|The Fruitful Life, a
book written by Jerry Bridges, has convicted me of the need to actively
seek growth in bearing the fruit of the Spirit in my life. The Holy Spirit
is the source, but each aspect of that fruit is an action to be taken by
me. I have to exercise these qualities. I can't expect God to be gentle
for me or to be kind for me.
This book consists of 12 chapters. The first three describe the goal and motivation and source of the fruitful life. The goal is to become like God in love and character. (Ephesians 4:22-24; II Corinthians 3:18) Our motivation is “reverence for the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22) God is the source of the power to grow into his likeness. “Only He can provide the spiritual power to enable us to live godly lives.” (II Corinthians 3:5; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 4:13)
Jerry bridges reminds us, “We need to learn that the Bible teaches both total responsibility [ours] and total dependence [on God] in all aspects of the Christian life.” We must apply ourselves to an active pursuit of godly traits while relying on God's power.
The next eight chapters define and describe the fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. For example, in the chapter “Gentleness,” “We should not be so strongly opinionated or dogmatic that others are afraid to express their opinions in our presence. Instead, we should be sensitive to others’ opinions and ideas.” This is only one of several practical examples given of how gentleness and other traits are expressed.
Every chapter includes a section Exercises for Practice and Discussion. At the end of the chapter on gentleness, two questions asked are: “In what ways is God gentle?” and “Why does it take strength to be gentle?” These sections at the conclusion of each chapter can be helpful to impress the lessons and the character trait on the reader's mind.
The last chapter “Seeking a Deeper Devotion” describes how to build “the inward foundation of devotion to God.” The author writes, “Wholehearted God-centeredness, or devotion to God, bears fruit in our lives--the fruit of the Spirit. Both the practice of devotion to God and the practice of a lifestyle that is pleasing to God reflect His character to other people.”
Jerry Bridges wrote, “Both the fear of
God and the love of God motivate us to obedience and that obedience proves
they are authentic in our lives."