But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23
Picking up on yesterday’s post about prophetic ministry and knowing the truth of Holy Spirit power from the flesh, it is helpful to remember what fruit a God-centered life is to produce. As our spirits conform more and more to the likeness of God, we become irresistable to His Presence. That is the sadness of a power-seeking Christianity that does not seek holiness–our grabbing for His power without seeking to be like Him repels Him, whereas if we will press in intimacy for holiness we gain both.
Paul identified the fruit for which God is looking in Galatians 5. A ministry that will walk in the power and authority of “these signs shall follow” is one that excels in the fruit of the Spirit, walking in genuine love, being joyful in affliction, resting in the peace of God that surpasses human ablity to understand, being patient with unexpected delays, seeking opportunities to show kindness, repaying evil with goodness, fulfilling its promises, answering criticism with gentlness, and frequently denying itself for the furtherance of truth. The last example remains most pivotal in my mind.
Unfortunately, the American church at large has little or no concept of all of these on a corporate level. Denying self is rarely pleasant or enjoyable. Usually, it is not very popular either. Our leaders fall victim to the pressure of keeping up with the church down the street and coercing bodies to fill empty pews–and with good reason, for it takes said bodies to pay for the building and keep the lights on. Good men with a clear call of God on their lives find themselves mired in financial woes, forced to spend time they should be praying trying to meet budget concerns and put out potential fires among their sheep. Sadly, we often rate the success of a ministry by how many cars are in its parking lot during its service. God uses an entirely different rating system.
Jesus was nothing if not controversial, and His message was often unpopular. All who knew Him either loved Him or hated Him. He was detested by many of the religious and adored by sinners because of how real He was; He taught as one having authority. However, within a few years of His ascension, Paul was quoting Isaiah saying, “the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Rom. 2:24). How is it that Jesus could be so loved by unbelievers and His image-bearers be so hated? Perhaps it is because of a watered-down integrity, afraid to speak the truth for fear of being offensive or (on the other extreme) being offensive and “preachy” for their own sakes.
How many will come to Him “on that day,” point to perceived miracles in their ministry, and hear Him ask, “but did you learn to love? Were you faithful in the truth, even when the words I gave you were unpopular? Did you rejoice in all things–in promotions and in seasons of loss? In short, did you spend enough time cultivating My character for Me to know you?”
In the end, a platform that disciples one person into truth and relationship is always more effective than a podium before thousands that is based on comfortable, false security and honor over holiness. It’s time we thought less about making our name and more about bearing His.