"I want to thank you for sharing Christ and the bible with me and for showing me what's real in this world".
Those were the words of the caller. He was a long-ago friend who had phoned me one night to say that because I had shared Christ with him more than 30 years prior.
As our conversation grew, my friend expressed both regret and gratitude. While he was thankful to know the Lord, he was sorry that after all these years, he hadn't developed much spiritual fruit in his life.
Immediately, I sensed my friend was confusing "growing fruit" with "doing works".
It can be easy to observe certain ministries, outreaches or Christian laboring as being a display of spiritual fruit, but it really isn't. Works and fruit are separate. Works are what we do; fruit is what we develop. There are works of the flesh and of the spirit, and there is fruit of the same.
Because my friend wasn't actively involved in ministry or didn't have a showcase of visible godly accomplishments, he insisted he didn't have any spiritual fruit in his life.
As the sampling of natural, consumable fruit can be, this phone call was a bitter/sweet experience. The bitter part was that this man didn't recognize the vital and necessary development that he had already experienced. The sweetness of it was that, from my perspective, the fruit of the Holy Spirit was very evident in him.
He called me after many years to simply say "thank you". He displayed kindness, tenderness of heart and soundness of mind. He was meek, gracious and humble.
Is that not an entire basket of spiritual fruit?
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23 KJV)
(This article was published in Pathway Christian Newspaper September 2012)
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