Gifts of the Holy Spirit are unique. Just because one person gets a gift [such as teaching], that does not mean that all other believers get that gift. Billy Graham was known to have the gift of evangelizing, but the Holy Spirit does not give that gift to just anyone [certainly not like He gave it to Billy Graham]. Part of the discussion of the gift of tongues is the envy that some people have because they don’t have a particular spiritual gift. For example if someone can speak in tongues, why can’t I?
Again, it is because spiritual gifts are unique.
But let’s write about something that is not unique…the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When it comes to the Bible’s teaching on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, God wants all believers to have the fruit of the Spirit. Let’s be clear; all believers should have all of the fruit of the spirit. That is God’s expectation in our lives.
Graham interprets Matthew 13 as evidence of how the fruit is supposed to work. When one professes belief in God, the process of “growing fruit” is supposed to begin. Simply put, it is the development of a “Christlike” character that is supposed to manifest itself in certain outward behaviors as we conduct our lives.
Matthew 13 explains why we don’t all exhibit the fruit; of course Matthew 13 is the parable of the seed and the sower. Pastors, evangelists and teachers or any other Christian for that matter can sew the seed. The problem is that some seed never grows. The parable says that some seeds fall by the wayside and are eaten by birds. Maybe that is the message of the Holy Spirit about Christian behavior that never is heard. Some seed falls on rocky ground and without soil, it withers and dies. The message is delivered and is heard but it does not take root. For some, they hear the words but they are really not ready to receive them. They are like rocks and nothing grows on a rock. Other seed is sown and it grows for a while but eventually thorns begin to grow around the seed and the thorns choke out seed growth. Maybe those thorns are sins that begin to take over and the sin will keep the seed from growing, literally choking out the production of “fruit.” Finally is that group of seed that falls into good soil. That seed begins to root and it brings forth abundant fruit. The fourth situation is what God desires for all believers. He wants the Word of God to take root in our lives in the power of the Spirit. He wants that word to produce fruit.
We cannot produce fruit on our own. In essence we cannot produce godliness in our lives apart from the Holy Spirit. Graham hits the nail on the head when he says that all of us are filled with all kinds of “self-centered and self-seeking” desires which are in direct opposition to God’s will for our lives.
What would God have us do? First of all, He wants us to make an honest effort to root as much sin out of our lives as possible. As that happens, He wants us to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives with spiritual fruit. Colossians 3:5, 12 gives a clue to what The Bible means about “fruit”: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…. as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Graham uses a simple and effective illustration to explain this transfer of behaviors. He compares our spiritual lives as a home that is surrounded by a fence. The fence has a gate and we all know what gates are used for. They are used for letting people in or keeping people out. Inside our gate are all sorts of things that are unpleasing to God [i.e. sins]. We need to let those sins out, but we don’t have the power to open the gate. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. When does He open that gate? He does that when “we yield to Him and look to Him for His fullness” . At that point the Holy Spirit will come in and help us throw out the evil things in our lives. Not only does He control the gate, He controls the purging of our heart, the development of new attitudes, new motivations. Graham even says “He strengthens the gate with bars to keep out evil.
In summary, the works of the flesh [sins] depart and the fruit of the Spirit comes in.
What triggers this?
Did you note the word “yield?”
Unless we are ready to yield to God, none of this will happen. This is the “rub.” Many people are not willing to yield to God; they cling to their habits, they cling to their need for sin, they may even cling to their feelings of guilt about their sin, and they can’t move forward. They may have regret for their lifestyle choices, but they can’t totally agree with God over the matter. Well known Christian author and lecturer Beth Moore says we are not ready to give up a sin if we still cherish it in our heart. It is only when we develop a Godly sorrow for the sin that it has a chance to go away. God can change our hearts at that point. Again God changes us; we don’t change ourselves. It is all about yielding to Him.
After reading this introduction to the Holy Spirit and sensing the need for some of this fruit [compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience] where are you in Matthew 13?
Are you letting the seed fall by the wayside, and you are not even paying attention to it?
Are you the rock, allowing the seed to land on your non-porous surface but it is not growing?
Are you the ground that receives the seed and it grows for a while but then it is choked out by your sin?
Are you the good ground that receives the seed and the seed grows and produces fruit?
Where are you in the parable? Maybe you would like to be the good ground, but people cannot be that unless they are ready to give God control over your life. In the story referenced above, Graham says this “as we yield to Him and look to Him for His fullness—He not only comes in but He helps us thrust out the evil things in our lives.”
He controls the gate.
He purges the heart.
He brings in the new attitudes etc.
God wants to us have His fruit of the Spirit…all we have to do is develop a Godly sorrow in our hearts and say to Him “help me”. His response…
“Behold I make all things new.”
References to Billy Graham The Holy Spirit and Beth Moore Praying God’s Word.