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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of May 4, 2020

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.

Inner purity results in outer power.

In Psalm 24:3, David ponders, "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?" Then, he answers: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior" (Psalm 24:4-5).

Here, David tells us that in order to stand before the Lord, you must have "clean hands and a pure heart." Such inner purity results in a "blessing from the Lord and vindication from God." What an excellent reward for keeping a pure heart!

Intuitively, to have God's power flowing through you requires a clear "path" through which it can flow. In other words, if you want God's power to be working in your life, you must keep a clean conscience and a pure heart. It's no surprise, then, that Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (Matthew 5:8).

Having outer, visible power requires having a developed, mature inner life. A believer who tries to have a powerful outer life but lacks that pure inner life is like a tree with lots of branches that lacks roots. When the storm comes and the winds blow, the tree topples, because it has no roots. Likewise, you must develop solid "roots" in your inner life, if you ever want to bear strong, stable fruit in your outer life.

Similarly, in Colossians 2:6-7, Paul instructed the early Christians to be "rooted and built up in [Christ], strengthened in the faith as you were taught." We too, need to be rooted and grounded in God.

King David also knew the importance of inner purity. After he had ordered the murder of Uriah and committed adultery with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11), he obviously lacked inner purity. However, in Psalm 51:10, David asked God to cleanse him: "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." His desire for inner purity was necessary before he could "receive blessing from the Lord."

Since inner purity results in outer power, I challenge you to take David's prayer and make it your own.

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