All around the world, Christian educators are back in the classroom. Over the past few weeks, educators have been busy planning what they will teach, and how to be more successful at imparting truth into the lives of their students and effecting change in the lives of their students. Two questions I often asked teachers at the start of the school year are; “When the school year concludes at the end of this school year, how much of an impact will you have had on your students? What will they remember most about your classroom and you as their teacher?” One way of maximizing your impact is to allow the Fruit of the Spirit to flow out from your life.
Over the next few blogs, I would like to share some ways that Christian educators can impact the lives of their students by intentionally modeling the Fruit of the Spirit.
When an educator accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of his life, the very nature and character of God become part of his life; he becomes a new creature on the inside (2 Corinthians 5:17). His body becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. As he submits his/her will to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to govern his life, the Holy Spirit produces fruits which are qualities of Christian character. Paul identifies this fruit as love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
Billy Graham says,
The Fruit of the Spirit as described in Scriptures is nothing more or less than the character of Christ reproduced in the life of the believer. That fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness and self-control—is produced only by the working of the Holy Spirit in a Christian's life . . . It is actually God's plan that all believers will exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit. The producing and maturing of this fruit in a person's life are an indication of the overall spiritual maturing that is going on. The more obedient one is to the Holy Spirit's presence in their life, the more emphatic will be the maturing of the Fruit of the Spirit. God expects every one of His own to be moving in the direction of maturity, appropriating the power of the Holy Spirit to produce the character of Christ.
If we want the Fruit of the Spirit to be displayed in our character, attitudes, and actions, we must join our lives with Christ just like branches are joined to a vine. Jesus said, Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:4,5).
Your task as Christian educators is to model the fruit and to encourage your students in the maturing of their own fruit-filled lives. As the Fruit of the Spirit fills the life of Johnny and Susie, their lives will be more like Christ.
Guy Duffield, referring to the Fruit of the Spirit, said,
A great many persons are endeavoring to produce the Fruit of the Spirit through the entirely natural processes of character building, such as the exercise of the will, esthetic culture, mental science, the pursuit of philosophy, education in ethics, etc.; all of which is very commendable from the human point of view. It is much better to be moral, ethical, cultured, well-informed, decent, friendly, honorable and patient than to be the opposite; however, these above-named virtues, achieved by purely human efforts, are not the Fruit of the Spirit, but an imitation of it. They are wax fruit in contrast to the real fruit; just as beautiful as the real to view from a distance, but immeasurably inferior to the taste. When Christ is fully formed in the believer by the indwelling of the Spirit, true Christlike virtues will be the natural result—a result as natural as that of the growth of apples on an apple tree.
Every believer can experience the Fruit of the Spirit. Some will have “fruit,” others “more fruit,” and still others “much fruit” (John 15:1-8). The level of fruit-bearing is a direct result of submitting to the lordship of Jesus daily and obeying His Word. Furthermore, the more one is filled with the Holy Spirit the more evident these fruits should be.
Sharon Daugherty in her book, Walking in the Fruit of the Spirit, encourages all believers to walk in the lifestyle of Jesus. "You might think that walking in the Fruit of the Spirit is difficult and unattainable. However, by renewing your mind to God's Word you can walk in His fruit and nature. Once you understand that it is not you living your life anymore but Jesus in you with you yielding to Him, then you begin to allow Jesus to flow through you. You become conscious of His presence. "
In the weeks that follow, we will be looking in more detail at each fruit and how you as a Christian educator can model this fruit in your classroom.