Have a Little Faith


In listing faith among the fruits of the Spirit, Paul obviously does not mean faith in Christ, but faith in men. Such faith is not suspicious of people but believes the best. Naturally the possessor of such faith will be deceived, but he lets it pass. He is ready to believe all men, but he will not trust all men. Where this virtue is lacking men are suspicious, forward, and wayward and will believe nothing nor yield to anybody. No matter how well a person says or does anything, they will find fault with it, and if you do not humor them you can never please them. It is quite impossible to get along with them. Such faith in people therefore, is quite necessary. What kind of life would this be if one person could not believe another person?

The quote above is from Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians.   It reminds me once more of the “love” verses in 1 Corinthians.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7)

When we love others, we  believe in them.  We think the best of them.  We want the best for them.  This doesn’t comes naturally (there go the works of the flesh rearing their heads again!).  It is so much easier to criticize, to envy and be distrustful.  This kind of faith requires taking a risk.  It requires humility.  It requires sacrifice and putting the other person first.

Sometimes our faith in others will be disappointed, but often it will be rewarded.  It will make both parties better people.  Be a faithful friend, spouse, parent, neighbor — you may change somebody’s life, and you will surely change your own.


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. Galatians 5:22-23

Well, it’s past time I chimed in and put my thoughts in on this month’s theme.  I try to help out as much as I can, but with everything going on…  it’s just hard.

So my question would be this:  How many of you felt or had the fruit of the spirit during the Christmas Holiday?  How many of you felt that, perhaps, you failed?  Join the club.

Just a little farming information:  Did you know that fruit trees need to be pruned yearly?  Let me take some pruning advice from The Modern Farmer:  “Within a few years of lovingly planting fruit trees, most folks find themselves with scraggly overgrown bushes, rather than the Garden of Eden they had envisioned. The key to keeping fruit trees attractive and productive is annual pruning.”

So, if the Lord wants fruit out of us, He has to prune.  Ouch!!  We don’t just sprout out of the ground and have all the Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control down pat.  No.  We don’t grow all that stuff, we’re human.  However, the Lord will prune, and prune, and prune.  Go to the link above and see what pruning is all about.  If I think about it in a spiritual sense then I hurt all over.

Under the “Clean-Up” heading it talks about clipping off all the dead limbs and the “suckers” at the bottom of the tree and the “watersprouts” that grow straight up beside the main trunk.  Then it says “With all these clean-up cuts, it’s important to prune the branches back flush to the larger limb they’re growing from — don’t leave little stubs.”  Back to the larger branch.  No stubs for us!!

Then there is the “Thinning” and I don’t mean of the physical body!!  (Don’t we all wish???) Anyway, back to the Modern Farmer: “The goal of thinning is to allow light and air into the canopy, which boosts fruit production and reduces problems with pests and disease.”  OK!!  Light and air.  Love that, letting the Lord with his Light shine more into my life!!  But it’s got to hurt while those snippers are going to it…..

OK, step three just freaks me out.  That’s the “Haircut” as they call it on the website.  Just snipping away with clippers all over.  Here is their reason: “The idea is to prune back the outermost growth of the tree so the branches become shorter and thicker as they grow, rather than long and gangly. This keeps them from snapping under the weight of the fruit, but pomologists (fruit scientists) will tell you that it also causes the tree’s hormones to activate growth lower in the canopy, making for smaller, more fruitful trees.”  Yup, just to make us stronger.

I’ve always thought of hardships in my life as being pruned.  You have to submit, you have to walk through it to reap the benefits later.  I’ve walked through a lot in my life, an alcoholic father, my mother getting sick and turning into a vegetable, a husband with COPD and brain cancer.  I’ve walked through it.  The Lord never left me, although I was really mad about my mom.  I still have things (or issues) I have to walk through and trust the Lord to help me deal with them.  Life isn’t easy.  The Lord never said it would be.  I’ll close with one of my favorite bible verses:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Good and Bad Fruit

” You will recognize them by their fruits.  Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:16-18

In the second Chapter of Acts, we learn about the coming of the Holy Spirit to the believers.  In Galatians, Chapter 5, we find a list of the fruit that flows out of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  There is another list, the list of “bad fruit.”

“Now the works of the flesh are evident:  sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these…”Galatians 5:21

The fruit of the flesh comes naturally to us;  when sin entered the world, it became our default position.  The fruit of the spirit comes from being rooted in God, and is part of being born again and transformed as Christians.  As we become more like Christ (sanctification) the good fruit will be evident in our lives.

Which kind of fruit is growing in your life?  Are you walking the walk, or just talking the talk?  Remember, the world will know what Christianity means by the fruit you display in your daily life.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit…”  Galatians 5:29


You Can’t Go Wrong With This Fruit

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control;  against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

I love how the apostle Paul shows us a bit of humor in these verses.  There are laws against many things.  Some are the laws of our government, meant to keep us safe: laws against theft, murder, assault, drunk driving, etc.. Other laws are moral:  we may not go to jail or be fined when we transgress them, but we know they are wrong and can harm us and others:  failing to honor God, false witness, adultery, coveting, and others mentioned in the Ten Commandments.

However, there is no law against practicing the qualities mentioned as fruit of the spirit.  You can never go wrong by being loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and temperate.  You will not be fined;  you will not be chastised, nobody will be angry with you, you will not endanger anyone.  In fact, if the fruit of the spirit is displayed in your life and actions, you will be loved and admired.  People will enjoy your company and want to be your friend.  They may, in fact, begin to emulate you.  You will grow spiritually, and you will influence those around you to grow as well.

Think about the opposite “fruits”:  hatred, sorrow, discord, anger, meanness, selfishness, betrayal, rudeness and gluttony.  Does behaving like this get us anywhere?

So my question is, why aren’t we willing and eager to be cultivate the right “fruit”?  Are we afraid we’ll be taken advantage of?  That we’ll be seen as wimps? Or are we just not willing to make the effort it takes?

Paul is telling us that our actions have consequences.  When our actions reflect the fruit of the spirit, the consequences are only good ones.  So… what results do you want?  Comment and tell us how the fruit of the spirit has been a positive influence in your life.


New Month/New Theme

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:23

One of our authors was interested in having some sort of “free for all” month when we could write on any topic.  After discussion we decided to select “fruit of the spirit” as our theme for December.  Although we are limited to the nine qualities above, this still allows us a wide range of verses and ideas for blogging.

The fruit of the spirit also seems especially appropriate for the Christmas season.  This is a time when we should experience this fruit as we eagerly await Christ’s birth.  But do we?  Sometimes this season of joy and peace becomes filled with stress and discord.  Our patience is tried as we attempt to do it all:  shopping, baking, entertaining. Instead of being kind, gentle and loving, we become tired, irritable and whiney.  Self control is lost as we participate in the gluttony of eating, drinking and gift-giving.

Surely this is not what Christmas is about.  So join into our blog discussions and let us know how this Holy Season is affecting you.  Is the fruit of the spirit evident in your life?  How can you cultivate this fruit?  Let us know what you think.

God loves you and so do I!




Living Large

The sermon last Sunday was titled “Widen Your Hearts” and based on the following verses from 2 Corinthians:

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange –I speak as to my children –open wide your hearts also.”  2 Cor. 6:11-13

In this section Paul is telling the Christians of the church in Corinth that he loves and accepts them even though they seem to reject him.  There are other Bible verses that speak of “enlarging” our heart or understanding.  As the sermon progressed, I began to see that this widening or enlarging is the natural result of our freedom in Christ.  When we live under the law, we judge others (and ourselves) and find them lacking. When we live under grace, as God’s beloved children, we are set free to love others in the same way and leave judgement to God. We can make room for people who are different from us, who disagree with us, even dislike us.  Isn’t it a freeing experience to let go of prejudice, malice and hate?  Those things bind and confine us.  Love frees.

Here’s what Paul says about it to the Galatians:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren;  only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.”  Galatians 5:13

I have one more thing to share that speaks to me about this enlarging.  It’s a poem called Love Them Anyway.

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self centered. Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.  Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.  Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.  Build anyway.

People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.  Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

So live large.  Widen your hearts.  Be free.  God loves you and so do I!





How Should a Free Person Act?

A while back, Michele did a post on how should a reborn person act.  I thought it might be appropriate to turn that same question to the current theme, freedom.  Our friend, Paul, has some thoughts about this. In Romans Chapter 8 verse 2 he says:

“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Of course to some, being set free from law sounds like being able to do whatever you want, so Paul has to disabuse of that:

“What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace?  By no means!  Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience that leads to righteousness …For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.”  Romans 6:15-16, 19

Maybe he makes it even clearer in Galatians:

“For you were called to freedom, brethren;  only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.”  Galatians 5:13

So, how should a Christian who has been freed from sin act?  He shouldn’t go back to being entangled in his sins. If he does that He is still enslaved to sin.  Instead, he must yield himself to the One who freed him with humility and gratitude.  He should love others in a sacrificial way.  Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean we’re free to keep being what we are –it means changing into what we were really meant to be;  becoming our true and authentic selves.

How has being free in Christ changed you?  (that’s a post for another day).  I want to hear your stories.