A poster in my high school locker room said something like this: “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” As I’ve experienced challenges in my own life, I’ve thought a lot about this old poster, and I really believe the concept has Biblical roots.
Jesus desperately wants our hearts, not just our actions—He spoke this in the Gospels and demonstrated it in His ministry. Some of His harshest words were for the Pharisees and religious leaders: people who looked great on the outside but were far from the God in their hearts. When push came to shove, selfishness flowed out of them. Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea multiple times in Matthew, emphasizing that God has always desired compassion over sacrifice. In other words, don’t just do it (sorry, Nike). Just BE it.
Parenting has exposed a bit of my inner Pharisee. When it comes to my kids, I am tempted to seek fast results without the heart change. I often want to skip the tedious, messy, difficult, and time-consuming step of shepherding their hearts and instead use guilt and anger to achieve behavioral results. Hardly Spirit-driven parenting. I want the fruit of the Spirit in my children without sowing the seeds that actually grow the fruit!
Interestingly, the word “fruit” from The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is singular, not plural. Paul isn’t giving a list of “just do it” items but is actually highlighting a singular outcome of a life lived in the Spirit. I know many people who are joyful or peaceful naturally, but the idea here is when the pressure is on, this is who you are: not one or two of the fruits but ALL of them. That’s Christ working in us.
I don’t know about you, but I often cringe at what I must have looked like at times as a teenager. And I am very thankful for the adults and peers who encouraged me to follow Christ. The folks who didn’t look at me for just what I was, but who I was in Christ. Seeing others live out the call of Scripture made Jesus beautiful to me and ultimately changed my heart. The Gospel transforms us from the inside out!
Our desire here at New Life Academy is that our students would follow Christ and Be. We love seeing Jesus work in the lives of our students and graduates! As a community of parents, faculty, and staff, we strive to model Him, living out His Word daily—so when things get tough, trials come, and the “chips are down,” our students don’t just do the right things, they are the right people.
Want to learn more about the fruit of a Christ-centered education? Check out our Portrait of a Graduate and see what God has done and is up to in the lives of former NLA students.
Written by Cade Lambert, New Life Academy Head of School, 2015