Which came first: the fruit or the Spirit?
I used to have a lot of artificial fruit. What does artificial fruit look like? Well, let’s just say I ‘faked’ Christianity, I acted the way I thought a Christian would act. Let me give you an illustration…
When I was 16 years old I received a scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association. To me, it wasn’t just a scholarship; it was the beginning of a relationship. These people who didn’t even know me invested in my future education and took me to Washington D.C. for a few days, introduced me to a lot of entrepreneurs, and told me how much they believed in me. The sad part is no matter how much they believed in me or encouraged me, I did not think I deserved this scholarship and it was hard for me to accept it. In fact I didn’t even use it for 7 years! Why? Because for those 7 years I tried my hardest to ‘earn’ that scholarship, believing I did not deserve it. This is exactly what I did with my salvation.
I was told by a number of God’s messengers:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
OK. God loves me. He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice to pay for my sins and now I can have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A gift! In 1996, I ‘accepted’ this free gift but for 13 years I did not act like I’ve accepted it as ‘free.’ Instead, I did everything in my own strength and I tried to earn my salvation, revealing my lack of faith.
I tried to be a good Christian by being nice to people, changing what I say, I tried to stop drinking, I began to serve, and listen to Christian music…always talking the talk but not walking the walk—not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then in 2008 I began to read the Bible and on February 12, 2009 I surrendered. I stopped doing and started being.
Here are a just few things I’ve learned along the way:
- It’s not about ritualistic religion–it’s about a loving relationship
- It’s not about sacrifice–it’s about obedience
- It’s not about the letter of the law–it’s about grace
- It’s not about getting to heaven—it’s about eternal life which is knowing God and Jesus Christ
- It’s not about just reading the Bible—it’s about interacting with God
- It’s not about a check in the box for ‘quiet time’—it’s about soaking in His presence
- It’s not about memorizing the Word—it’s about meditating on His Word
- It’s not about a crisis free life—it’s about sharing in the sufferings of Christ
- It’s not about praying so you get what you want—it’s about praying to align yourself with God’s purposes and plans
- It’s not about trying to right a wrong—it’s about loving no matter what
- It’s not about living for myself—it’s about dying to self
- It’s not about serving because of guilt—it’s about serving in love
- It’s not about doing big things FOR God—it’s about abiding, waiting, listening for where God wants you to serve
- It’s not about doing things in your own strength, it’s about His strength
- It’s not about what I do—it’s about what He does through me
- It’s not about shoving the gospel down someone’s throat—it’s about being the gospel
- It’s not about getting upset because someone does not believe—it’s about understanding why they don’t believe
- It’s not about anything I did—it’s about what He did for me
- It’s not about me.
“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:17-20)
I produced bad artificial fruit for so long to try to earn my salvation, to deserve it. It is true, I don’t deserve it, none of us do. It is by grace through faith I have been saved, not of myself…not what I’ve done or haven’t done, it is a gift of God. I am no longer blinded and now I see!
Do you see? Do you see the Spirit must come before the fruit?
Are you tired of powerless religion? By ‘power’ I mean walking in your strength and not in the power of the Holy Spirit? I pray you draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Thanks for reading but please don’t take my commentary for it…read the Bible and interact with God for yourself you will taste and see that He is good!