Spiritual Fruit

Lords of Darkness

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Chapter:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 11:28-30 π Lk. 12:15 π Lk. 16:13 π Lk. 23:34 π Jn. 7:38 π 1 Cor. 10:24 π Rom. 2:4 π Rom. 2:8 π Gal. 5:22-23; 2nd π Phlp. 2:4 π Col. 1:24 π Tit. 2:7-8 π Heb. 4:10 π Jas. 1:17

Paul wrote:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. ( Gal. 5:22-23; top )

And Jesus said:

You cannot serve God and mammon [money, riches, wealth]. ( Mt. 6:24; top )

For every fruit of the Spirit of God, there is a counterfeit or alternative fruit of the spirit of mammon. That is, one who lives the life of God bears the fruit of the Spirit whereas the one who is in bondage to the spirit of mammon bears the counterfeit fruit. Let us examine these fruit individually though truly they are deeply interwoven into each other and into the fabric of our lives. The fruit (singular) of the Spirit is all these things woven together to present one composite picture of Christ. The ?fruit? of the spirit of mammon may be more individualized because we may practice some of the works of the flesh that are involved here while avoiding others because we see some as sinful or wrong but we see nothing wrong with our favored sins.

Love: The agape love of Christ compels us to care for and serve the others around us. Though this requires that we set aside some or even all of our own plans and agendas, loving others brings great personal satisfaction and fulfillment, meets real needs and prompts people to desire God. This agape love is much more than hugs and kisses and meeting together for “fellowship” - it is the self-sacrificing care and ministering one pours forth from the depths of his being to complete what remains undone in Christ’s sacrifice. (see Jn. 7:38 ; Col. 1:24; top )

The alternative for one enslaved to money and wealth is mere tolerance. Family members (whether physically or spiritually), seeking to keep from constantly fighting with each other, can only tolerate one another’s sins and errors and maintain a false facade of unity and togetherness. The reality is that they would rather be apart than together. This lie, perhaps more so than any other, is what makes holiday gatherings of dysfunctional families such a tortuous event.

Whereas true agape love requires that we reprove or rebuke one another in the hope of bringing about godly repentance, the one in bondage to mammon can only resort to manipulation. Manipulation by guilt and anger are perhaps the most common forms of manipulation as the one seeking to dominate someone else (so as to bring about their own agenda) stirs up their victim’s guilty conscience or tries to intimidate the victim with overbearing anger. The former works well against those who are unsure of the fullness of their forgiveness in Christ and the latter against those who are susceptible to fear, particularly if they believe they are vulnerable in some way to the one attempting to dominate them.

Joy: The joy one experiences in the Lord is not a happiness based on fortuitous circumstances in one’s life. Rather it is the rapturous union of the human spirit with the Divine Spirit. As such it defies understanding or explanation. This joy is the spontaneous and continuous response of the spirit and soul to the presence of the Spirit of Christ within. It is the joyous liberation of body, soul and spirit from the power of sin and death.

The alternative for the one enslaved to mammon is anger. Unfulfilled expectations for self and others results in frustration at being unable to force ourself or others to do as we want. When left unchecked, this anger will result in a bondage to anger (an “uncontrolled temper”) that is a wide open door for further demonic enslavement that wreaks havoc on whomever comes under its fury.

Peace: The peace of Christ is not a mere cessation of hostilities between men or even between men and God (though it is indeed that) but it is the supreme rest in ceasing from one’s own labors so as to co-labor with Christ whose burden is easy. (see Heb. 4:10 ; Mt. 11:28-30; top )

The alternative for the one enslaved to mammon is fear and strife. The one who accumulates worldly treasures is now afraid that his treasures will be stolen or destroyed. And he strives against those whom he perceives as trying to relieve him of his treasures. When it is one’s mistaken ideas of needs that is the perceived robber, this strife will take the form of what is commonly called “work-aholism” as the victim is driven to work and produce vast quantities of materials and wealth so as to stave off the perceived impending impoverishment. The atmosphere of fear and strife that surrounds one enslaved to mammon eats away at any love others may have toward that one.

Longsuffering: The one who has the Spirit of Christ living within can endure and persevere in circumstances that others find intolerable and unacceptable. He can forego luxuries and creature comforts so as to attain to the will of God for his life.

The alternative for the one enslaved to money is to be fixated on comforts and luxuries, looking for ways to use his resources to ease his own life. Often this one is quick tempered and lashes out whenever he must endure any embarrassment, discomfort, hardship or loss of material possessions.

Kindness: The one who lives by the Spirit of God within looks for ways to be kind and caring toward others. This is not mere superficial gestures performed during times of special recognition for certain people. No. It is the consistent attitude of watchfulness for opportunities to demonstrate respect and care for any and/or all others.

The alternative for the one enslaved to wealth is self-seeking which results in a negligent failure to attend to the needs and interests of others (see 1 Cor. 10:24 ; Phlp. 2:4 ) and which renders that one eligible for God’s indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish. (see Rom. 2:8; top ) Even when a gift, especially a large one, is given in what they believe to be “generosity,” it is really a manipulation to draw the recipient into bondage to money. For example, a vehicle given to a growing family is not given just to help ease that family’s transportation problems - it is given so that the family can maintain the appearance of family “togetherness” by enabling the family to travel to distant family gatherings or so that the family can drive themselves to “church” without being such a burden on the “transportation ministry.” A gift that covers a deposit and first month’s rent for an apartment, for example, can really be just a way that lures people into greater levels of debt and financial burdens than what they are already in. When such a gift requires one to step into a greater appearance of affluence or contradicts the leading of the Lord in that one’s life, the gift is only a manipulation to get the recipient of the gift to adopt or practice some deceptive philosophy or belief of the giver. Beware of such gifts because the hidden cost may well be bondage to the demonic.

Goodness: The goodness which one who lives the life of Christ exhibits goes beyond kindness. It is a direct expression of the nature of God (see Jas. 1:17 ) and the very thing which leads people to repent of their sins. ( Rom. 2:4 ) It is the same kind of goodness Christ displayed on the cross, asking the Father to forgive those who were executing Him. ( Lk. 23:34 ) It is the good works, integrity, reverence, incorruptibility and soundness that cannot be condemned and spoken evil of. ( Tit. 2:7-8; top )

The alternative for the one devoted to misusing wealth is greed and exploitation. “I need more!” or “I don’t have enough!” is their excuse for hoarding and stashing away every penny they can get their hands on without overtly robbing anyone or breaking any laws for which they could be easily caught and convicted. Though these will not straightforwardly rob a gas station or mug a pedestrian, they do not hesitate to pay their employees (or even family members) less than a fair or reasonable value for their services even when this “thrift” is unnecessary for the employer and it lays a heavy burden of want and deprivation on the employee. This is nothing but exploitation of whatever feelings of love, duty and loyalty that one may have for the wealthy slave of mammon.

Faithfulness: The faithfulness that is produced in one living the life of Christ is loyalty and steadfastness to the Person and truth of Christ. It is the refusal to compromise and participate in any form of deception or misrepresentation of the gospel, even if that means great personal loss (even life itself) for Christ’s sake.

The alternative for the one ensnared by riches is selfishness - loyalty to only me and mine. One’s attitude is not that the people around them are people to be respected, cared for and watched out for. Rather they are my possessions (my family, my wife, my children, etc.) here to satisfy some purpose, need or desire of mine. The result is that the one enslaved to wealth is ignorant of or indifferent to the damage his actions do to those around him.

Gentleness: The gentleness of Christ within is not some effeminate, soft-spoken gentility. Rather it is more like the gentling of a horse whereby the horse, who is far larger, faster and stronger than a man, is brought into submission to a rider. Once a horse is gentled, a light pull on the reins causes the horse to move according to the desires of the rider. So too, a slight word from Christ causes the believer who bears this fruit of the Spirit to do the will of God.

The alternative for the one enslaved to mammon is to be wild or self-willed in the sense of a wild animal who will not be tamed and brought under control. Like a wild horse, this one runs wildly across the land following only his basic instincts. Whereas horses can be mastered to produce even life-saving results, the wild, self-willed horse is only dangerous. It will fight for territory and will steal mares from other horses and even tamed herds. So too, the one who has sold his soul for money will neglect, damage or even destroy the lives of others around him just to gain some luxury or comfort.

Self-control: The self-control of the one living the life of Christ is the ability to do that which is right, good and Christ-honoring. It is not just a matter of biting one’s tongue before saying something destructive or of refraining from unleashing one’s temper on some poor hapless victim. It is the re-ordering of one’s priorities and desires within one’s soul and the result is the outward actions that demonstrate that restraint and self-control which brings honor and glory to Christ.

The alternative for the one enslaved to wealth is to be rash or lawless (doing what is right in one’s own eyes). That is, rash, not in the sense of being impetuous or flighty, but in the sense of quick to launch into any project or undertaking which will produce some sort of gain for self. Doing any and everything which is right or good for me is the essence of the fallen sin nature of man. The damage it does to the others around me - who deserve at least equal respect and care such as we give to ourselves - is virtually incalculable.

These are the two types of characteristics that are produced by submitting either to God or to mammon (riches, money, wealth). From this study, we can see the depth of Jesus’ statement:

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. ( Lk. 16:13; top )

One is either filled to overflowing with the beneficial characteristics of God - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control ( Gal. 5:22-23 ) - or one is possessed by the spirit of money and is consumed by the abundance of the things he possesses. ( Lk. 12:15; top ) The man who has the characteristics of God (in whatever amount or degree he has them), though he have no money to speak of, is far more to be envied and emulated than is the man who, though he have more money than he can ever spend, bears the counterfeit, damaging fruit of his god, wealth (money, riches, mammon). Let he who has ears hear.

Misusing Wealth π Material Wisdom
Lords of Darkness

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