If someone asked you to describe what a "good Christian" looks like what would be the first thing that comes to your mind? Take some time to ponder on that question and write down the first words/thoughts that comes to your head.
The first thing I think about is the greatest commandment of all. Matthew 22:36-40 says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." God gives us instructions on what pleases him the most. That is, to love God and Love people, simple right? But HOW are we able to love this way?
I mean sure everyone loves God to some extent, BUT PEOPLE?
I am sure someone just offend you last week. What about that slow driver that made you miss the light? Those mean kids or even adults who bulled you. Have you forgiven them? That ex that has moved on and forgot all about you. Is it really that easy to pray for those who persecute you?
Let's keep it real, that sounds good and all to" love God and love people," but someone did something to you. It is a daily battle not to curse your annoying coworkers out, a battle to say yes sir or ma'am to that racist boss, a battle to not ignore the calls of that parent that was not there for you. I am sure it is a battle not to gossip about your exes new relationship because they have moved on and you are hurting, a battle not to ignore your coworker who has been spreading lies about you at the office and the list goes on. These are not just emotions and reactions of people of this world so do not think these do not apply to you, followers of Christ.
How many times as a follower of Christ have you felt a way because you have been fasting and praying but someone else got the promotion? You have been abstinent for years but your friend who has been abstinent for only a few months is now engaged? Doesn't that make you a little salty? See, people of the body Christ also face emotions of the flesh.
Even those of the body who have been walking with Christ for years are sometimes angry, frustrated, and just sick and tired. Just the other week I did not win this scholarship. I was sure my essay was the best. I prayed about it and went to God, but it was not meant for me. When I first found out I rolled my eyes and closed the phone. In that moment I was not being loving. I had to repent.
God knew we would face these emotional battles. In all his wisdom God knew of these things. In all his wisdom, God Created a bridge so that we would not just walk by our flesh, but by His spirit. You know how people validate their ungodly actions and say "I am just human?" Well be that as it may, God gave us his Spirit so that we will not be alone during our time here on earth.
So the questions is then HOW are we to live by the greatest commandment? What are the marks of a "good Christian? "In order to operate in a loving manner and to express love, followers of Christ must operate by the fruits of the spirit. The "spirit" this verse is referring is the Holy Spirit.
Followers of Christ must allow the Holy Spirit to go before them. Followers of Christ must allow their hearts and souls to be transformed by God's indwelling spirit so that we may operate by it. This is a daily task that followers of Christ must be active in so that we can strengthen our spirit. We must take up our cross and follow Christ daily. We do not just do this once, or on Sunday's, but surrendering to Christ is a daily task. It is a part of the sanctification process.
The fruits of the Spirit is shown in our daily actions of how we love God and love people. Ultimately, we show how much we love God by how we love others. A simple act of kindness goes a long way. The fruits of the spirit show that we can rely on the prince of peace. Our daily actions of frutifullnesss are show when we are being kind to others not just those who we like and agree with. This is love. The spirit of goodness shows when we are are being obedient to God. We do this by praying for God's will and not our own. The spirit of gentleness shows in our speech when we are careful not to offended. We can do this by being mindful that we speak with a gentle tongue. The spirit of Self control is shown when we are slow to anger and slower to speak, being mindful that every thing is not battle for us to fight in words or actions but through prayer and supplication. The spirit of faithfulness is shown when we reach all our deadlines and obligations careful to be a good steward over what God assigned us to. Be faithful enough to God and people to get to work on time. The spirit of forbearance shows when we are able to endure the race ahead and strive to finish rather than giving up. Despite all of these circumstances we can count it all joy. These are the marks of a "good Christian."
So with that being said, if someone asked me what is a "good Christian' I would say that a good follower of Christ is someone who walks by the fruits of the Spirit. These are not just simple works or check lists that Christians abide by to get their golden ticket into heaven. Instead, this is an outward reflection of the inward transformation taking place because of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Spend time today asking God to impart the fruits of the Spirit on you. In your daily prayer and devotional time look for keywords that speak about the fruits of the Spirit. Above all remeber to Love God and Love People.