Chapter OneTHE GOOD FRUIT WILL KEEP YOU WHERE THE GIFTS TAKE YOU
Many people whose gifts move them into a place they desire I haven't
developed the qualities they need to remain there. Or they may stay
for a while at a certain level where their gifts took them but never
move beyond it.
Through developing the character qualities of the fruit of the
Spirit, already in those of us who are Christians, we are able to
move into the blessed, exceptional type of life we truly desire.
When we as Christians know what God has available for us and are
open to receiving from Him, His Spirit will give us the power we
need to develop the fruit and live the type of life God wants for
I am grateful that God did not allow my gifts to expand until I let
Him work with me for a few years on developing the fruit. When God
dropped the teaching gift into me, it was strong. I taught then in
just about the same way as I do now - years later. My gift moved me
into a place of ministry as I had desired, but my ministry wasn't
expanding in the way I wanted because I hadn't developed the fruit.
God gives us various gifts to use, but He gives us the fruit of the
Spirit to develop. When the Holy Spirit lives inside us, we have
everything He has. His fruit is in us. The seed has been planted. In
order to use the gifts in the most powerful way that God desires, we
must allow the seed of the fruit to grow up and mature in us by
We can cultivate all the fruit by focusing on love, the first in the
list of the nine fruit, and self-control, the last in the list. Love
and self-control are like bookends that hold the rest in place. All
of the fruit issue from love and actually are a form of love, but
they are kept in place by self-control.
If you are concentrating on developing the fruit of love, as you
walk through your day you won't become impatient with people. You
won't be anything but kind. You will be good to people, supportive
and faithful instead of being haughty or trying to appear better
If you aren't motivated by love, you will find that operating in the
fruit is very difficult. But even when you are motivated to express
God's love as a lifestyle, there will be times (many times when you
first begin developing the fruit) when you won't feel like being
patient, kind, joyful, peaceful or even nice at all! Those are the
times that you need self-control in order to continue to respond
with the fruit even though you don't feel like it.
If you need to develop this fruit of self-control, begin with simply
making little choices throughout the day to respond with the fruit
to situations you encounter, as discussed before. Pretty soon you
will have formed a habit. At that stage, the seed of self-control in
you will have grown into a little plant.
Once you have formed the habit, you won't be caught off guard as
easily as when you first started developing self-control. When you
are in that first stage of development, you can be walking along in
the grocery store thinking everything is great. You can be in a good
mood, thinking about how you don't have any problems right then and
everything is wonderful. Then all of a sudden something minor will
happen. Somebody will bump into you, step on your toe, roll a cart
over your foot or make some other human mistake. And since you don't
have mature fruit yet, you will respond in anger or impatience
instead of choosing to respond good-naturedly with patience and
perhaps even joy by laughing with the person over the incident. But
don't despair, the more you practice displaying the fruit, the more
mature they will become. At first you have to really try to control
yourself, but eventually it will be very natural to respond the way
Jesus would in a similar situation.
You may think. Where did that come from? I thought I was nice and
sweet. Sometimes we think that we already have the fruit of the
Spirit fully developed in us simply because we are Christians. But
when we are caught off guard, or our fruit is "squeezed," we find
out just how undeveloped the fruit in us is. These incidences are
tests that are actually very good for us because they help us know
the areas where we are weak and still need to grow.
SEED-SIZED FKUIT EQUALS SMALL-SIZED MINISTRY
When I began ministering in my gift, the fruit in me was definitely
still in the seed-stage! And I operated that way for many years.
For five years I taught a weekly Bible study in my living room to a
small group of thirty people. When I taught, I wore short shorts,
just as short as I could get them. And I smoked - one cigarette
after the other. I sat there on my living room floor blowing smoke
in everybody's face the whole night while I was teaching the Bible!
I had no concern for the guests' feelings at all. It did not even
occur to me that my smoking might make someone else uncomfortable or
cause them to judge me adversely. There are many habits that can be
detrimental to our Christian witness and I don't suppose that
smoking is any worse than many others, but we should choose not to
do things that are harmful to our health and the health of others.
Wearing short shorts in that type of atmosphere was not a wise
choice either but at that time in my life I simply did what I felt
like doing without even considering how it might affect others. Love
would have made different choices. It would have wisely chosen to do
things that could not offend anyone.
You might be wondering how or why God would use me to teach His Word
when my behavior was so immature, and I can certainly understand why
you would. The only answer I can give is that God not only sees
where we are right now, but He also sees where we came from and
where we are going to end up. He knew my heart toward Him was right
even though my behavior was very unwise. He gave me a space of time
to change, and I am grateful for it.
People came to the Bible study because God's anointing was present,
not because I was perfected yet. Most of them had the same problems
I did, and we were trying to learn together. After a few months went
by, I began to recognize that the Holy Spirit was dealing with me to
dress differently and to stop smoking, as well as to make many other
changes in my lifestyle habits. It was not easy to make the changes,
but my love for Jesus helped me to press through the hard times of
Some people reading this book might say, "Well, hey, then why do I
have to change if God used you like that when you had all those
If I hadn't allowed God to change me by working with Him to develop
the fruit of self-control in many areas, I would still be sitting on
my living room floor ministering to twenty-five or thirty people - or
to only one or two who were sticking with me out of loyalty. If I
hadn't allowed God to change me in preparation to fulfill His plan
for me, I wouldn't have moved into my present position of
ministering. I speak to large groups of people in different teaching
conferences on a regular basis, and I am also able to reach people
with God's love and His Word through a number of different Life In
The Word outreaches all over the world. We are blessed to hear
testimonies from people who tell us how God used this ministry to
bring healing to them or transform their lives in other ways.
Yes, God will let us do some ministry before we allow Him to begin
developing that seed of the fruit of the Spirit in us, but He won't
loose us on the world until we mature a little. We won't accurately
represent Him until we begin maturing and reflecting His character
more and more! And as we develop the fruit, we learn how to draw
more on Him to handle the growing responsibilities He gives us on
our way to leading a more exceptional life.