Updated: Feb 16, 2022
I was reading God’s word recently when my eyes stopped on a very familiar verse. Revelation 1:6 says, “He (Jesus) hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father…” I realized what I was seeing in print is what I had already known in my heart and had ministered to many others over the years. You see, verse 6 is written in past tense. If you look at verses 4 and 5a you will see John speaking in the present. He begins to reveal what God had shown him and he even states to whom he is speaking. Then, in 5b he switches to the past. He says, “He hath made us…” This would indicate that since “he has”, “we are.” Not “we will be.” We are.
I quietly sat and pondered this for a time before continuing on in my reading. I turned to James, chapter 3. I began reading. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (verses 10-12) Reading this prompted me to go farther back and read the preceding verses. Verses 8 and 9 say, “The tongue can no man tame: it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”
It was then that the sad and terrible truth hit me.
We are made after the similitude of God. Genesis 1:26-27 says it plainly enough. We are made in God’s very image. I began to carefully and seriously consider God’s characteristics, and of course, you can’t consider God’s characteristics without thinking about the nine fruits of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance. I thought of King David’s words, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The Apostle Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 13, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”
When I did, in light of the above scriptures, particularly the Fruit of the Spirit, I realized that in many areas I have grown, and, in many areas I fall short. When I interact with family, friends, strangers, my boss, coworkers, my spouse…am I showing forth God’s characteristics and fruit? Am I interacting with everyone in Love? With Joy? In Peace? Or am I angry and argumentative? Am I Longsuffering and forgiving 70 x 7? Or am I holding resentment, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness in my heart? The bible says if we don’t forgive others, our Father in Heaven will not forgive us. That is a very sobering thought.
Am I gentle? Do I treat my husband gently? I use him as an example, because he is the closest person to me, the one I love the most, and we are most apt to take out our frustrations on those closest to us.
What about goodness? Am I showing forth good, healthy fruit? Or am I a victim of dysfunctional behavior? Sometimes we don’t even know the difference between what is healthy and what is not. Perhaps we learned dysfunctional behavior in our childhood and we have no idea that it’s “not the right way.”
What about my faith? Do I have faith in Christ that he will finish the work in me that he started, even though I look helpless to myself? Do I have faith that he can transform me by the renewing of my mind? Can he, and will he, work out of me those nasty, habitual, behaviors, and work into me the fruit of his Spirit?
And meekness. What is that? Do I have it? Do I want it? Isn’t it weakness? No. A meek person is strong and confident. Consider Jesus’ response when the Pharisees brought to Jesus the woman caught in adultry. They asked him “what should be done to her?” Jesus did not answer hastily. He thought, long and hard, before he spoke. He wrote something in the sand. Then he rose up and said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” That doesn’t sound weak to me! Pretty bold I’d say. As far as we know there was just Jesus and the woman and a large mob of Pharisees. They could have physically overtaken Jesus quite easily. But he spoke with such meekness, such confidence and strength, they obviously dared not.
Temperance. Temperance is self-control. Do I exhibit self control? In some areas, perhaps. But in all areas? I remember several years ago I was driving to work. I was deeply absorbed in prayer and genuinely feeling the Holy Spirit in my midst. Suddenly, a car pulled out in front of me and cut me off in traffic, causing me to slam on my brakes. I instantly went from praising and blessing God to cursing and swearing at that driver without even thinking!
I’m happy to say that I rarely behave that way anymore, not for my glory, but for the glory of God, and because of his grace that worketh in me. As I have drawn closer, yielded to Him, and asked him to transform me, he has. I am able to see much change in some areas. In other areas I am still crying out to him. I know that in me dwells no good thing. My flesh is nasty, vile, rotten, and evil to the core. It is only when I take up my own cross and crucify my flesh; when I no longer liveth, but Christ liveth in me, that I am changed. It is then and only then that I will exhibit his behavior and show forth those good fruits of the Spirit.
The very reason Jesus came to earth in the form of man was to save. Save us from the snare of the evil one, from the darkness of sin, to save us from our very selves, and to lead us in the Way Everlasting.