Big Orders of FruitNovember 17, 2017
In my little book, "Glory in the Face," I said that by knowing Christ, we can face adversity of every kind—-with the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, and with the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds. In Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, both peace and joy are listed, along with seven other character traits, as “the fruit of the Spirit.”
So then, why are we commanded to be joyful, and to be peaceful?
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you… Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body…”
I think the reason God orders us to bear this fruit is to discourage us from simply waiting around for the miraculous appearance of "the fruit of the Spirit," which is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [and] self-control” [Galatians 5:22–23], like a hopeful home-owner with a pear tree in his backyard.
Obedience to Christ’s commands is possible because God has given us believers in Christ “new hearts” that love the Lord and his commandments, and “renewable minds" that can learn to think about things the way Christ does. Such transformations enable us to prove, at least to ourselves, but also to anyone else paying attention, that we are, in fact, Christ’s disciples.
Jesus himself said to his apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another… If you love me, you will keep my commandments… By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” [John 13:34,35;14:15;15:8]
So let us not be people who call ourselves followers, or “disciples,” of Christ, but who sit around, staring out the window, so to speak, just wondering when the pears will appear.
We have our orders. So be joyful! And be at peace!