If this week’s blog were an advertisement listed at the bottom of a webpage, it might be entitled “9 tips to make you the best Faith Driven Consumer you can be” or “9 lifehacks your financial planner won’t tell you about.” We’ll spare you the cheesy teasers, however, and go ahead and spoil the message for you right up front: the key to being a Faith Driven Consumer (FDC) is being someone who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit when engaging in the marketplace. Let’s take a quick look at Galatians 5 and an application for us as Faith Driven Consumers (FDCs). But if you still prefer the dramatic caption, then this blog is 9 Tips for Becoming the Best Faith Driven Consumer You Can Be!
The context of Galatians 5 is about walking in step with the Spirit. As Christians, if we have put our trust in Jesus Christ, the Bible says we have been given the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells our soul and convicts us of sin, illuminates Scripture, leads us in our actions, and empowers us to holiness. In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul is encouraging the church in Galatia to not walk in the flesh (don’t satisfy the sinful desires of our own fallen will or of the world we live in), but instead walk by the Spirit. He tells the Galatians that being a follower of Christ means rejecting behaviors that are destructive like: idolatry, envy, division, etc. So what does it look like to walk in the Spirit? How do we reject these sinful and destructive attitudes and actions? And moreover, what does this have to do with being a Faith Driven Consumer?
We find the answer in Galatians. Paul, providing for us the metaphor of individuals and their actions being much like trees that bear certain fruit, says that the fruit of the Spirit is very different than the fruit of the flesh listed above (destructive behaviors). Those that are empowered and led by the Holy Spirit produce attitudes and actions that reflect the image of Christ and the very character of God. And in case you’ve never known them or forgotten them… “The fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” (Galatians 5:22).
Now before we do a little bit of application for us as Faith Driven Consumers, we should point out something that is often overlooked or misunderstood. Galatians 5:22 says the fruit (singular) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. This means that there aren’t a bunch (no pun intended) of different fruits of the Spirit. Instead, there is one “fruit” that is exhibited by someone walking in step with the Spirit, empowered by Him to walk in holiness. Most people, Christians and the irreligious, alike, are good at some of these and not so good at others. There are plenty of people who are patient or gentle, and plenty that have self-control. But without the Spirit, we fall hopelessly short of exemplifying all of these virtues in tandem with one another and to the right degree and extent. Much like our salvation, it has to be accomplished by something greater than our own efforts and our own will. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t really nine different things we’re supposed to do. It’s actually nine different ways we recognize one specific difference – the Spirit’s presence in the whole of one’s life and lifestyle. This kind of holiness could only ever be a result of the Holy Spirit leading and empowering the followers of Christ to be all they are called to be.
The implications for FDCs then become clear since the defining mark of a Faith Driven Consumer is the gospel’s influence on their life. All of the questions about how to act as an FDC, and how to engage in the marketplace, are all directly informed by the Scriptures’ call to bear the fruit of the Spirit. This means that we do everything, including taking stands that some people might dislike us for, in love. We don’t become bitter or sour over the direction of our culture. Instead we exhibit joy because our hope is in Jesus, not earthly things. This means we also have a peace that passes all understanding, even in the face of these difficult and uncertain times. We are patient, knowing that we aren’t going to change the marketplace, culture or the world overnight. We are kind to others, and not just the ones who agree with us or to the employees at faith compatible businesses, but also to the ones that aren’t. And we never compromise our values or ethics. We demonstrate the goodness of our faith and of our God whenever we go out into the world, and we remain faithful to the gospel and its truth in the face of cultural pressure to abandon or soften it. But we are gentle when we proclaim this truth, being careful to make sure our speech is “gracious and seasoned with salt” as Colossians 4:6 tells us. And finally, we exhibit self-control as Faith Driven Consumers, realizing that we are Faith Driven, first, and we are consumers, second.
How well are we living out the faith that is supposedly driving our behavior as FDCs? I hope you will be encouraged and challenged by this passage in Galatians 5 and strive to implement it in your life as a follower of Christ, and indeed, a Faith Driven Consumer.