When I became saved, I was on fire for Christ. I was very passionate about Him, and anything I could learn that helped me to get closer to Him, I ate it up! Some of the foundational things I was taught about the faith, were the importance of repentance and continual fellowship with God through praying, fasting, and meditating on God.
As I was growing spiritually, however, I started to think that I knew a lot about God. I remember going to a class at my church thinking I was even going to help the pastor and other people there with all that God had taught me. Now, it’s very possible that God could have used me in some ways to help others in the church, but where I was deceived was I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did. I didn’t have a humble spirit either.
One way I was deceived, is I didn’t know that my attitude wasn’t pleasing to the Holy Spirit at times. I didn’t know that I was sinning when I complained in my heart about someone who irritated me, or that I was distancing from God when I stayed angry at people.
I thought my spirituality was measured by how much I knew about the Bible, or my spiritual gifts. I had no idea at the time that what Jesus cared most about was the fruits of the Spirit, especially walking in love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (NIV)
It’s very important to pray, fast, and grow in our knowledge of God. Even the apostle Paul told the church at Corinth to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
Before he told them this however, he first told them to pursue love (1 Corinthians 14:1). Also, Jesus told people that when they stand praying, if they have anything against anyone they should forgive them first so they can also be forgiven by God for their sins (Mark 11:25).
I want to challenge everyone out there who is pursuing a deeper walk with Christ: how is your love walk? How do you treat people? What kind of attitude do you have in your heart towards others?
When we face Jesus to give account for our lives, those are some of the things which will matter most. Maybe you have a ministry, or maybe you have been walking with God for many years, or maybe you just gave your life to Christ. None of those factors will compensate for not bearing the fruits of the Spirit in our lives!
Before, I was preoccupied with outer works and didn’t realize that my inner life (my attitude and thoughts) often put me in sin. Now, I am not perfect! The Holy Spirit is still working on me daily, but God has helped me to come such a long way from where I used to be.
If you struggle in this area, one thing which has really helped me is praying and fasting for the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). If you would like to know more about praying and fasting, you can read more here:
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Matthew 7:22-23 NIV
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.