Read Galatians 5:22–23
A list is given of the characteristics of those who live in close relationship with the Holy Spirit.
No amount of Christian activity compensates for the failure to be an authentic Christian. Our authenticity (or lack thereof) is made evident by the fruit that our lives are bearing. If we’re to be recognized as Christ’s followers, we need to be producing the fruit of his Holy Spirit.
Going to church or praying a prayer doesn’t automatically result in the fruit of the Spirit being produced in our lives. Rather, the condition of our souls strongly influence the fruit that comes out of our lives. Quite simply, if there are areas of our souls that have been damaged in some way, we will inevitably produce bad fruit in those areas. And keep in mind that bad fruit doesn’t necessarily point to a horrific past or abuse—it can simply mean that there are areas of the soul that are still not Christlike (and we all have these).
How can identify these areas by examining our responses to the people and events in our lives. For example, when we hear that a coworker has received another promotion, do we have the fruit of kindness and rejoicing, or do we talk about why someone else could do a better job? When we see a grim report on the news, do we freak out, sell our stock portfolio to buy gold, and fill our cellars with a six-month supply of imperishable food? Or do we respond with a strong peace in our hearts, knowing that God will take care of us?
If we want to bear good fruit, working on our soul muscle is imperative, regardless of whether or not our past looks like a train wreck (like mine). The goal for all of us is developing the kind of prosperous soul from which flows the qualities listed in Galatians. This fruit cannot be manufactured or externally generated; It results only from soul transformation and an authentic relationship with Jesus.
It’s great to know that we can choose to change our spiritual core by strengthening and healing our soul muscle. We have God’s power working within us to bring about our transformation into the image of Christ that each one of us—and, more important, God—desires. No matter where we’ve come from or what negative habits we have created in our lives, we have a promise from God that we can be someone new. From that soft, responsive heart he has placed within us and his Spirit living on the inside of us, we can learn to live a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and not by our flesh.
Does your soul muscle need some healing? Ask God to help you develop authentic joy and peace. Through prayer and the taking in God’s Word, you can strengthen you spiritual core.