I have spent a good part of my life as a Christian but I am not sure that until recently any real fruit was growing in my life. I was doing some things on the outside but on the inside things weren't really changing very much.
Christ actually comes to live in us when God imparts His Holy Spirit. What an opportunity! What are we doing with it? It's only when we truly crucify our flesh and get rid of the old man that the Spirit of God can grow in us.
When I started to seriously ask myself how I was doing, I had to admit failure. Why? Because I was hanging on to things that I should have let go years ago. I wasn't taking responsibility for my own actions. It was always someone else's fault that I got angry, acted immaturely, spoke unkindly, etc. It's easy to make excuses for why we aren't behaving like Christians. But excuses are just forms of human reasoning. We are lying to ourselves.
This is a world of people absorbed in themselves. We see the effects of this self-absorption in politics, entertainment, careers and families. As Christians, it can be a real battle to stand against this. For in reality who but Satan is the ultimate self-absorbed creature? His message is strong. As Christians, we are to stand fast against him (1 Peter 5:8) and not follow his lead. We are to follow in the steps of the Good Shepherd Christ (1 Peter 2: 21-22).
What does this ultimately come down to? It's all about making right choices. We are faced with hundreds of choices every day. Some of these choices involve issues of sin some do not. When these choices do involve sin we can't compromise. We need to "choose life."
Satan has filled our world with many negative emotions. They are the root cause of complaining, lies, self-pity and hatred. They invade every facet of every society. They even invade Christians' lives and homes. These negative emotions cause us to make the wrong choices and sin (James 4:1).
With God's help we need to replace these negative things with positive, godly things; things like peace, thanksgiving, praise, kindness, truth. It's not enough just to stop doing something negative. It's like digging a hole. You can take the dirt out; but if you don't put something else in the hole, eventually the dirt you removed will wash back into it.
A few years ago the shoe manufacturer Nike came up with a slogan that became familiar worldwide. The slogan was "JUST DO IT." Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we, like the slogan, must "just do it." We must allow God to work change in our lives. And perhaps a better slogan would be the familiar "Let go and let God!" Let go of that old creation and start becoming that new creature in Christ.
James admonished us to be "doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). God expects evidence of the fruits of His Holy Spirit in our lives. We are new creatures in Christ. We should be like beacons in a dark world. How are we doing?