The Call to Fruitful Living
- Growing in the Fuit of the Spirit
- The Fruit of the Spirit
- Growing in Character
- Growing in Wisdom
- Growing in the Joy of Holy Living
Many people measure the fruitfulness of their lives by the quantity of their activities instead of the quality of their character. Who and what you are is more important than what you do. The Bible emphasizes being and character as you grow to be more like Christ. Becoming more like Christ does not happen by accident.
Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit
The True Vine and Branches
In John 15:1-5, the Lord Jesus describes the relationship that we must have with Him in order to bear the spiritual fruit that God wants us to bear. He uses the metaphor of the vine and branches.
1 “I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. 2 Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. 3 You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. 4 Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5 AMP
- Jesus is the True Vine
- Our Heavenly Father is the Vinedresser
- We are the branches
The Fruit of the Spirit
God wants to cultivate and produce the nine fruits of the Spirit in your life in Christ. Because Jesus is the True Vine, True Fruit is produced when we are connected to Him. To the believer, Jesus is like a grapevine giving life to its branches so its branches will bear fruit. Whereas, the Holy Spirit works in, through, and with a believer who has the life of Christ flowing into them.
The fruit of the Spirit is what happens when the life of Christ is lived out in a believer. As you read about the fruits of the Spirit, refer to 1 Corinthians 13 and observe the intertwining of love with the nine fruits of the Spirit. Love is the foundation and essence and beginning and end of all things in Christ.
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. Galatians 5:22-23 AMP
The Fruit of the Spirit in a Believer’s Mind
Love is the foundation. God is the source of love. God is love and loves the world. The example of what it means to love like God is what Jesus gave us.
John 3:16 :: 1 John 4:8
Joy is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing in those who abide in Christ. The Lord promises His joy to those who abide in Him. His joy does not depend on circumstances; it rests in God’s sovereignty.
John 15:11 :: Romans 8:28
Peace is an inner repose and quietness even in the face of adversity. The peace of God passes all understanding.
John 14:27 :: Philippians 4:7
The Fruit of the Spirit in a Believer’s Relationships With Others
Patience is forbearing in the face of provocation. Patience does not think about retaliation, even when wrongfully treated. Patience is bearing with one another.
2 Corinthians 6:6 :: Colossians 3:12
Kindness is benevolence in action. Think of the kindness God has demonstrated toward mankind. Because God is kind toward sinners—including us—we ought also to be kind towards sinners too.
Romans 2:4 :: Ephesians 2:7
Goodness is an uprightness before God and is demonstrated when we do good to others, even when they don’t deserve it. This is what God has demonstrated with each one of us.
Psalm 27:13 :: Psalm 31:19 :: Psalm 145:7 :: 2 Peter 1:3
The Fruit of the Spirit in a Believer’s Conduct
Faithfulness is manifested in a person’s trustworthiness or reliability.
Gentleness is shown in a person’s submissiveness or yielding to God’s Word and is shown in its consideration of others when discipline is needed.
1 Corinthians 4:21 :: Galatians 6:1 :: Ephesians 4:2
Colossians 3:12 :: 2 Timothy 2:25 :: 1 Peter 3:16
Self-control is self-mastery, especially when dealing with fleshly impulses. Self-control is impossible to attain without the power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 24:25 :: Galatians 5:16 :: 2 Peter 1:6
Growing in Character
The Character Qualities of a Blessed Person
God desires to develop godly character qualities in our lives as a result of our relationship with Christ. Character growth involves thoughts, speech, actions, and emotions.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus identified eight basic character qualities for living a full, blessed life. Jesus used the Sermon on the Mount to show us how a believer in right relationship with God ought to conduct their lives. Notice these 8 character qualities are all internal and they can only come when a believer places their complete trust in God.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-12 NKJV
As the Holy Spirit continues to develop His fruit in your character throughout your lifetime, how will this affect your emotional world? How will it affect your relationships?
|The Blessed Person…||Meaning||The Promise of Jesus|
|is poor in spirit (verse 3).||Being poor in spirit means consciously depending on God and not yourself; in other words, recognizing that you are poor inwardly because you have no ability in yourself to please God.||The kingdom of God.|
|mourns (verse 4).||Recognizing your needs and presenting those needs to God, because God is the One who is able to assist you with any need you have.||They shall be comforted.|
|is meek (verse 5).||Humble and gentle and knowledge and appreciation for your proper place and position.||They shall inherit the earth.|
|hungers and thirsts for righteousness (verse 6).||Having a spiritual appetite and a continual desire for personal righteousness.||They shall be filled.|
|is merciful (verse 7).||Extending mercy to others, which demonstrates that God’s mercy has been extended to you.||They shall obtain mercy.|
|is pure in heart (verse 8).||Striving to be inwardly clean from sin through faith in God’s provisions and continually acknowledging your sinful condition.||They shall see God.|
|is a peacemaker (verse 9).||Showing others how to have peace with God and how to God’s instruments of peace in the world.||They shall be called children of God.|
|is persecuted because of righteousness (verses 10-11).||Having and maintaining God’s righteousness even though it brings persecution.||Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.|
A Character Contrast
Contrast the two types of people in Jeremiah 17:5-8 below.
5 This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8 NIV
The Character of a Person Who Trusts in Man
Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. (Verse 5.)
He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. (Verse 6.)
The Character of a Person Who Trusts in God
But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. (Verse 7.)
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Verse 8.)
Revealers of Your True Character
Scripture identifies several important areas of life that reveal your true character.
5 For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. 6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. 7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. 8 So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. Romans 8:5-8 AMP
2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:2-3 NASB95
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 NASB95
Romans 12:2 :: Romans 12:16 :: Ephesians 4:17-24
29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. Ephesians 4:29 AMP
8 But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Colossians 3:8 AMP
6 Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]. Colossians 4:6 AMP
1 Corinthians 1:5 :: 2 Corinthians 1:18 :: 1 Timothy 4:12 :: James 3:2 :: 1 John 3:18
15 And saying, The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled (completed), and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (have a change of mind which issues in regret for past sins and in change of conduct for the better) and believe (trust in, rely on, and adhere to) the good news (the Gospel). Mark 1:15 AMP
13 Let us live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly as in the [open light of] day, not in reveling (carousing) and drunkenness, not in immorality and debauchery (sensuality and licentiousness), not in quarreling and jealousy. Romans 13:13 AMP
17 Only, let each one [seek to conduct himself and regulate his affairs so as to] lead the life which the Lord has allotted and imparted to him and to which God has invited and summoned him. This is my order in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17 AMP
12 Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock]. 1 Peter 2:12 AMP
Galatians 1:10 :: Galatians 2:6 :: Galatians 5:25 :: Galatians 6:4 :: Philippians 1:27
In Romans chapter 7, the apostle Paul describes the conflict in the life of believers between our regenerated mind and new nature in Christ and our unregenerated mind and sin nature and capacities.
Your Attitude Towards Others
31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4:31-32 CSB
5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Philippians 2:5 AMP
Your Heart Treasury
The condition of our hearts influences our lives.
18 But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs) such as murder, adultery, sexual vice, theft, false witnessing, slander, and irreverent speech. 20 These are what make a man unclean and defile [him]; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean or defile [him]. Matthew 15:18-20 AMP
35 The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things. Matthew 12:35 AMP
45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45 NLT
Your Choosing to Live According to the Former Life or the New Life in Christ
What will happen to your life and mind as you grow in character?
1 I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. Romans 12:1-2 AMP
22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:22-24 NASB95
The Keys to Growing in Character
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:1-11 NIV
As your character matures in these qualities, how will this both honor God and help you?
How have you experienced the power of God changing your character?
Try to identify which one of these qualities the Holy Spirit might currently be focusing on in your life. With God’s help, what step could you take to become more Christlike in displaying the quality you mentioned?
In what you think:
In what you say:
In how you act:
Growing in Wisdom
The contrast between worldly wisdom and God’s wisdom is found in James 3:15-17.
13 Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. 15 This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). 16 For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity). 18 And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God’s will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace [in themselves and in others, that peace which means concord, agreement, and harmony between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]. James 3:13-18 AMP
God’s Desire For You
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV
While God is transforming your character to be more like Christ, what are some practical ways mentioned in this passage that you can partner with Him?
The Book of Proverbs
The book of Proverbs gives numerous insights into character growth.
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young–
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance–
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:1-7 NIV
Growing in the Joy of Holy Living
God’s grace helps us experience joy and grow in character, even in the midst of difficulties and pain. Read Philippians 3:4-14. Paul experienced deep joy in the process of being transformed by grace. Paul’s new attitudes and patterns differed from his former ones. (Verses 4-14.)
In verse 13, Paul left some things behind that he had previously depended on for his holy living. What things (if any) are you depending on that you should leave behind? What things are you hoping in as you look forward? (Verse 14.)
The contrast between God’s way of doing things and our way is never more acute than in this area of human change and transformation. We focus on specific actions; God focuses on us. We work from the outside in; God works from the inside out. We try; God transforms. —Richard Foster, Devotional Classics
What Deepens Our Joy
Read John 15:11-16; 16:24; 17:13. From these verses, what will deepen our joy?
The Key to Being Filled With Joy
11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 NASB95
God’s presence is the key to being filled with joy.
The Lord’s Promise
What did Jesus promise to those who had given up much to follow Him?
28 Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29 So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:28-30 NKJV
What is your response to receiving this promise both now and later in heaven?