But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.Galatians 5:22-24 AMP
It’s not our job to judge. There is One Righteous Judge and we’re not it. However, we’re not supposed to live in denial or be foolish. We exercise discernment by being fruit inspectors.
Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees yield rotten fruit. Bad company corrupts good morals. So use wisdom about who you spend your time with.
In Christian circles we love to shoot the wounded. Insecure people, jockeying for position, will use Scripture to judge and condemn those who stumble. They reveal their own hearts by what they do and say. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, not judgment.
This is where we need wisdom and character. We don’t know the end of the story for each person we encounter. We don’t know what their stories are, unless we ask.
I’ve lost count of the testimonies I’ve heard of people who started out strong, got horribly derailed and then years later God restored them to their sanity and calling. God’s in the miracle working business. Without repentance is anyone saved?
A gentle approach is best. If we are secure in our identity in Christ, we are not threatened by anything or anyone in this world. We know who we belong to and His power. We are eternally secure in Christ. There is no reason for fear or worry. All things are in God’s hands whether we understand or agree.
My current mantra for disciplemaking is trust, listen and obey. Trust God and believe in His promises and process. That will sustain you to live a life of purpose when the going gets tough. Don’t stop believing. That’s all that’s required in this lifetime. Everything else is an exercise in applied faith and learning from our mistakes.
Listen to the Holy Spirit. That’s the part of having a relationship with God that will keep your heart alive with passion for God and His presence. A single word from God cuts through all the lies and worries and distractions. God knows best. He can direct our steps, if we allow Him to. Humility is the key to abundant living.
Obey the Word of the Lord. Obey Jesus and His teachings. Everything the Spirit says lines up with what Scripture reveals about God’s plan and personality. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience is what shows that we actually love God and truly believe that He is Lord.
My prayer is that organized religion gets delivered from the spirit of religion. That’s the only hope for revival to break out in churches that are organized and run as businesses.
Home fellowships still fall victim to legalism, but there’s no monetary incentive to keep people bound in religious tradition.
Either way, God is at work, bringing continuous improvement to the spiritual lives of His children. We may not understand what He’s doing, but it’s for our own good. Let us be thankful in all circumstances.
If we simply focus on our personal walk with the Lord, and encouraging others in theirs, everything will work out just fine. We don’t need to be trying to control people. That’s what religion does. It suffocates the move of the Spirit.
The government rests on the shoulders of Christ Jesus. He’s the Head for the whole Body of Christ. Trust Him. Listen to Him. Obey Him. That’s the way to walk it out, this thing called living by faith.
I leave it as an exercise for the gentle reader to do a self check:
- How am I doing at trusting God?
- How am I doing at listening to God?
- How am I doing at obeying God?
Hopefully you have at least one trusted friend in the faith that you can fellowship openly and honestly with about these issues. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. It’s called the buddy system. It’s the backbone of the Church.
Relational networks are what make the world go round. The enemy hates relationships and tries to destroy them. First our fellowship with God, then with each other. Let grace, mercy and love win the day. Rejoice in the Lord always. We’re saved for crying out loud. To live is Christ and to die is gain.
May God bless you with faithful, true and loving friends to fellowship with as you continue your journey to maturity in Christ. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
We proclaim Him, warning and instructing everyone in all wisdom [that is, with comprehensive insight into the word and purposes of God], so that we may present every person complete in Christ [mature, fully trained, and perfect in Him—the Anointed].Colossians 1:28 AMP