So, in what areas of life are we to manifest the fruit of the Spirit? Just at church?
We are to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in all areas of life.
We so easily miss that. It’s easy to think of the fruit of the Spirit and other Christian virtues as applying to some abstract realm, rather than being the character qualities we are to manifest every day, in all areas of life — which includes our work.
The fruit of the Spirit, in fact, have a massive application in our daily work, if you think about it.
For example, the first fruit of the Spirit is “love.” How does this apply at work? It means that our aim in all that we do should be the good of others. It means we should put others before ourselves — not just in some abstract realm of life, but in the concrete situations of our everyday life, which includes our work.
Another fruit of the Spirit is “peace.” This means that the notion of “stress free productivity” is actually, in some sense, biblical. Christians are not to be frazzled, crazy people tossed to and fro by the urgencies of the day. We are to have a peace and equanimity of mind in how we go about our work. A productivity system helps with this, but it isn’t the ultimate source of our peace — our peace ultimate comes through faith, not our ability to organize ourselves.
Another fruit of the Spirit is “kindness.” To be kind means to be proactive in doing good. This means that in our work, we shouldn’t simply do the minimum required of us, but should seek to go beyond and be excellent. We should not cut corners, but always be on the lookout to make things better for others — the customers we ultimately serve as well as our colleagues, managers, and direct reports. This is another way of saying that we should work with a spirit of generosity. A Christian does not simply do the minimum; he seeks to do the kind of work that goes the extra mile in improving people’s lives and making their lives better. A Christian is not just generous in what he does with his money, the fruit of his work; he is generous in how he goes about the work itself.
Another fruit of the Spirit is “faithfulness.” This means Christians should be dependable and reliable and stand by their word. This is what we typically think of when we think of a Christian doctrine of work, and it is indeed right here in the fruit of the Spirit. Part of faithfulness also means not playing games with people, not spinning things, and not being a political trickster to advance yourself by stepping on others.
God’s call to work is not simply a call for us to work, but for us to work in a certain way — diligently, thoughtfully, generously, and for the good of others.
And, this also helps us see why our work matters. For when we are doing our work, we aren’t just doing work. We are engaging in an opportunity to display the fruit of the Spirit and manifest the character of God all day long, right here in the concrete realities of everyday life.