In an article in the New Yorkermagazine, author Malcolm Gladwell writes that vicious dogs are often not inherently vicious, but are the product of their owners:
“The dogs that bite people are, in many cases, socially isolated because their owners are socially isolated, and they are vicious because they have owners who want a vicious dog. The junkyard German shepherd—which looks as if it would rip your throat out—and the German shepherd guide dog are the same breed. But they are not the same dog, because they have owners with different intentions.”
Having now offended many dog owners, let us assume for the sake of argument that this observation is sometimes, but not universally, true. Like these dogs, believers also have a master from whom we should take our cue for how we should act.
The Apostle Peter declared: “… Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). According to Peter, believers should follow the example of Christ in how we live our lives.
Although not an exhaustive list of character traits that should be present in the life of the believer, Paul’s words to the churches of Galatia is a great place to start. Paul exhorted believers to exhibit in their lives the “fruit of the Spirit” which he defined as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).
“Love” refers to unconditional love. The unconditional love that God extends to believers—believers should extend to others.
“Joy” is God’s gift to His people that is not dependent upon people, circumstances, and things.
“Peace” refers to a tranquility of mind.
“Patience” refers to the tolerance, longsuffering, and patient endurance of injuries inflicted upon you by others.
“Kindness” denotes a concern for the needs of others.
“Goodness” has to do with moral and spiritual excellence that is demonstrated by acts of kindness.
“Faithfulness” speaks of loyalty and trustworthiness.
“Gentleness” describes someone who has the power to retaliate but keeps that power under control.
“Self-control” refers to the restraint of passions and appetites.
Evangelist and author Bruce Wilkinson conducted a personal survey concerning the level of fruit-bearing among Christians today. He discovered that nearly half of all Christians bear little or no fruit, another third bear some fruit, and only 5% bear a lot of fruit.
This is shocking! Obviously, there is a fruit-bearing crisis in the church today. The good news is that it doesn’t have to remain this way as you and I can do something about it beginning today.
Jesus is the master of every believer and we should reflect His character in our day-to-day living as we live our lives before a watching world!
Copyright © 2019 by Jeff Swart @ jeffswart.com
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