What does it mean to be ‘Christ-like?’ We talk about it a lot in church, but what does it look like – practically? The apostle Paul described the ‘Christ-like’ life using nine characteristics referred to in Scripture as the fruit of the spirit. These ‘fruit’ contrast a self-willed and sinful life without God with a life that is based on living in the truth of Jesus Christ. It’s the difference between a ‘Me-focused’ life and a ‘Christ-focused’ life. So what fruit are we’re talking about?
- Love: The biblical definition of love has nothing to do with a feeling. It is based on a decision of the will that we are going to love – whether we agree with or even like a person. We are going to love our neighbor no matter how we feel. We are called to love.
- Joy: Joy is not a temporary happiness because life is going my way at the moment. It’s a joy found even in struggles and grief. It doesn’t mean that we necessarily enjoy the struggle, but that we have the joy of knowing we’re fulfilling the will of God for our life.
- Peace: Trusting Christ brings peace. We are finally reconciled with God – and that peace with God creates a growing inner peace which leads to a desire for peace with others.
- Kindness: The Christ follower is called to show kindness to those who oppress them, who marginalize them, who disagree with them. Could there be any character trait more appreciated in others than kindness?
- Goodness & Patience: Patience is enduring those who mistreat us, and goodness comes from the appreciation of God’s grace in our lives. These two go hand-in-hand because through the truth of Jesus Christ we begin to experience a genuine goodness that wants to be patient with those who mistreat and oppress us.
So which ‘fruit’ do you need more of? It’s not about trying. It’s about asking God to transform you more and more into the image of Christ and these ‘fruit’ will follow.