by: Joel Arrington
I work with computers...a lot! We all do.
Whether it be our TV, our phones, a laptop, desktop or tablet, we all use computers and we all have an expected output for those devices. When we touch an app, we expect it to open. When we move the mouse, we want to see the cursor move, too. When these things don't happen like they should or as fast as they should, we consider the device to be "broken".
When someone brings a computer to me and tells me that it's "broken", they are telling me that the output is wrong or not what they are expecting. When the output is broken, then I first have to examine to see that the input is correct. Is the computer plugged in? Is the phone charged? Are you connected to the internet? Are you clicking the right buttons? If the input is correct, then I examine the processing. Are all the parts working correctly? Are they operating too slowly or outdated? Is there a bug or virus interrupting the process? With all the inputs and processes a computer runs, how in the world do I know where to start looking for problems? I can simply look at the output, or lack thereof, to get an idea of where the real problems are.
Galatians 5:22-23 explains to us that the Fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In other words, the Fruit of the Spirit is like the expected "output" for a Jesus Follower. We can see this output in the way we speak to others, the way we act around others, the way we treat each other. God expects us to produce these things, and so does the world around us (John 13:35).
When we take time to examine our output and realize that these things are missing or even opposite, we must look at our input and our processing to identify what is broken. What is our input? John 15:5 tells us that Christ is our input when we are actively engaged with him through daily relationship building. We are "in Him'' when we read his word and think of scripture daily. We are abiding with Him when we go to Him first in prayer for our own needs and the needs of others. We grow closer to Him when we regularly join other Jesus Followers in our church worship services and bible studies.
It is not enough to do all the right things like read your bible and go to church, though. Your correct input must be processed by the working of the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-17 tells us that as Jesus Followers, we have the Holy Spirit in us. People who do not have a personal relationship with Christ do not have the Holy Spirit and therefore will not produce the fruit, or output as listed in Galatians 5. The Holy Spirit takes our input and uses it to make correct output. However, our hard hearts, the presence of unconfessed sin, or just general rebellion will hinder the work of the Spirit.
With a constant connection to Christ as your input and the willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to process within you, you will see love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as an output. And so will the world around you.
Are you willing to examine your own actions? How do you treat others? What do you say on social media? What output do people see from you? Is your output in line with that of a Jesus Follower? If not, are you willing to allow God to examine your input and processing to point out and fix errors?