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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 6, 2021

The Fruit of the Spirit ought to be the trademark of every believer.

How can you identify Christians? Not by their outward appearances, their WWJD bracelets, their Jesus bumper-stickers, or any other superficial items.

Instead, Jesus tells us that we are known by our fruit: "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (Matthew 7:16-20).

The "fruit" that Jesus is talking about is the Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). In other words, when the world sees Christians, they should see the Fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, etc.

When you see the "golden arch" you can identify that building as a McDonalds restaurant, and when you see the "swoosh" you can identify that article of clothing as part of the Nike brand. Just like those things, when people in the world see someone consistently displaying the Fruit of the Spirit regardless of the circumstances, they should be able to identify that person as a Christian. Believers need to be marked by the Fruit of the Spirit.

If you puff yourself up you'll get the wind knocked right out of you.

Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." This principle can be clearly seen in the life of King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, by examining Daniel chapter 4.

King Nebuchadnezzar started out praising God and giving Him the credit: "It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation" (Daniel 4:2-3). Here, Nebuchadnezzar is humble.

However, over the course of a year, something happened that caused the king to begin to take credit for his circumstances: "As the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, 'Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?' " (Daniel 4:29-30, italics added). Nebuchadnezzar is no longer giving God credit. Instead, he is full of pride and is puffing himself up.

However, as is always the case, "Pride goes before destruction." So, God punished Nebuchadnezzar by sending him out to live like a wild animal for seven years (See Daniel 4:31-33).

Then, Daniel 4:34 records the king's response: "At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored." Interestingly, the king said that his pride caused him to lose his sanity and that now, as a result of being humbled by God, his sanity was restored. In order to humble him, God humiliated him. Indeed, a humiliating experience will almost always humble someone.

The chapter concludes with Nebuchadnezzar's reflection: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble" (Daniel 4:37).