How do you know there’s been an elephant in your fridge? Remember that one? The answer is: “There are footprints in the butter.” All they’re really saying is, “There is evidence.” How do police solve crimes? Evidence. How do I know if someone is a South African citizen? He has his SA ID document as evidence. How do I know if someone is a Christian? He says so? That seems to be the common consensus. If I say anything about someone not acting like he’s a Christian I hear, “but you can’t say he’s not a Christian. He says he is so he must be.” It seems like evidence is need for just about anything except for your faith. I just don’t understand how there is apparently no criteria to measure whether someone is a follower of Jesus or not. Or is there?


Matthew 7:15-20, “Constantly be on your guard against phony prophets. They come disguised as lambs, appearing to be genuine, but on the inside they are like wild, ravenous wolves! You can spot them by their actions, for the fruits of their character will be obvious. You won’t find sweet grapes hanging on a thorn bush, and you’ll never pick good fruit from a tumbleweed. So if the tree is good, it will produce good fruit; but if the tree is bad, it will bear only rotten fruit and it deserves to be cut down and burned. Look at the obvious fruit of their lives and ministries, and then you’ll know whether they are true or false.”


This is quite clear. Look for the fruit. It speaks here of false prophets, but I don’t think it just applies to prophets or the five-fold ministry for that matter. It certainly applies to each and every person who calls himself a Christian. What are the fruit?

Galatians 5:19-23, The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all other similar behavior.

Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom realm of God!

But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions:

joy that overflows,

peace that subdues,

patience that endures,

kindness in action,

a life full of virtue,

faith that prevails,

gentleness of heart, and

strength of spirit.

Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.

That is the fruit. If you look at my life and there is no love, joy or peace can I call myself a Christian? Will I have any credibility? What about patience and self-control, or gentleness? As far as I’m concerned gentleness is a fruit that is overlooked most of the time. It is also often mistaken for weakness. What is more heart-warming than being with a person who is gentle of spirit? It makes you feel safe and accepted.

Matthew 11:29, Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.

Jesus is gentle and humble. But people in today’s society think that the way to get ahead in life is by being controlling and harsh. By looking out for their own interests above all else. Being gentle does not mean you have to let people walk all over you and it definitely doesn’t mean you are weak. Gentleness is like dew on dry grass, like a butterfly touching down on a flower, like a bird slowly gliding on an air current. Gentle has power.

We don’t need to judge others, but we do need to ask ourselves daily whether we live up to these criteria. Does the Spirit of God dwell inside of us and are we bearing appropriate fruit? If we are doubtful of the answer we need to ask ourselves some very serious questions and decide what to do about it. Remember, God is waiting for us to start speaking to Him. It’s easy and He is gentle and He loves us.

Heavenly Character

How often don’t we speculate about how things are going to be in Heaven. What is it going to look like? Will there be animals? Will we still have relationships with the people we were close to? People write books about their near death experiences where they were given glimpses of Heaven. We ask these and many more questions all the time, but do we ever wonder what we are going to be like in Heaven? Obviously we are going to have a new body after we have been resurrected from death. There are many references to our glorified bodies in scripture.
1 Corinthians 15:44, It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. It there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Having established that, does the Bible say that we are going to receive wonderful, pure characters once we reach Heaven? Does is say that our prejudice and bad habits will be supernaturally washed away after we die? No, it doesn’t. We have to work on our character now while we are on earth because I think this is the only chance we are going to get. I think so because there are so many references to Godly character in scripture. If we didn’t need to be as much like Jesus as we could possibly be, why would good characteristics be emphasised so much? Why would there be fruit of the Spirit if they weren’t absolutely necessary?
Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;…
We have to admit that the person who constantly manifests these traits is pretty near to being perfect. Very close to what Jesus was. But how many of us can claim that we walk our daily walk clothed in these?
Then in Romans 5 there is talk of rejoicing in our sufferings. This is hard and our natural reaction to suffering is that it is not fair, and if God loved us He wouldn’t allow us to go through all this hard stuff. But look what it says:
Romans 5:3-5, Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
James 1:2-4, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:12, Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.
If we look at suffering and hardship as something that is going to make much better people of us then we are able to endure it with a good attitude. We shouldn’t see hard times as being unfair or as a personal attack.
2 Timothy 3:10,You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness…
Paul is emphasising these characteristics for a reason. If they weren’t important to have he wouldn’t have mentioned them. We don’t just need these good attributes so that God can pat us on the head and say we’ve passed a test and now we can go to Heaven one day and sit around worshipping Him all the time. I truly believe that we are going to need these qualities to be able to function after we leave earth. There are hints throughout the Bible of the time to come.
1 Corinthians 6:2-3, Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life?
We are being prepared for something much higher and holier than what we are experiencing on earth at the moment, and we need to put our full weight behind our efforts to live a life that reflects Jesus.

A little bit more like Jesus

Today we were speaking to the local high school principal. Now let me just say that I have the greatest admiration for this man. He took an ailing school and he’s in the process of turning it around and it is going to be a success story of note. He was speaking of new initiatives he is going to implement and how he has been motivating the pupils by inspiring them rather than lecturing them on their faults. I was inspired and wished that I had had a principal like that. Speaking to someone who is positive is so much more appealing than speaking to someone who is negative.

Just look at the Ten Commandments for instance. The only command with no negatives in it is Exodus 20:12 which says, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” That is also the only command which comes with a promise. Look at Matthew 22:35 -40 “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing Him, and saying. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’  Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

I know that all of them are very relevant for moral living, but I also know that it is much easier for us humans to follow positive instructions than negative ones. If I keep telling you that you are doing something wrong, and that you shouldn’t be doing it you are going to get really irritated with me and eventually I am not going to have a good relationship with you and I won’t have any influence on your life.  Anyway you probably already know that it’s something you shouldn’t do.

A Christian shouldn’t have to run back to the Ten Commandments every time he has to make a decision to know whether he is doing the right thing or not. The Commandments were given to people who had no relationship with God. They had decided that they did not want to speak to Him directly and that they would rather let Moses speak to God and then relay the messages to them. Exodus 20:19, “Then they said to Moses, ‘You speak with us , and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for god has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.’ So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.”

The law of the Old Testament which went along with the Commandments was impossible to keep. Romans 8:3 – “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” The law did not have the ability to put the Holy Spirit into people’s hearts. Only the blood that Jesus spilled on the cross could do that. The law could not change hearts, only Jesus could do that. The law could not implement salvation, only the death of Jesus could do that.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.“ The law could not forgive sins. Only when Jesus died on the cross did He take all our sins, iniquities, sickness and poverty on Him when He died so that we can be free. We aren’t free to do as we please and live immoral lives. The Ten Commandments are moral commands, but we don’t need them to know whether we are sinning or not. We have the Holy Spirit living in us, not as some say, to act as our conscience, but to allow us to grow. What do we grow? We grow fruit. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” If we have the fruit of the Spirit you aren’t going to need the law! You are definitely not going to be transgressing any of the Ten Commandments.

Jesus taught that we have to love God with everything in us, and love others as we love ourselves, and then the Holy Spirit came to live in us and allow us to  have the fruit of the Spirit. Why would we want or need to follow any “Thou shalt nots?” Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If this is the way we are encouraged to think wouldn’t it make much more sense that we are going to be able to influence people by giving them positive examples to follow, rather than negative rules?

I know that the principal is onto a good thing because, just like Jesus, he is leading by example and he is being positive. We should all try every day to be a little bit more like Jesus.