Let the Spirit’s Fruitage Make Over Your Personality
“Produce fruit that befits repentance. [For] every tree . . . that does not produce fine fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire.”—Matt. 3:8, 10.
1. In his Sermon on the Mount, how did Jesus say we could tell the difference between good and bad trees?
“BY THEIR fruits you will recognize them.” This proverbial truth is often quoted, but not everyone who repeats it knows he is quoting from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. In that Sermon by way of illustration the Great Teacher enlarged on this principle of truth, saying: “Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” “A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart, but a wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of his wicked treasure; for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.”—Matt. 7:16-20; Luke 6:45.
2. What kind of fruitage did Paul say would identify persons who will go into everlasting destruction?
2 In his letter to the Galatians Paul also said that rotten stock could easily be recognized by the worthless fruit it produces. So if you see a person practicing fornication or uncleanness or engaging in loose conduct, if you see an idolatrous person or one practicing spiritism, if you see a person expressing hatred, strife or jealousy, or one being seized in fits of anger, if you see one stirring up contentions, divisions, sects or envies, if you see one engaging in drunken bouts or licentious revelries, or if you see one practicing things like these, then you know you are looking at a rotten tree that is about to be cut down and pitched into the fire of everlasting destruction. “As to these things,” Paul continues, “I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Gal. 5:19-21.
3. From these scriptures to what conclusions do we come?
3 These conclusions are therefore inescapable: rotten trees must first become good trees before they can produce good fruit; the man’s heart must first become good before his mouth can speak forth good things; incorrigible ones who resist and resent changing will be summarily burned up, annihilated. Furthermore, if such changes in personality and in one’s course of conduct were not possible, then Paul’s warning to the Galatians would have been meaningless, without purpose.
4. How are drastic changes in personality made possible today?
4 But how can the mental makeup, the living habits, the way one talks and acts toward others, be altered and changed to the point where one has a completely new personality? Well, how were such drastic changes possible in the case of the Christian Corinthians who formerly had been fornicators, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, and so forth? The inspired Scriptures answer: “But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.” So with this same divine agency, Jehovah’s active force, the holy spirit of our God, the same changes in true followers of our Lord Jesus Christ today can be accomplished.—1 Cor. 6:11.
5. (a) Describe the “fruitage of the spirit.” (b) Who are able to display it?
5 Further assuring us that it is Jehovah’s active force or holy spirit that produces the fine fruit displayed by true Christians, Galatians 5:22-25 declares: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. . . . Moreover, those who belong to Christ Jesus impaled the flesh together with its passions and desires. If we are living by spirit, let us go on walking orderly also by spirit.” As long as a person has the “spirit of the world” he can never hope to bring forth this kind of fruitage, for only those who receive “the spirit which is from God” can do so.—1 Cor. 2:12.
THE BEAUTY OF A NEW PERSONALITY
6. In what ways will a new personality be reflected in one’s speech?
6 Jehovah’s powerful spirit can certainly give a person a completely new personality. For example, if you are long-suffering, mild-tempered and are exercising self-control, certainly your speech and language is bound to improve. If you bridle your tongue, abusive, hateful and cutting remarks will be avoided. You will have a mild answer to give to those who oppose you and revile you. (1 Pet. 3:15) Filthy language, obscene jesting, foolish talking and rotten sayings will not pass your lips if you are being led by Jehovah’s spirit, for you will have a love for his holy Word the Bible and the divine precepts contained therein. That Word commands: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth . . . neither . . . foolish talking nor obscene jesting.” “Now really put them all away from you, . . . abusive speech, and obscene talk out of your mouth.”—Eph. 4:29; 5:4; Col. 3:8; Jas. 3:8-12; Prov. 15:1.
7. (a) In what other ways can Jehovah’s spirit change one’s personality? (b) By exercising self-control what “hurtful desires” can be avoided, to the saving of one’s life?
7 By letting the power of Jehovah’s spirit make over your personality you will be able to exercise self-discipline and self-control in this immoral, sex-maddened, thrill-seeking world. You will be able to “deaden . . . your body members . . . as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire.” Such “hurtful desires” include harmful habit-forming things like the addiction to narcotics and the slavery to tobacco. The same is true when it comes to your personal eating and drinking habits. Moderation and self-control will prevent you from becoming either a glutton or a drunkard. Modern sophisticated society may frown at the insinuation that it is infested with drunkards, preferring to call such addicts by a more fancy name, “alcoholics.” But regardless of what label is attached the Bible declares that unless they make over their personalities by exercising self-control they will never live in God’s clean and sober new order of righteousness.—Col. 3:5; 1 Cor. 6:10; Prov. 23:20, 21.
8. How can one display the fruitage of God’s spirit in the home, and with what results?
8 Particularly in your association with others should you radiate the new personality that only Jehovah’s spirit can develop. Begin to do this in the home among blood relatives, whether they are in the Truth or not, as you deal with the many economic problems and social difficulties of the times. If you exercise self-control, if you show mildness, if you prove you have faith, if you display goodness and kindness, if you are long-suffering, if you bless the home with peace and joy and, above all, if you show love toward everyone, why, even as the apostle Peter says, unbelieving husbands who have the spirit of the world “may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.”—1 Pet. 3:1, 2.
9. (a) Besides in the home, where else should one reflect a Christlike personality? (b) What excuse, then, will opponents have to speak abusively of you?
9 There can be no hypocritical pretension in this regard. This new personality is not to be a thin veneer for outward show, nor is it a pretty veil that is put on or taken off to fit the occasion. Rather, if you have the spirit of God instead of the spirit of the world, then this new personality must be an inseparable part of you. At all times, whether in your home congregation or on an around-the-world tour, whether inside or outside the home, wherever you go this beautiful Christlike personality must also go. When you visit your neighbors and friends in the house-to-house work, when you go to your business, when you go to school, wherever you go, you must display this same new personality for all to see. Your friends and neighbors, your business associates, your schoolteachers and schoolmates, will be compelled to see how the power of Jehovah’s spirit can create in His witnesses completely new personalities. Let their speaking abusively of you be because you do not lose your temper, because you do not lie or steal or cheat, because you do not commit fornication or adultery, because you are not a slave to habit-forming narcotics, including tobacco, because you do not get drunk, “because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery.”—1 Pet. 4:3, 4.
10. What personality characteristics identify those of the Christian congregation?
10 Another place where your loving “new personality” will be noticed, and especially appreciated and admired, is in association with the congregation of Jehovah’s people. Whether that congregation is a small one numbering but a handful or whether it is a large international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses, you must “walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit [which is from God] in the uniting bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3) Colossians 3:12-14 also addresses you who are associated with Jehovah’s congregation, when it says: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Even as Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.”
YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY
11. (a) With whom does the responsibility for a new personality lie, with the creature or with the Creator? Explain. (b) How did Jesus emphasize this point?
11 What is your personal responsibility or obligation in this matter of making over your personality? When you make a dedication of your life to do God’s will, is your acquiring of a new personality entirely up to Jehovah? When you come out of the water of baptism in symbol of such dedication to God, do you automatically and immediately step forth adorned with a clean new personality? No, the change does not come in this fashion or with this speed. First of all, Jehovah does his part; there is no question about this. He provides his active force or holy spirit that makes possible the great change. However, Jehovah makes this provision available only to those desiring it, to those seeking it, to those asking or begging Him to give them such spirit. Jesus emphasized this divine principle when he said in his Sermon on the Mount: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.” For those who first ask, Jehovah can “do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.”—Matt. 7:7, 8; Eph. 3:20.
12. In accepting one’s responsibility for stripping off the old personality, how can self-confidence be avoided?
12 It is therefore your responsibility first to ask Jehovah for his holy spirit as well as prove worthy of receiving it by making a dedication of your life to the doing of his will. Then upon receiving such divine help and power it is your obligation to let the fruitage of that spirit make over your personality. It is your responsibility to strip off the old personality together with its practices. This is not an easy thing to do. It is a tremendous undertaking, and each one individually must put forth a great effort. However, with all your personal effort, without the active force or spirit of Jehovah it could never be accomplished, for no human who is an offspring of the willful sinner Adam has the power and strength in himself. Never forget this. Never become self-reliant or self-confident. Rather, keep on asking for Jehovah’s spirit, keep on seeking Jehovah’s help in this regard.
13. How do some attempt to excuse themselves from personal responsibility in the matter of making over their personalities?
13 Have you ever heard some attempt to excuse themselves from this personal responsibility by saying, “This is just the way I am. I can’t change”? This is the weak crutch that the drunkard or alcoholic and the tobacco and narcotic addicts often lean upon. No one doubts the truthfulness of the first statement, “This is just the way I am.” But when they add, “I can’t change,” they really mean, “I won’t change.” This is the same spirit, the same mental attitude that Cain had. Instead of heeding Jehovah’s warning to “turn to doing good,” Cain obstinately held to the false premise, “I can’t turn; I can’t change,” and so headlong this ‘I-won’t-turn’ man plunged down the course of violence and disobedience to his eternal destruction.—Gen. 4:6-8; Jude 11.
14. Are so-called “split personalities” free to indulge periodically in loose conduct?
14 Then there are those who would like to deceive themselves and others into believing they have what they like to call an uncontrollable “split personality.” This they think excuses them from personal responsibility and gives them license to fly into a fit of anger at the slightest provocation, or to indulge in a periodic fling of loose conduct. But alas, how wrong they are! No ‘Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes’ are acceptable in the theocratic society of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, for such so-called “split personalities” are not pleasing to God. Jesus declared: “He that is not on my side is against me.” It is also written: “You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons.” You cannot have the spirit of the world and at the same time have the spirit of God. Only the stupid one thinks he can remain clean and yet, periodically, return to his vomit and to a rolling in the mire.—Matt. 12:30; 1 Cor. 10:21; 2 Pet. 2:22; Prov. 26:11.
15. As children of the light, how should Christian personalities conduct themselves?
15 Daytime and nighttime cannot be split up and intermixed to suit the whims of anyone. So if we have come out of darkness into His marvelous light, then as children of the light we cannot conduct ourselves as children of darkness. This is Paul’s argument to the Romans. “The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore put off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light. As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.”—Rom. 13:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:9.
GROWTH TOWARD MATURITY AND PERFECTION
16. Are we to suppose that the attaining to a new personality is something that occurs suddenly and completely?
16 Some might conclude from the emphatic language used by the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:9 that this stripping off of the old personality and the replacing of it with a new personality is something that occurs suddenly and completely. Such a conclusion, however, is not according to the Scriptures or the facts. Growth in maturity from the spring planting to the harvest fruitage illustrates the point. The process is gradual and one that requires a great deal of effort and hard work on the part of the farmer. Peter appreciated this principle of gradual growth and development when he wrote: “Supply to your faith virtue, to your virtue knowledge, to your knowledge self-control, to your self-control endurance, to your endurance godly devotion, to your godly devotion brotherly affection, to your brotherly affection love.” Adds Paul: “To what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.”—2 Pet. 1:5-7; Phil. 3:16.
17. How do John and James show that constant effort toward improvement in one’s personality is necessary?
17 So the change in personality characteristics takes time and is something that is never completed in imperfect mankind. Perfection in personality will never be reached this side of Jehovah’s new order of righteousness. Hence the need for constant effort toward improvement. The inspired writers John and James put it this way: “If we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we make the statement: ‘We have not sinned,’ we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.” “We all stumble many times. If anyone does not stumble in word, this one is a perfect man, able to bridle also his whole body.”—1 John 1:8-10; Jas. 3:2.
18, 19. In what never-ending struggle are Christians engaged, as shown in the case of Paul?
18 Not even the apostle Paul while in the fallen flesh reached perfection in his personality. Otherwise he would not have said: “I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.” So down to the day of his death this great Christian warrior admitted that it was necessary to put up a hard fight. “I browbeat my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”—Rom. 7:21-23; 1 Cor. 9:27.
19 As in the apostle Paul’s case, so in ours, if we fail to browbeat the sinful tendencies of the fallen fleshly body and lead it as a slave to the dictates of a new personality, if we fail to display the fruitage of Jehovah’s spirit, we too will be disapproved by Jehovah, and that would be most tragic.
20, 21. According to Jesus’ warning, what will be the consequences if we fall to let the spirit’s fruitage make over our personalities?
20 Do you realize what that means, to be disapproved by Jehovah? Shortly before Jesus was taken captive that last night he warned his disciples of the terrible consequence that would come upon his anointed followers if they were disapproved because of not bearing the fruitage of Jehovah’s spirit. “I am the true vine,” said Jesus, “and my Father is the cultivator. Every branch in me not bearing fruit he takes away, and every one bearing fruit he cleans, that it may bear more fruit. . . . Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, in the same way neither can you, unless you remain in union with me. . . . If anyone does not remain in union with me, he is cast out as a branch and is dried up; and men gather those branches up and pitch them into the fire and they are burned.”—John 15:1-6.
21 Jehovah is a productive cultivator, and he will see to it that everyone in his lush theocratic organization produces and displays the pleasant fruitage of His spirit. Make no mistake about it, if you fail to produce the fruitage of a Christian personality you will have no place in the theocratic society of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses! All the fruitless, wild and lawless suckers in his cultivated organization are quickly lopped off, cast out, dried up and eventually are pitched into the fire of everlasting destruction! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”—Heb. 10:31.
22. Why should we not belittle the discipline of our loving Father, Jehovah?
22 How much better, then, to be disciplined by our heavenly Father, as by the Great Cultivator who cleans his people by his Word and dealings, in order that we may remain in His fertile organization and bear more of the spirit’s fruitage in union with Christ Jesus our Lord. It is true, as Paul wrote to the Hebrews, that such corrective discipline and cleaning of our personalities is painful, “yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” So “do not belittle the discipline from Jehovah, neither give out when you are corrected by him; for whom Jehovah loves he disciplines.”—Heb. 12:5-11.
START COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS
23. Together with Jehovah’s people, what are some of the grand blessings you can now enjoy in great measure?
23 Your letting the spirit’s fruitage make over your personality this side of Armageddon will bring you many Kingdom blessings even amid the present sordid conditions in the world. You too will be able to count your blessings and privileges together with Jehovah’s witnesses. You will have freedom from want, for you will continually enjoy a banquet of rich spiritual food. Your cup will overflow with joy and happiness. Never do the righteous who seek first the Kingdom have to beg for bread. (Matt. 4:4; 6:31-33; Isa. 25:6; Ps. 37:25) You will have freedom from fear of man, for we know that Jehovah can deliver the righteous and give them the victory even when their enemies torture them to death. (Ps. 118:6; Luke 12:4; 1 John 4:18) You will have freedom from slavery to Satan and his demonic organization, for the Truth will set you free to become the happy and willing slaves of Jehovah and Christ Jesus. (John 8:32; Rom. 6:6, 16; 1 Cor. 7:23; Gal. 1:10; Col. 3:23, 24; 1 Pet. 2:16) You will have the freedom to worship and the freedom to assemble with Christ Jesus in your very midst, whether openly by the thousands in great assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses, or secretly behind iron and bamboo curtains. (Matt. 18:20) You will have the freedom and privilege through prayer to talk directly to your Father Jehovah, to petition him for his spirit, his guidance, his strength and his protection. (Matt. 6:6; John 14:13, 14) You will have the freedom and honor to carry about the fear-inspiring name of JEHOVAH as you serve as his dedicated publicity agents and witnesses, proclaiming the everlasting good news to all the nations.
24. What is the all-important purpose served by your bearing more of the spirit’s fruitage?
24 Above all, never overlook the grandest blessing and privilege that any creature could possibly have, namely, sharing in the vindication of the precious Word and sacred Name of your Father Jehovah. Jesus in his illustration of the vine and the branches particularly emphasized this overriding purpose for bearing more of the spirit’s fruitage, saying: “My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples.”—John 15:8.
25. So what should we keep on doing, and with what results?
25 So keep on letting the spirit’s fruitage make over your personality. Keep on bearing much fruitage. Keep on proving that you are a true footstep follower of Christ Jesus and an imitator of his lovely personality. Then, instead of reading the sickening story of your stripped-off old personality, everyone will be so happy and thrilled to make the acquaintance of your attractive new personality in the fruitage that Jehovah’s holy spirit has produced. All to the honor and praise and sanctifying of Jehovah, the most glorious personality in all the universe!