In concluding this series, I have some final thoughts on the importance of paying attention to and engaging our spirits. This relates to character, the growing of spiritual fruit. If we have been a Christian for any length of time, we likely know some version of these two verses.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
A key aspect is the connection between our spirit and His Spirit. While these fruits appear to be the character of Jesus on display, which I think they are, we need to look at how do they grow in us. Paul says we are to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25) and to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18). In practice there isn’t anything mysterious here. We display love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control through submitting our will to His and following His leading.
This is a two part process. Our submission requires the engagement of our spirit, paying attention to the inner promptings He gives. When we want to respond with anger or impatience and choose not to because of His leading we are submitting to Him. When we then take the next step and respond in patience and gentleness, we are following His leading and manifesting the fruit of submission to Jesus in us. In essence hearing and bearing are connected. As we hear and respond to His voice and presence inside of us, we produce the fruit of His presence. Jesus described this same process elsewhere.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:4 (NKJV)
A story that illustrates well this abiding and bearing fruit is something that happened in the life of the great Corrie Ten Boom. Her father and sister died in Nazi concentration camps. After the war she wrote, travelled and spoke, sharing the love of Jesus. People would often come up at the end of events to speak with her. One time a man walking toward her had been one of the guards where she and her sister were imprisoned and where her sister Betsie died. She shared how difficult it was to first not respond in bitterness, to choose in the moment to forgive and then reach out offering her hand in friendship and forgiveness.
Most of us are unlikely to need to forgive something this horrendous. However, we are all called to submit to His inner voice and conviction and demonstrate the fruit of Jesus character in our interactions with others. In short, we are to walk in the Spirit/spirit.