is was a combination of both. If this was the case and the band had grown more confident as the week went on this would be truly concerning for a leadership conference. After all, does Psalm 56:3 not say that whenever we are afraid, we must put our trust in God? For He “…is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Now by putting our faith, hope and trust in God that does not mean that we cannot trust our Christian brothers or sisters. It simply means that God wants us to set Him above all things. Firstly, because He made us, secondly, he owns us, but most of all He loves and cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He does not want our actions or the actions of others to directly govern our lives, or, faith in Him.
As a result, we are not to put our faith, or in this instance, confidence, in people (Psalm 146:3), but only in God. It makes no sense to do so. God is infinitely greater than any other human being that has ever existed on the face of the earth (obviously this excluded Jesus because He was God), and so why would we look to ourselves independent of the Holy Spirit when looking for spiritual leadership and guidance?
Galatians 5:16-26 can definitely shed some light on this issue within the Church. From this passage we learn that God’s Spirit must control our lives so as not to leave us with the desires of the flesh. In doing so the Spirit conquers the flesh. It does not, however, accept co-rule over the body. God’s Spirit cannot work with the flesh, for the desires and acts of the flesh warrant death, but God’s Spirit warrants true life and not an imitation of it. It also satisfies us in a way that the flesh will never be able to do, whilst also leading us in the direction God would have us walk.
In reference to the example I mentioned earlier, this is what seemed to be the case with the worship band. They had lost confidence in the Spirit and instead relied on their own efforts to worship God. I suppose it could have been out of fear, resulting in a lack of confidence in God to overwhelm anyone with the Holy Spirit, and if this were true it would contradict 2 Timothy 1:7 which states that God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love, and sound mind. Now, I believe that worship is a pure expression and/or confession of praise and adoration that provokes emotions such as these:
“ 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.” – Psalm 57:7-11 New King James Version
Psalm 57 is a psalm written by David after he had fled from Saul in a cave, the psalm begins with what I would imagine to be a very anxious David making a plea to God for help, but the remaining part of the psalm ends contrary to public opinion with David praising God, but pay attention to the words that are highlighted above.
How does David worship?
- He repeats the statement that his heart is steadfast.
- He says he will sing and give praise to God.
- He asks God to awake his glory.
- He asks God to awake his lute and harp.
- And he tells God he will awaken the dawn.
These are five very strong and powerful statements made by David, but the order in which they are stated plays a significant role. By first stating that his heart is steadfast in God, twice, he puts his trust in Him alone first. He then goes on to say that he will sing and give praise to Him. Hebrews 11:1 says “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
David certainly lived up to this scripture, his faith gave him confidence, and with that hope. Without these two things he would not be able to sing and praise God without constraint. His relationship with God also allowed him to be relaxed, and peaceful in highly stressful situations. Toward the end of verse 8, David said he would awaken the dawn. To ignore this statement is to ignore the workings of God through David, for God’s presence in David’s life was stronger than most Christians today. God’s Spirit was the driving force for David’s life and he depended on it to be able to worship God. Worship by definition is an open expression and response to God’s unrelenting faithfulness in humanity, but how often do we forget this? Sometimes I think we take Christ’s sacrifice too lightly in our lives.
Too often we think worship is about us, we limit God’s immeasurable power and start to form patterns and structures of our own, forgetting what worship is, how it should be done, why it should be done, and ultimately who is in charge, but like I said before, worship is an open expression and response to God’s unrelenting faithfulness. It is something we cannot help but do because all the glory belongs to Him. In another Psalm, David says to God “14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14) Does this sound like the words of a man who is claiming glory for himself? Of course not.
However, let us go back to the worship band that I mentioned earlier on. Now when the band had been gradually building up to an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, I made two assumptions a) that the band might have been growing more confident as the week went on and b) that the band might have been trying to appeal to the majority of the audience. Now as was mentioned before, in 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul writes an encouraging letter to Timothy telling him that God did not give us a Spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love, and sound mind. Paul’s reason for writing this letter was likely to be because of a lack of faith and/or fear on Timothy’s part in the Spirit God had given him. This fear would have been similar if not the same to that of the worship band, but if we are to be truly free, as Christ intended (Galatians 5:1), there is no room for any kind of doubt or hesitation.It is true that we will never fully understand how God works on earth, but that does not stop us appreciating what He has done and continues to do. Jesus said that it was impossible for men to save themselves, and that only through God were all things made possible (Matthew 19:26). The same can be said of worship.
- Let God’s Spirit control EVERY aspect of your life
- Trust Him alone above all others
- Cast all your fears on Him in prayer
- Praise Him with every fibre of your being