What would it take for you to be the happiest as a believer? Perhaps some might say – “Teaching a child about Jesus”, “helping someone in need”, “giving a huge amount of money to a worthy cause”, or “helping someone come to know Christ.” All of these things would make us happy, but the greatest fulfillment we will ever experience as a believer, is bearing the fruit of “Christ-like Character.” Is it possible, and if so – how?
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Gal 5:19-23 NLT)
The flesh is not capable of producing anything but sin. That is true for the rebellious and also the religious. When Paul first wrote these words, he was correcting Christians who were being led to believe that they needed to obey the Law of Moses in order to be saved. What is interesting is how Paul uses the words “works” and “fruit” to draw a contrasts between the “flesh” and the “Spirit”.
From the Greek word that is translated as “works”, we get the English word “energy.” It refers to what can be produced by putting forth labor. As I have thought about what Paul is saying, I have come to this conclusion – Paul was not just warning the Galatians of certain kinds of sins, he was also warning them of the futility of trusting in the flesh. “Put forth your best effort in your flesh and here is what you will produce – anger, immorality, and false religion.” Take the Pharisees for an example. Never was there a group of men who tried harder to become righteous by following a list of rules. Yet in spite of all their fleshly efforts, they did not become more like God; instead they became more cruel and cold hearted. The flesh cannot produce godliness because the flesh is corrupt. Sin has so infected the flesh that it can only produce more sin.
In contrast, consider what the Spirit of God is able to produce. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…” When we hear the word ‘fruit’, we think of something that has life in it. Only that which is living can produce life. The Spirit is also holy, and only that which is holy can produce holiness. When the Holy Spirit is free to control a believer’s life, He is able to produce living fruit that exemplifies “Christ-like Character”
The happiest and most fulfilled we will ever be is when the Holy Spirit is powerful in our lives and bearing the fruit of Christ-like character. Oh how we should pray for an abundant crop!