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Fruit of the Spirit Evangelism?

 

Phil Miglioratti • Curator, The #ReimagineFORUM

 

Our methods of training Christ-followers to be active in evangelism often overlook an essential component. Connecting the fruit of the Spirit to our life of praying for the lost, caring for their needs, and sharing the faith, hope and love of God in Christ.

 

We teach there is a real presence of the Holy Spirit in our salvation. We preach the filling of the Spirit as a moment-by-moment act of our surrender to the will of God revealed through Scripture. We instruct disciples of Jesus to prayerfully seek the leading of the Spirit in every decision. Each of these actions are important and work in harmony with each other. What may be missing, or disconnected, is the manner in which the Holy Spirit harvests these truths to display the character and qualities of God through our witness to the Gospel. The fruit of the Spirit is produced through the disciplines of discipleship so that they are appropriately expressed through an evangelistic lifestyle of praying-caring-sharing.

 

The “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), when taught as merely a set of godly character traits (which they are) (and we need to pursue them), stops short of the ultimate purpose of those traits. The Amplified Version translates the words “fruit of the Holy Spirit,” as “…the work which His presence within accomplishes.” The Holy Spirit’s presence guides us (as a coach) and guards us (comforts: “strong; fort”) throughout each day and in every decision. As we yield to that work of God’s Spirit (“be filled” Ephesians 5:18), God lives, not merely within us and for us, but through us.

 

Reimagine discipleship as the ongoing filling of the Spirit (“keep on being filled”) to reveal God’s will through God’s Word. Refocus evangelism as the work of the Holy Spirit to connect each disciple to the needs of the people (family, friends, strangers), the places (work, play), and opportunities (activities, events,) God has called them to serve … resulting in the showing and telling of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit’s internal presence is always purposing towards an external expression of the character of God, revealed to the lost and the least through our unexpected actions and uncommon reactions. Each “fruit” is a gift we bring as we walk a bridge into a conversation to pray for someone or a situation, care for them with acts of service or mercy, and share the Gospel of faith in Jesus.

 

               = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

              Reimagine Galatians 5:22–23 

              But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you

               “The Greek word for ‘fruit’ can be translated ‘harvest.’” (text and notes from The Passion

               Translation)

              is divine love in all its varied expressions:

               There is clear textual inference that the ‘fruit’ (singular in the text) of the Holy Spirit is love,

               with the other virtues displaying aspects of the greatest quality of Spirit-life, agape love.”

              joy that overflows,

                  “The translator has chosen to supply action to these virtues, for they are not meant to be

                  abstract virtues, but made visible with actions.”

              peace that subdues,

              patience that endures,

                  “The Greek word for patience is taken from a verb that means ‘ever tapping’ or ‘never

                  quitting.’”

              kindness in action,

                  “The Aramaic word can be translated ‘sweetness.’”

               a life full of virtue,

                  “Or, ‘goodness.’”

               faith that prevails,

               gentleness of heart,

               and strength of spirit.

                  Although the word self is not found in this verse, most translations render this as ‘self-

                  control.’ The word is actually ‘lordship,’ or by implication ‘spirit-strength.’”

              Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.

                  “Literally ‘there is no law set against these thing’ or ‘there is no conflict with Jewish laws.’”

               = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

 

The purpose of the fruit of the Spirit is not to make us nicer neighbors; it grows within us to make us loving neighbors who enlighten people to the problem-solving, life-transforming character of God. “This is how God loved the world” (John 3:16): look to what Jesus did, look at how Jesus-followers live and give, serve and sacrifice.

 

Gifting the fruit of the Spirit is intended to be a daily reality for every authentic Christian, not only for those who have the gift of evangelism or the calling of an evangelist. Valuing the fruit of the Spirit as a witnessing tool can be a huge encouragement to believers who deeply desire to share their faith but often hesitate or have been ineffective. Making disciples who reproduce by sharing their faith must include equipping them to simply look for ways to express the love of God through the spiritual traits they most often or easily exhibit. Some display the love of Christ best through acts of kindness and mercy, others as peacemakers. Every Christ follower needs to seek the discernment of the Spirit into how the Spirit is most effective; which “fruit” (character trait) seems most prevalent and effective in which situations?  

 

Fruit-of-the-Spirit evangelism is walking God’s love over a bridge into a situation or experience with the gift of joy or peace or patience or kindness, goodness, faith, gentle humility, or restoring control. Love motivated gifts, suited to a person or relevant to a problem, bring practical blessings that point lost people to hope that breeds faith…sharing stories can easily ensue.

 

Instead of looking first at what we should “do” to evangelize (methods), what if we looked at the focus of our prayers for others? Which fruit of the Spirit predominates our intercession? What passion is stirred within us when we are led to care for people; their problems or possibilities? When does our presence result conversations about spiritual issues or opportunities to share life stories?

Evangelism results when a disciple gives an uncommon response to an ordinary interaction, an invitation for those we live-work-play with to witness the kindness or peace or control that comes from trusting God.

 

Fruit of the Spirit evangelism has a corporate application. Every Christian can look for opportunities to live-out the fruit of the Spirit and listen-for a conversation that stirs up faith. But it is also true that every congregation can express the fruit of the Spirit corporately, through families-groups-teams as they walk the bridges of daily encounters and planned events to serve in love.

 

Fruit-of-the-Spirit evangelism is bringing the gifts of God (joy, peace, kindness, etc.) to the people and into the places of their problems and possibilities, showing and telling the good news of God in Christ. “God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (CEV)

               = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Reimagine the Fruit of the Spirit…

 

… As the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you

               Every believer has the capacity to bring the light of God’s presence in any situation or

               circumstance; happy or sad, easy or difficult.

… As divine love in all its varied expressions:

                  Live a John 3:16 life: “This is how God loved the world, he gave…”

Live and give God’s love – it will provide hope – it may produce faith.

… As joy that overflows,

               Be joyous. Celebrate others’ milestones. Congratulate awards. Throw parties!

               Sit with friends in their dark, unhappy places. Speak truth when prompted.

… As peace that subdues,

               Bring calm to chaos, clarity to anxiety, care to abuse, quiet to noise.

               Invite people into conflict resolution, relational reconciliation.

… As patience that endures,

               Never give up.

Get close to someone who has (or is running out of time or energy).

… As kindness in action,

            Every Tuesday, be kind to everyone you encounter. Over-tip. Be generous. Smile.

            Next week, add an additional day.

… As a life focused on the “good,”

            Be the good others never see.

            Help them think differently about what is truly good in this/their situation.

… As faith that prevails,

            Live obviously by faith. Talk about your walk o faith. Be faithful to your promises

            Affirm with words of faith and hope, in persona and in prayer to God.

… As gentleness of heart,

            Be a good listener. Respond rather than react. Forgive. Extend mercy (especially when it is not              deserved).

… As restoring control.

            Help someone set personal boundaries for protection from pain or problems.

            Lead a group or situation to focus on a solution that will restore order, set a good direction.

            Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.   Galatians 5:22–23 

            Caring acts, discerning words, appropriate touch, simple gifts, spending time, all have                            uncommon power to influence and impact people who are lost, have less, feel hopeless, need              healing…

               = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

 

Reimagine evangelism as the Holy Spirit empowering you to express a characteristic of God into an experience, changing the focus from fear or anger or sadness onto the love of God in Christ, because you defy the natural with the uncommon and unexpected presence of the supernatural. People see God in you as  the Gospel is enlightened through you.

All that matters now is living in the faith that is activated and brought to perfection by love.

Demonstrate love to your neighbor, even as you care for and love yourself.

Yield freely and fully to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5 The Passion Translation

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