“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE, patience (LONG-SUFFERING), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . .”(Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
As our children have grown up Sue and I have enjoyed digging a little deeper into what the Bible teaches in our family devotions. Although we haven’t always been consistent, currently we’re reading R. C. Sproul’s Essential Truths of the Christian Faith: 100 Key Doctrines in Plain Language together in the morning along with the Scripture passages and prayer. Divided into ten sections, we just began the second to the last one, “Spirituality and Living in This Age”. How timely!
Our faith and our testimony as Christians are being tested these days in all sorts of ways. From the pandemic to a general election (not to mention our daily physical and relational challenges that come from living in a broken world), our hearts are being exposed. We live in a world that, since Adam and Eve dumped God in their disobedience and were expelled from the Garden, is characterized by sin and misery (see Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 18-19). Thus, when our lives are characterized by holiness and obedience it is very evident that we are swimming against the current!
Praise God that the Gospel makes us new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” See also Gal. 2:20 and Rom. 6. We are changed! We are saved from our old way of sin and death and we are saved for a new life of love and holiness—all because of Jesus who lived and died and rose again for us! We do not live for ourselves any longer, now we live for God and His glory. But this needs to be lived out in our everyday lives; we must apply the truth of God’s Word—the reality of the Gospel and our salvation—to our work lives and our family lives and our social media et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!
Do you know and show the fruit of the Spirit in these areas of your daily life? When someone comes into your sphere of influence, do they experience a supernatural calm in the midst of chaos? Can they sense a peace that passes understanding that points them to Jesus? Sproul perceptively lists several reasons why we might neglect praying for more of the Spirit, let me share two of them.
- Preoccupation with externals. We want to look at our performance, we want others to applaud our outward displays, and we want to judge others based on whether or not they act as we are sure they ought to act. Now, we must be clear: God has revealed His will, He has given us His perfect, righteous moral law. The Bible clearly calls us to obey God’s commandments. But we have a self-righteous tendency to focus exclusively on the externals, which is why Jesus con-demned the Pharisees. They ignored the heart. Even though many have taken advantage of early voting, please allow me to bring this point home by saying that if the only thing that we care about is which box is checked on a ballot and we are uninterested in understanding another’s heart, then we too have stumbled in this way.
- The problem of (seemingly) righteous unbelievers. “We all know nonbelievers who exhibit more gentle-ness or patience than many Christians” (p. 245). We ought to be distressed by this, but we should not pretend that it’s not accurate. While we cannot excuse ourselves, there are two very important differ-ences that we need to note: How one is patient, for instance; and Why someone is gentle, for example. The unbeliever is only able to exhibit these and other virtues as far as humanly possible, the believer on the other hand, is filled with the Holy Spirit. Christians have God supernaturally helping us. So when we face a chaotic situation we do not necessarily do whatever comes naturally, instead, we ask for God’s help and grace so that we can act in a way that brings glory to God and blessing to others. There is also the vital difference of motivation: all people were created to glorify God, but the nonbeliever doesn’t care about that at all! As Christians our greatest delight and joy come from pleasing and praising God (cf. Ps. 73:25-26).
By the time most of you read this many people will have taken advantage of early voting, either in person or by mail-in ballots. But we can still pray for our country, for our elected officials (1 Tim. 3:1-4), and for all Christians everywhere. I hope that you might take advantage of the different opportunities to pray together, either on our conference call or in person at the church.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”Jesus in John 16:33
The general election has taken most of our attention, but we as Christians are always reminded that this world is not our forever home (see below Jn. 17:14-18; Phil. 3:20; 1 Pt. 2:11; 1 Jn. 2:15). We are to be salt and light preserving and pointing people to the Truth of Jesus Christ. We are to proclaim the hope of the Gospel in season and out of season. May God grant us the resources to do so faithfully!
November also has a very special holiday celebration for American Christians, Thanksgiving! Please make sure that you give thanks this year to God above who has poured out many blessings on us. And may your thanksgiving to God overflow and bless those around you in words and deeds.
I thank God for all of you with joy,
- Jn. 17:14-18: “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the-world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[ They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (ESV)
- Phil. 3:20: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,…” (ESV)
- 1 Pt. 2:11: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. “ (ESV)
- 1 Jn. 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (ESV)