We had an interesting discussion in our small group this evening. In talking about the Fruits of the Spirit, the question arose as to what portion of developing these attributes was the Spirit's work and what amount was a conscious effort on our part. Certainly, arguments can be made for both sides - the Bible clearly teaches that the Spirit is at work in our lives; yet on the other hand, our efforts can certainly either help or hinder the growth of that fruit.
So what is the answer to that question? Where does the line fall between the Holy Spirit's work and my own efforts?
To me, this represents another angle of the age-old question that arose between Calvin and Arminius concerning salvation and free will. I'm not going to take sides here, because to me the point is moot.
Why should I be concerned with whether my responsibility is 1%, 50% or 90%? The fact of the matter is that I have some God-given responsibility - so my primary concern should be in carrying out that responsibility to the best of my abilities. God, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to allow me a role in the work of His Kingdom - my job is simply to be a willing participant in that work. The more attuned I am to the Holy Spirit, the more I'm able to recognize opportunities to advance the Kingdom as they come my way. Likewise, if I'm out of tune I not only fail to recognize those opportunities presented to me but I may in fact do damage by insisting on handling things MY way - not God's way. But even then all is not lost, for God is still able to take even my mistakes and use them for good.
I can't say how much a relief it is to know that my personal spiritual development does not depend solely on my own efforts. At the same time, it gives me great encouragement to know that God has invested me with a key role to play in events of eternal significance.