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.
The fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, goodness (a life full of virtue), faith that prevails, gentleness of heart and self control (strength of spirit).
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 in conversations about spiritual issues or opportunities to share life stories?
Another great article from Phil Miglioratti • The #ReimagineFORUM
How To Equip UnWitnessing Christians to Share Their Faith