Faith Identity

How Fruit Happens-Part 1 What a Bike Accident Taught Me About How God Works Through Us

Accidents are called such because none of us schedule them. Diligent to keep up on my doctor-ordered weekly 150 minutes of cardio exercise, I ride my bike in nicer weather. What was to be my last ride for the week became my last ride for about ten weeks! To this day I don’t know exactly what happened. All I know is my bike catapulted me forward ending in six broken bones! The Lord used that accident and recovery to teach me some things about the way he works through us.

When you place your faith in Jesus Christ, he, by the Holy Spirit, comes to live in you. Galatians 2:20 is clear: It’s no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you. Yes, you still live in your body. Your flesh is alive and it reminds you of that constantly! However, you now live by faith in the Son of God. That raises the question, If God is living His life through you, what evidences are there? What changes in you and through you are proof God is living His life?

I wrote this article (parts 1 and 2) after a serious bike accident. What is commonly known as the Fruit of the Spirit came to a refreshing new perspective through my accident. Galatians 5:22-25. ESV reads:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

Love

The reality is, without Christ in you, your love is nothing more than an attempt towards self-exaltation. You love your girlfriend for your benefit, not hers. You love your kids so it reflects good on your image as a parent. You attend church faithfully so it plays well on your social status, not because you truly love God. Christ in you loves perfectly. Loves genuinely. Loves sacrificially. Love is UB4ME. Stop loving to get. Love to give. To serve. Even when it is costly.  

I wish I could say I love the way Christ does. I do not. There is still too much of David in my love. It’s when I die to self, my passions and desires, that Christ lives his life through me and the love I have is actually him loving through me.  Believe me when I say I am far easier to be around when Christ is my life.

Crises reveal our true colors. When your sister goes on a tirade. When your son wrecks the family SUV. When your wife gets cancer. When you are suddenly catapulted off your bike! When the unexpected blindsides you. Is it Christ loving through you or is it your version of love that quickly comes to an end?  “I’ve had it!”. My love fails. Christ’s love endures. My love has conditions. His does not. Love is fruit because it is the life of Christ in you. Who are you living for today?

Joy

Joy is not happiness. I was in a lot of pain now as a result of my bike accident. My abdomen became bloated plus sharp pains in my left side made deep breaths difficult. I was not happy. One can be Spirit filled and not be happy. Yet, one can be Spirit filled and always be joyful. Happy has to do with circumstances. Joy with your relationship with Jesus.

Joy is a hope beyond the immediate. It sees eternity. Not to the things seen but to the unseen. To Christ. I need such hope, such Joy. I need Jesus. The bike accident happened blocks from home. We visited an urgent care and discovered a broken right wrist. Sending me home with a soft splint, until I could see my orthopedic surgeon I resolved myself to a change of routine for the next month or two.

About a week after the bike accident, my wife and I traveled 500 miles to see our son and his new bride.  While on that trip, my pain increased in other parts of my body. While there I started to have a bloated abdomen. We were concerned it was possibly internal bleeding. Urgent Care sent me to the local hospital emergency room. They discovered four broken ribs on my left side and a fractured left arm below my elbow. No wonder the 500 mile drive was uncomfortable!  I came close to being admitted to the hospital. Thankfully, I passed the respiratory test! So. I spent time at my son’s in-law’s house on pain medicine that keeps me from driving. Was I happy? I think you know the answer to that question. The real question is am I filled with the joy that comes from the filling of the Holy Spirit? Joy is about my relationship with God. He is my joy because of his presence living in me. James 1 reminds us to count every trial as a joy, knowing that God is doing a work in those moments for our good and His glory. He redeems the pain.

Peace

The Holy Spirit is peace. Not apathy. Not passivity. Not tolerance. Peace. Peace counters fear. Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit because God’s presence in you is peace amidst turmoil caused by sin and the uncertainty of the future. We all like quoting Romans 8:28, that all things work out for our good, thinking that means an easy life.  Yet the following verses talk of a host of calamities one who follows God can face. And the promise is that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love. That is Holy Spirit peace.

Look, if I had the pen and could write the script of my life, this whole bike accident would not be in it. But it is. Peace comes when I trust in Christ and his presence in me and stop trying to think that life is in my hands to control. The real question is do you live with the Peace of Christ in your life?

Patience

Keep in mind that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is not singular. It’s multifaceted. Patience can’t be isolated from the other fruit. The question is why would God be patient?  Sin has done quite a number on Creation and mankind. Just pass judgement now and be done with us! But that is not who God is. He is slow to pass judgement because he loves you and me enough to redeem us in Jesus Christ. We are each a prodigal. God is patiently waiting for us to return to him. To repent.

How often I lack Holy Spirit patience because I am not yielded to Christ in that moment? When my agenda usurps his. Impatient with traffic, with strangers, worse yet, with those I know and love. Or how about health issues. I cannot tell these bones to heal any faster. It means humility, asking for help, which requires great patience.

Do NOT associate patience with passivity. God is asking you to trust him while you wait, not to pull over and turn off the engine. There is much to be done in waiting. Clarity. Realignment. Repentance. Forgiveness. Love. Like other fruit you can fake patience, but it always seems it doesn’t take long for the mask of irritation to come off. Asking God for patience is a bold prayer. Get ready to be filled with his Spirit!

Kindness

There is a big push in culture and the church today to make God out as this benign, kind being who is tolerant of our choices, never angry or judgemental. My self-centeredness would quickly vote for a god like that, but my deception doesn’t change reality.

God is kind. Kindness is grace in action. It’s mercy where one deserves judgement. It’s forgiveness without strings attached. It’s your wife helping you with basic needs while you are mending physically. It’s your son driving you places when you cannot. It’s extending a gracious word when the person deserves worse.  

The Holy Spirit is kindness. There is a beautiful side to the Gospel which women tend to gravitate toward more so than men. Men have the propensity to shy away from kindness because they think it will reflect badly on their manhood. What lies we live! A man yielded to the Holy Spirit will be a kind man.  

Warriors of the Spirit

Ponder these first five fruits of the Spirit. There’s more to come, but until the next article, consider ways you can live yielded to the Spirit.

  1. Unexpected Happens. When blindsided, don’t conclude God is somehow void in that crisis. Rather, consciously yield yourself to His work in the unexpected.
  2. Conflict. There are times you didn’t start the fight with someone else, but you are in the middle of it. The spirit of evil is trying to engage your flesh in a conflict that is ONLY resolved by the Spirit living through you. Look beyond what you see and ask God to express His fruit through you to others who are pressing in on you.
  3. When Life is Chill. It’s anyone’s dream to have a carefree life! For me, the epitome of carefree is a cool summer day at the cottage in Canada in my hammock next to the lake. Those days are few and far between, but when God grants you such days, thank Him for this Spirit who is your chill-factor 24/7/365.

Warrior On!

David Riffel

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Mentoring Warriors, a 501c3 charitable organization committed to equipping men to mentor and preparing warriors (ages 18-30) for life. www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly-released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity. David has been an architect in professional practice for over 35 years.

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