And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
The Bible uses many metaphors (stories or illustrations) to compare characteristics of one thing to another. Metaphors can give insight into mysterious spiritual concepts by using our understanding of earthly, commonplace things.
Manufacturing metaphors are often used to reveal our spiritual maturity.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
The true nature of our Christian faith is revealed when we are “under fire,” just as a tea bag reveals what kind of tea it is when it is placed in hot water.
Some of the things we do in the Christian life are based on faith, some are based on ego, some are based on fear, etc. Metaphors like the above show us that our works will be tested by fire. Just as if gold and grass were burned together and only the gold remains, we are taught that only our works done in a spirit of faith have value. Heat or fire is revealing in many ways in our lives. The true nature of our Christian faith is revealed when we are “under fire,” just as a tea bag reveals what kind of tea it is when it is placed in hot water.
The Bible often uses animal metaphors to show us how we ought not to behave:
As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly. Proverbs 26:11
This verse shows us that continually falling into the same mistakes without learning is as foolish and repulsive as a dog eating its own vomit.
Psalm 140:3 shows us that our words can be as toxic as the poison of a snake: They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.
Peter uses the metaphor of sheep to show us that without Christ, we are as ignorant and lost as sheep without a shepherd:
For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:25
The Bible also uses agricultural metaphors to show us that we are not just to store up Biblical knowledge, but to grow as plants,, blooming and life-giving. These show us a picture of how we should be in our Christian walk:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2
“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:8-9
Galatians 5 provides us with a metaphor for our Christian life by revealing that life lived in abundance of the Holy Spirit produces good fruit:
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. Galatians 5:22-23
You will be known not by your knowledge or stature, but by the fruit you produce in your life.
1. I declare that the Holy Spirit is pouring the love of God into my heart. Romans 5:3-5
YOU WILL KNOW GOD’S LOVE BY ITS FRUIT. Galatians 5:16-23
When you are dialed into what God is doing and saying, you connect, understand, and can join in what He is doing. When the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into your heart, it must come out and our lives overflow with spiritual fruit, just as a full glass will overflow with water. That is how you know you have a healthy relationship with God - not by your knowledge or your lectures, but by the fruit you bear.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22
Let’s make sure that the things we are praying for are the same things God is trying to accomplish in our lives.
I declare that the evidence of God’s love being poured inwardly is...
2. ...joy being expressed outwardly.
Joy is happiness originating from within, rather than from the attention of others or physical gifts. Of course, a nice gift can make you feel happy, but we cannot depend on things or on other people to bring us happiness. Rather, we depend on our knowledge of God and our gratitude for who He is and what He’s done to give us joy.
Do you know Christians who are constantly complaining, as though they were “baptized in lemon juice!” My baseball team lost. I had to get up so early today. I can’t believe it’s only 60 degrees outside. The devil will always point out reasons to complain, but we have to shift our focus. We have no reason to be downcast - God is a spirit of joy! Even in our hardest trials, He is beside us and can fill us with joy.
3. ...peace being expressed outwardly.
Peace is not the absence of activity. It is not stillness or quiet. Heaven is ruled by peace, but it is filled with thunder, intense light, and God’s throne shaking with praise. Peace brings order and clarity. Your world may be falling apart, but you can have stability in your spirit. You can be financially bankrupt but still rich in spirit, trusting God, and experiencing the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
4. ...patience being expressed outwardly.
Another term for patience is “longsuffering,” so you’re not really exhibiting patience until you are experiencing some suffering!
If you know the whole Bible, but your impatience causes strife and discontent in others, then what good is all your knowledge?
5. ...kindness being expressed outwardly.
Be kind! Think of one person in your life to whom you have a hard time being kind. Call that person today and tell him you hope he has a great day!
6. ...goodness being expressed outwardly.
7. ...faithfulness being expressed outwardly.
8. ...gentleness being expressed outwardly.
9. ...self-control being expressed outwardly.
If we bypass “dialing in” with God, we ignore what He is doing and we ask for things that we believe will give us peace and joy. There’s nothing wrong with asking God for blessings, but those things should never be in competition with God for providing our peace and joy; He alone should be the source of that stability. God is delighted to bestow blessings upon us when He knows He can trust us to hold them with open hands and with the intention of bringing about His kingdom by their use.
Let this be your prayer, that the Holy Spirit would bear fruit in your life! If you seek first His presence and His will, you will ask for things that are more consistent with what God wants you to have and you will use them in a way more consistent with how He wants you to live.
The devil will attempt to interfere with any fruit being born in your life. You will have daily challenges with patience, peace, gentleness, self-control, etc., which is why you should run to the Holy Spirit! That is the essence of walking with God throughout the day.