You may think you’ve heard this before, but I doubt you have. Take it from a recovering conman, it’s the people who think they know what this is about, that I’m most likely talking about:
Here’s how to know if someone is being a poser in their spiritual maturity with the Holy Spirit.
Looking Like A “Fruitful” Man Of God
As a “man of God”, I can put a great deal of pressure on myself to look, sound, and generally just “appear” Godly. There’s a lot of pressure outside of my self as well if I claim to be “of God”.
This isn’t a wrong pressure in and of itself! You know, if our standard is Jesus (which it is for anyone who claims he’s a man of God, says Jesus himself!) then every one of us has a lot of room to grow, undoubtedly. Those are big shoes to fill. That is correct pressure!
Yet, notice I said I “appear” Godly. Often, that’s all it is that I’m doing, or you know, attempting to do. Too often, and sometimes without even realizing it, I actually try harder to appear Godly than to be Godly. Huge and vital difference!
Appearing Godly is actually fairly easy most of the time. About anyone can look the part when it benefits them to do so.
If you’ve hung around Christian culture, or read the Bible at all, you’ve probably come across the term “fruitful”. Most of us understand this concept in a general sense, but probably not as well as we should. In common Christian lingo, we use it as sorta an all-encompassing term for showing that you’re a true Christian.
You know, “What ‘fruit’ do you produce?” Good deeds? Good attitudes? Good feels? Good vibes… whaaatever!
You can easily see how this could become an act, right? Again, if it benefits you to look Godly, most of us know we could fake that, right? I mean, people do that stuff all the time without even claiming God, right? So when claiming God on top of it, you can sell most people on your spiritual maturity pretty easily.
However, being Godly is… different.
In fact, actually being Godly, producing fruit the way God describes it, is actually impossible apart from divine help from the Holy Spirit.
This is what it comes down to: Is the Holy Spirit actually enabling you to produce fruit, or is he not?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26)
So what does this mean? It means you actually can’t fake this! I’ll explain why.
The Test: You Can Only Grow ONE Kind Of Fruit In Your Life!
So here’s how to know if you, or someone you know, is actually walking with the Holy Spirit, or just posing – just acting like they’re producing fruit.
As I stare out my window right now, as I’m writing this, there’s a cool looking little coniferous tree in my front yard. It has all these little pine cone “fruits” hanging from it just waiting to wage war on my lawn mower soon.
Now, get this: I have never walked outside and said, “Wow, you’re doing really great on your kindness and peace cones this week, but I’d really like a few more patience cones. In fact, the other day when you dropped some of your gentleness cones on the lawn, my mower loved those. Let’s get more of those.”
1). I’d be talking to a tree and that’d be dumb. 2) It’s a specific kind of tree! It only produces one specific kind of fruit!
It simply either produces, or it doesn’t produce!
God makes it clear it’s the same with us, and when Paul says the “fruit of the Spirit” in the Galatians passage, he says “F. R. U. I. T.” – singular.
Because we are a certain plant as well, and we either produce a certain Holy Spirit fruit when attached to the Jesus vine, or we don’t. Period. (John15:5)
The Singular “Fruit” Of The Spirit
We understandably get this misquoted often: We say “fruits” of the Spirit a lot. We teach these things (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) like they’re all different. It’s a reasonable mistake.
In reality, they are different “things” – as in, I would define “joy” differently than I would “peace”. However, when talking about the Holy Spirit being present in our lives, they’re not different… They’re all the same fruit from the same branch!
Kinda like the many little parts of the cones on my neat but ridiculous little tree out front. It’s more helpful to think of them as “parts” of the same single fruit. Often, if I’m wanting to imagine a more tasty fruit than a pine cone (bleh), then I think of them as the flavors that combine to make the taste of a true Christian – some Holy Spirit flavor. Ha!
You See What I’m Getting At?
So why is this important? Here’s why:
I can act, in any moment, at least for a little while, like I have self control, or peace, or faithfulness, or whatever. For a time, I can act it.
However, if I don’t truly have every one of these flavors (ingredients, components, whatever!) of the Spirit in me, then I won’t actually have the others either, and I can not fake that for long!
Every one of these either rise together, or they fall together. You either grow in them all or you lack in them all.
So when I hear a Christian (which I unfortunately hear too often) say something as ridiculous as, “Well patience is just not my strongest fruit… Ha!… I need to work on and pray for that more – ya know what I mean?”
I wanna say, “Uuuuuuuhhh… No. No, I don’t know what you mean.” Or you know, something like that…
Because if any one of us has a patience problem, then we also, without a doubt, have a kindness, faithfulness, joy, peace, self-control, love, gentleness, and goodness problem.
So How To Know A Holy-Spirit Maturing Poser?
So, to sum this up… I didn’t mean to be necessarily negative with this. Yet, I knew the headline would get you to read this. Thus to fulfill my headline promise, it’s simply this:
If you (or someone you know, but try it on yourself first) is really strong in appearing like he has one of these flavors of the fruit, but then is continually strongly deficient and not growing in another of these, then he’s probably not actually walking and maturing in the Holy Spirit.
May we each grow, daily, in our relationship and maturity and sense of God’s Spirit inside of us, and thus continually grow in the outward signs of:
The grow together, or they wither together. No exceptions. No posers.
P.S. Have you seen Nolan Trapp‘s fruit of the spirit series in which he’s been taking short, super applicable looks at each of these and little ways you would see these, and grow in them, in your daily life? It’s been good! I’m sure there will be more writing on these things soon from others as well!