Thursday, April 18, 2013

Already, Not Yet

Already, Not Yet is a common theme in the Scriptures. We are new creatures in Christ and yet not fully made new. We still struggle in a fallen body but the Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. The Lord has made us joint-heirs with Christ but we have not yet received the promise, the Resurrection of the Body.

As we have been making our way through the fruit of the Spirit, this theme again takes hold. We have the Spirit now and therefore we have the fruit that the Spirit brings into our lives, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. We do, in fact, possess all of these things. Maybe possess is not exactly the right word.  Possess seems to fit for joy and peace but love and kindness are more things that we do. But we understand that these things are a part of our lives. God has worked them into us and we are working them out in our lives before the Lord.

But there is this stark awareness that the fruits of the Spirit are not fully mature in us. We love God and love our neighbor but we are aware of our shortcomings in our devotion to God and service to our neighbor. We have love, already, but it is not yet mature.

This is equally true for the other manifestations of the Spirit. So, we have to keep both what we do have, and what we do not have, in perspective. And keeping both in perspective forces us to rely on Christ, our Savior at every step.

What we do have is God’s promise to us that if we have the Spirit, and thus, we also have the fruit of the Spirit. We do love, for God has manifested His love in us and given us the Spirit of love that we might love others. If our love seems weak, then we look to God’s promise of His Spirit to trust Him that He is, indeed, at work in our lives. If our love seems strong, we need not look too far to realize that we have not yet matured to the point of laying down our lives for the brethren. This keeps us from growing conceited in our obedience and again causes us to look to Jesus to get perspective of where we are in the faith.

So, whether we do well or do poorly, our response is to look to Jesus until we can more accurately walk in the fruit of the Spirit, doing those things God has called us to do in Christ. Looking to Jesus also keeps us from getting carried away with ourselves, thinking we have arrived, when we clearly still have a long way to go.

So, we have the fruit of the Spirit, the promise of even better things to come, and this is a comfort and encouragement to us. But God is not finished with us. He is working out of us all the glory that He has worked into us and one day, when we are actually risen with Jesus in our Resurrected Bodies, we will possess the mature fruit and all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that goes along with it.

No comments: