By Jim Willis
Galatians 5:22 & 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
HOW CAN YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT ABIDING IN YOU? Many Christians I know struggle with this problem and I must admit that there are times I have wondered the same thing. In Acts 2:38, the Holy Spirit was promised to those who would be baptized on the day of Pentecost, and I have been a Christian for over 60 years and yet I wondered, "Do I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me?"
Brother Scott Johnson, who usually writes this article each week, was asked this question by a fellow church member. Scott asked him if he had love, kindness, joy, peace, etc., and to each of these he said that he did. Scott told him, that he indeed had the Holy Spirit in his life, because those things along with the other fruits of the Spirit that are mentioned in other places in scripture are proof that the Holy Spirit was dwelling in him. I had never thought about it in that way, although I had read the above verses many times and other places that it talks about fruit of the Holy Spirit being in us. Every time we show love, joy peace, etc., in our lives, we are demonstrating that the Holy Spirit is in us!
Much hate exists in the world. Husbands hate their wives, and wives hate their husbands. Parents hate their children, and children hate their parents. Brothers and sisters hate each other. People living in the same community have hostility in their hearts toward people who should be near and dear to them. Hate seems to have filled the world, for war and cruelty break out on all sides. Do you have a problem with hate? Do you find it difficult to practice a spirit of goodwill toward others? Those of us who are honest will admit that we often find it easier to feel hostile toward others than to practice benevolence. Somehow we must deal with the problem of hate and replace hostility with love, or our world will cave in on us. Former Senator Alan Simpson spoke these words at the funeral of President George H. W. Bush, "Hatred corrodes the container that carries it." [Our Daily Bread, Jan.20, 2020] I think that is so true. Hate not only is capable to destroying others but the person who hates.
Christianity is built on love. At the heart of Christianity is the affirmation that God loves people. God requires his children to love him supremely and to love their neighbors as themselves. Jesus condensed in capsule form the teachings of Moses and the prophets in the two great commandments (Matt. 22:35 – 40). From this distillation of the total teachings of the Old Testament, we learn three great truths: (1).Our first obligation is to love God supremely and steadfastly. (2).Our second obligation is to love self appropriately that we might have a proper measure by which to love our neighbors. (3).Our third obligation is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
The command to practice love in a world of hate comes to us clear as crystal. We should love God, ourselves, and others. We must love others in spite of the fact that they are unlovely. We must love those people whom we do not even like. How can this be possible? It is a difficult task but the Scriptures declare that God not only requires that we love, but that he also provides us with both the ability and the disposition to love. "God is love" (1 John 4:8). God has manifested his love toward unloving people in the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ (vv. 9 – 10). Because God loves us, the apostle declares that we are both obligated and enabled to love one another (v. 10).
Notice that the first fruit listed by Paul in Galatians 5 is LOVE once we get love and become truly loving people all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit will fall in place.