At this point in our discussion of Pastor Billy Graham’s book The Holy Spirit, we have considered the following fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is God’s intention for us to produce this fruit in our lives.
This is what God intends, but do we have to do something? How does this fruit manifest itself in our lives?
These are essential questions and after studying the Holy Spirit so much over the past several months, I can’t leave the book without providing Graham’s answers.
First of all, one has to give their life to Christ. If that is a true submission to God, then what happens next?
What happens next is your “walk.” Christians refer to a life with Christ as a walk for a reason. It is something that begins and continues throughout life, if a person is interested in becoming “Christ-like.” Sometimes the walk is not a straight line from point A to point God. Sometimes the walk stops, it takes a detour or sometimes it seems to reverse directions and go away from God.
Wow, talk about intimidating. Trying to become Christ-like is hard, overwhelming and even frustrating. Why? Because we are trying to become Christ-like in our pitifully weak bodies, tossed and turned by temptations, sidetracked by our laziness and lack of self-discipline and hammered by lack of support from it seems like almost everyone in the world.
We can’t do this alone.
We need help.
From the “Helper”.
The Helper is a word which represents the Holy Spirit. Where is this Helper? It is in all of us who have given our lives to Christ.
When we give our heart to Jesus, God expects us to change. Pastor Billy Graham calls this process “space for fruit-growing”. He also describes the process as “displacement.” To explain, he uses the metaphor of a boat. “A boat does not sink when it is in the water, but it does sink when the water comes into the boat. We do not fail to enjoy the fruit of the Spirit because we live in a sea of corruption; we fail to do so because the sea of corruption is in us” . Our goal should be to remove as much of that sea of corruption from our boat as we can. That is a pretty good explanation. We do this with aid from the Helper. When the process begins, over time we may begin to see characteristics in our lives that are different from our past. Maybe you have lived a sad life and you don’t have much motivation. Over time you may eventually begin to see joy replace that sadness. Maybe you have had problems with excessive behaviors; some of those are addictive and harmful. Over time people may see you as more under control. Maybe your everyday display of impatience is eventually replaced with a new patient attitude toward life.
Let’s add another “kink” to this process. The kind of person that God wants us to be will never be produced with our own effort. It is that indwelling of the Holy Spirit that helps us tremendously with our effort. A man told me recently that he has changed so much in his life due to his own willpower. I don’t like to think of these types of changes being brought about by willpower even though willpower may help; I like to think they are brought about by Godpower, Godpower delivered to us via the Holy Spirit.
Another problem is the time it takes to make real changes. In our culture we are bombarded by commercials saying try a diet food and you will drop 15 pounds in one month. Rub a solution on your hair and it will begin to grow thicker in two weeks. We like instant results. Getting the sea of corruption out of our boat takes time. This kind of change works on God’s time, not ours. If you want instant fruit, you will be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong. God is all powerful. He could make changes in us instantaneously if He chose to, but He would rather display His power over a longer period of time. God wants to teach us to depend on Him daily. He requires our time, He requires our trust and He requires our cooperation. He wants us to really learn how to live our best life here on earth. He has already provided a prototype in His Son Jesus and He wants us to try to be as Christ-like as we can be. In this process, God desires for us to get to know Him as much as we desire to be changed. All of us know what would happen if change happened instantaneously; we would soon forget God. Look at the Old Testament and the all-powerful acts performed by God and look at how quickly the Israelites forgot God’s acts and fell back into their old ways. It happened over and over again.
Graham concludes his book with an extensive discussion of the fruit of the Spirit for a reason. That fruit begins to appear in the Christian’s life when God slowly takes over via the Holy Spirit.
It all begins with surrender, as our old selves are crucified with Christ and our new selves emerge to display the fruit characteristic of the life of Jesus Christ.
What causes this all to come about?
What Pastor Billy Graham writes about for two-hundred and ninety-five pages…
The Holy Spirit.