From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
In order for a tree to grow and bear fruit, its seed must first be planted in the ground and die. For fruit to appear in our lives the Word of God must be planted in our hearts and then we must die to self, making Christ the center of our lives. In the midst of adversity and affliction, fruit begins to appear because the Holy Spirit is strengthening us and the attributes of the Lord begin to manifest themselves in our thinking and in our actions. This process, like steel that has been tempered and made strong by the heat of a furnace, makes us useful to God. What baby is sent out to fight a battle? The baby must first grow in strength, in size, and in wisdom before he is able to fight. It is the same for those whom God wishes to use.
God may sometimes seem slow in coming to help us, but He never comes too late. Joseph would never have been used by God had he not been sold into slavery by brothers who hated him, and was later wrongly accused and put in prison. Joseph had to wait two more years for release from prison. This was God’s preparation for Joseph’s ultimate rise to power, second only to that of Pharaoh himself, a position he used to feed all of Israel during a famine.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. … And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. … Let us … walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–25).
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)