Understanding the Fruit-Gifts Relationship (2) By Babatunde Olugboji
This week we will continue the series on the relationship between the fruit of the Spirit and the gift of the Spirit as we seek a scriptural answer to the question of why God uses some men and women with dubious characters.
Gifts, as the term implies, are given, not earned. 1 Corinthians 14:1 tells us to “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” There’s nothing wrong with craving the gifts of the Spirit; in fact, it’s encouraged.
Now, let’s talk about fruits as outlined in Galatians 5: 22-23. These are: Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Joy, Kindness, Love, Patience, Peace, and Self Control. Note that the fruit of the Spirit are the fruit of the Holy Spirit found in the life of the believer. They are not our fruit, or they would be called the “fruit of the disciple.” And we bear fruit when we remain in Him. (John 15:5)
The Greek word for fruit is ‘karpos,’ meaning the produce of a tree, plant, or animal (i.e., offspring or young). In a figurative sense, karpos means that which is produced, as in conduct or actions. This figurative sense is how Paul used the word karpos in Galatians 5. The fruit of the Spirit can thus be defined as the quality that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, which may be observed in our conduct, actions, words, attitudes, and demeanor. It defines our character.
Jesus in Matthew 7: 15-20 (16 & 20) says we can figure out someone’s spirituality by their fruits not by their gifts: “You will know them by their fruits.” This statement is part of the teaching of Jesus about recognizing genuine followers of Christ and avoiding false prophets. “Them” refers to false prophets. False prophets don’t mean prophets who give false prophecy but prophets with horrible character who preach one thing and practice something else.
In Matthew 23, Jesus told the crowd and his disciples to do what the Pharisees and the scribes teach them to do, “but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” In other words, the leaders talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. Jesus in Matthew 7 warns us not to fall for the schemes of those who operate in the gifts but don’t have the fruit because it is the fruit that proves that you are a true follower of Christ. Or a counterfeit.
Have you encountered people who seem polished and may even be popular, but they have horrible character? Their lives are an act. Actors. They are not really following Jesus; their gifts just attract people who are not discerning enough to see that they don’t have the fruit to match their gifts.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV
What does “fruit” mean in this passage? A product of a tree. Jesus gave the illustration of grape vines and fig trees. When we see grape vines, we expect them to bear grapes in season. We also expect fig trees to produce figs. A produce farmer who notices one of his fruit trees not bearing any fruit will cut it down. It is useless.
Are you aware that those who see themselves as believers but who don’t bear fruit are at best imposters?
To be continued.
Have a great week.
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