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Since our Nation’s 238th Birthday approaches and we see activists and militants rising, I had thought to write about the coming persecution. However, in my study, the Lord showed me something I never knew.
Reading the Sermon on the Mount passage in Matthew 5, because verses 11 and 12 deal with persecution, it suddenly occurred to me, I always saw these as separate people. In my mind, the poor in spirit, the mourner, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the persecuted, were each unique and distinct. I thought we just needed to find which mold we fit into and that was that.
Because Matthew was set in a time before the crucifixion of Christ, I didn’t realize the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, etc. become this way by the power of His Holy Spirit. These are attributes of Christ; qualities we cannot sustain on our own.
Moreover, in our life-walk with Jesus, we can have one characteristic – be one type of person, or a conglomeration. This is because these qualities begin with the filling of the Holy Spirit. And, as we abide in Christ Jesus, we grow, flourish, and thrive, just like greenery in the summer.
This week, my neighbors took down large trees in their yard. They began with chopping off the branches. Loosed from the trunk, these branches, bountiful with green leaves, sort of bounced as they hit the ground. Today those same branches are brown and dried up and the truth of Jesus’ words in John 15:1-5 is evident. Branches cannot live unless they stay united to the Vine. In Him we live, move, and have our being and His Holy Spirit helps us bear fruit. But spiritually speaking, what fruit?
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Galatians 5:22-23 explains, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.”
Now, when you compare the fruit of the Spirit with the character qualities of those Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5, you realize they are very similar. Yet, none can truly be present without the Holy Spirit.
Matthew Henry, an 18th Century Bible commentator, stated of Matthew 5, “Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people, which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian.”
Principal graces are the Fruit of the Spirit and we are never to be stagnant in our fruit bearing. Each branch that bears fruit, our heavenly Father prunes to bear even more fruit.
Seems to me pruning might sting a bit. But, it also seems the rewards are well worth any pain.
The Apostle Peter was present when Jesus gave His original sermon on the mount and he was present for the parable of the sower. Peter understood increasing our fruit production comes by diligent work. In II Peter 1:5-7, Jesus inspired him to write, “…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
You can still pick one label in the Sermon on the Mount, but don’t stay there. Strive to be “all of the above”.