In Galatians 5:22-24, after Paul had listed the works of the flesh, he describes the life changed by Christ:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
What means do disciple-makers have at our disposal to help our (His) disciples live out the fruit of the Spirit? How can we assist those in whom we are investing to exhibit the fruit in their daily lives? At the same time, how can we do so in such a way so as not to get in the way of the work of the Spirit?
As I look through the list, the nine fruit are more than simply feelings or attitudes. They are actions, choices, disciplines, and even Christian habits. In Practicing Sunday School Lesson Improvements, there are three steps shared for helping teachers develop new good teaching practices. Those same three steps can also be used to assist disciples in developing spiritual, mental, and behavioral disciplines of the fruit of the Spirit.
Here are the steps shared in that blog post:
- show them the change,
- talk about the change, and
- practice the change.
Allow me to explain how these steps could be adjusted for disciple-making. Consider the following brief, oversimplification:
SHOW THEM THE FRUIT. Identify one of the fruit of the Spirit on which your disciple wants (or needs) to grow more Christ-like. Demonstrate the fruit. Do some role plays. Show some movie clips.
TALK ABOUT THE FRUIT. Study scripture passages related to that fruit. Look for evidence of that fruit in Jesus’ life and the disciples. Develop a definition and description for that fruit. Talk about how that fruit might be expressed.
PRACTICE THE FRUIT. Talk about options for responses to situations that could test that fruit. Brainstorm or role play Spirit-led responses. Make assignments to practice what was learned during the week (before you gather back together).
This same process could also help in establishing disciple habits of prayer, Bible reading, tithing, etc. More than head knowledge should be growing as spend time with and live for Jesus. Our thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors should be impacted as well.