Friday, November 12, 2021

The Fruit of the Spirit in a Writing Career (Part 2)

by Joshua J. Master @JoshuaJMasters

“If God has called me to write—if His purpose in creating me is crafting words to glorify His name, then should I not experience the Fruit of the Spirit in my writing career?”

That’s the question we asked in last month’s column.

As we pursue the calling God has placed in our lives to write, it should draw us closer to Him. And that will produce the fruit we see described in the book of Galatians:

… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a NLT)

In part one of this article, we explored how the first four traits (love, joy, peace, and patience) reveal themselves in our writing. 

Now, we’ll continue with the remaining characteristics.

The Greek word used for kindness is closely tied to goodness (which is the next trait in our spiritual fruit) but this word specifically refers to having the qualities of tenderness and compassion for others. So, the greatest threat to a Christian writer’s kindness fruit is a competitive spirit. 

Have you ever felt a brief sting when you see someone’s “I’m signing a contract” photo on Facebook? What about that post with an oversized, gold award seal on another writer’s book? How we feel about the success and failures of other people is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. A tender, compassionate heart rejoices in the achievements of others and invests in the lives of those battling discouragement.

The act of writing may be solitary, but the life of a Christian writer is not. If you’re struggling with a competitive spirit, ask God to reveal who He wants you to encourage or build up. Be an ambassador of kindness in a world of rivalry. 

If kindness is about your relationship with others, goodness is about your relationship with God. The word used for goodness in this passage could more accurately be translated, “moral excellence.” That’s a little more intimidating, isn’t it?

None of us will be perfect until Christ completes His work in us on the day He returns (Philippians 1:6), but the closer we walk in the righteousness of Christ, the more effective we are in representing Him in our lives and writing. If, however, we’re living with a secret sin of willful disobedience, our writing ministry will become dull and ineffective.

Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs because they did everything right on outside but were dead on the inside. We can write the best turn of phrase and use all the right scriptures, but if our secret life is far from God, our writing won’t produce real fruit. Do we want our words to be a seemingly beautiful bowl of plastic fruit without purpose or a harvest of nourishment for those who read it? 

Without condemnation, we should all ask God to reveal anything He needs to heal or restore in us (Psalm 139:23-24). 

That last one seemed a little rough, didn’t it? But here’s the good news, there’s a proven path to a life of goodness. God is faithful. He’s faithful to His promises, to His plan, and to His children. And as we lean into His faithfulness, we develop that same trait in our own lives.

Faithfulness is living in the assurance and confidence of God’s purpose and plan. If God has called you to be a writer, He has a path and a plan to glorify His name through the gift He’s given you. 

Stop measuring your career by what the world says you should be and start writing from the promise of who He’s made you to be.

Devote more time to discovering who you are in Christ by seeking a deeper relationship with the One who created you for a purpose greater than yourself. Goodness doesn’t come from beating yourself up or trying harder. Goodness is developed in our lives by basking in the goodness of God. And we do that by faithfully seeking Him in a deep, personal relationship.

Developing gentleness is the next step in overcoming that spirit of jealousy we talked about in our description of kindness. The word has a deeper meaning in biblical writings that digs into the depth of our hearts. It means meekness and humility. I love the definition from Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words that calls gentleness “an inwrought grace of the soul.”

The greatest way to be used by God is to surrender to the way He wants to use you. We all have dreams for our writing careers, but can we find joy in our writing if God’s plan is different from our own (we talked about joy in Part 1 of this column)? 

It’s so tempting for us to use the sentence, “I want God to use me” as a self-deceiving cover for a heart that cries, “I want God to make me successful.” But as we make our relationship with Christ a greater priority than our writing goals, our souls begin to desire God’s outcome for our writing rather than our own. And that humble posture always has a greater impact on your life and the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:5). 

At first glance, this might seem like another painful warning against sin, but the root of this word means strength—the strength of Christ living in you to overcome your own desires and live for His. There are countless blog posts extolling the necessity of discipline in your writing. For me, that’s virtually impossible in the flesh, but the Fruit of the Spirit makes the priorities of God’s mission for us our deepest longing.

The promise of the Spirit’s work is to place a desire for self-control and discipline in our hearts that won’t require spreadsheets or alarms. True strength isn’t curbing your desires but shifting them to a true love for what you should be doing. 

Admittedly, the second half of the list can feel more convicting than the examination of love, joy, peace, and even patience. But none of them are truly attainable without the Holy Spirit. These character traits aren’t called The Fruit of Discipline or The Harvest of Trying Harder. They’re the natural, God-given result of a life surrendered to the Gardener. A tree doesn’t try to grow a peach; the peach grows naturally as a loving caretaker nurtures the tree to be healthy. 

Relying on our own ability to develop this fruit in our writing will only lead to frustration and withered dreams. But leaning into the care of the One who planted the seed of writing in your soul will result in a greater harvest and an unimaginable life of hope and purpose.


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Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker with a heart for encouraging others. His book on prayer, AMERICAN PSALMS, was a Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade finalist. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, the Light Radio Network, and worked in the film industry as a member of SAG-AFTRA performer. He is a regular teacher and speaker for large groups. A self-proclaimed sci-fi and comic book geek, Josh loves film, pop culture and is known in some circles as THE BAT PASTOR. Joshua was raised in the White Mountains of New England and now serves as a pastor in South Carolina where he lives with his wife, Gina, and their miniature poodle, FRANKLIN THE PUP, who is the subject of his latest book. Josh would love to connect with you on his website, JOSHUAJMASTERS.COM

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this, Joshua. I love the way you gave deeper definitions of the attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit. This quote of yours is so true. "Stop measuring your career by what the world says you should be and start writing from the promise of who He’s made you to be." We all have different audiences and different purposes God called us to. When we give Him our goals we can fulfill that purpose.