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The Fruit of the Spirit

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Dr. David Eckman takes an in-depth look at the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is agape. These are the characteristics the Spirit of God produces in a life. Agape is a delight in people, an enjoyment of people. Agape love is wonderfully emotional. It is more than love, but it is also to genuinely like others; it is something that pulls our entire being into a profound unity of enjoying people, because God enjoys us. We love because He first loved us. When we respond correctly, it will be agape, a love that enjoys.
Joy—another way of putting it is deep satisfaction with life. That's what joy is. When we look at life and we think "this is wonderful," that is an attitude of joy. The perspective that life is a gift is joy. Joy is a deep satisfaction with life. It is not based on perfect circumstances, because Christ gives joy in a way that is different from how the world gives joy. The world calls winning a lotto prize joy. Real joy is when we have poor circumstances, and we're still enjoying ourselves. If we have 800 reasons why we are not satisfied with life, we need to sort that out with the good Father. Trust this good Father. We need to look at ourselves through His eyes. In His presence, joy is forever more. People carry an atmosphere with hem.

God carries an atmosphere with Him. As we walk into His presence and are open with Him and trust Him, He'll share joy with us. We will live in His atmosphere.

Peace is absence of inner-turmoil (I'm phrasing it differently, because we are used to the religious sounding words.) The gospels describe Jesus as walking on the water. Peter saw Jesus on the water and wanted to join Him, but the tempestuous waves frightened him. To the tempestuous waves, Jesus said, "Peace be still." Peace means a person's emotional life is not driven and tossed. Having an absence of inner-turmoil though is not a vacuum. A positive sense of well-being is present, because the heart is relaxing in the goodness of God.

Love, joy, and peace are primary Christian emotions. They are the birthright of every believer. Not based on circumstances, they plunge deeper than the pains of life. The Christian's promise is that God can bring a peaceful strength deeper than the pains of life. "Blessed are those who are mourning, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4). Comfort penetrates deeper than the pain of mourning, because we are comforted by a Father who is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5).

Love, joy, and peace are the fruit. The roots of the tree, so to speak, are our position in Christ. The trunk of the tree is our relationship with the Father. The fruit of the tree is how we take our life and bring it into conformity with the Father. Love, joy, peace will begin to grow in our life, affect our perspective, and affect our responses.

In Galatians 5:24, Paul gives the critical, theological principle. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh as a principle. Our new spiritual realities have resulted in the flesh being crucified with its moods and its strong desires. No need exists to live within the system of the flesh. The moods are the enveloping atmosphere of guilt, fear, anxiety, shame, discontent, and the lusts are those feelings that make us feel we've got to chase something to kill the pain. Moods are passions which engulf us; lusts pursue external targets. Christ has crucified any reason to live within those domains. All that's left is the experience of strong feelings and negative emotions, but the principle of living according to the flesh has been nullified. We have the Spirit of God within; we're in Christ; we have a Father. We can handle the crucified enemy.

Contrast the world's definition of love, joy, and peace with God's definition of these terms.

Analyze the "tree" in your life. On what area do you need to concentrate or better understand: the roots (your position in Christ), the trunk (your relationship with the Father), or the fruit of the Spirit of God?

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