This week has been one of those weeks where the fruit of the Spirit that Jesus has grown in me has been severely tested. If I was trying to be fruity, I would have gone off my rocker.
It is good that fruit is not something we work at or produce but instead is something that is a byproduct of what Jesus is doing on the inside of us.
So both as a refresher lesson for myself and to share with all of you that are also interested in the fruit of the Spirit, I decided to do this sermon on the fruit of the Spirit that is talked about in Galatians 5.
I hope that through this fruit of the Spirit bible study we both will gain some pointers on how to allow God to bear fruit in our lives and for us to reap the harvest of that fruit.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Now the first thing I want to point out is that even though Paul lists 9 character traits that show the fruit of the Spirit, he also states that the fruit is singular not plural.
He did not say the "fruits" of the Spirit. This would indicate that there is only one fruit of the Spirit but that it is shown by a multitude of character traits.
Paul also states in Ephesians that the fruit of the Spirit is part of learning how to walk in the light with the Lord.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
So the fruit of the Spirit is something that happens as we walk in the light of the Lord learning what it is that He wants us to do.
In order to understand the process of bearing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives we need to look at this from an agrarian point of view. We need to think like the owner of an orchard.
Trees bear fruit because certain things happen in their lives. These same things have spiritual equivalents.
Let's take a look at a few of those events that happen in the life of a fruit bearing tree.
The first thing that happens in the life of a fruit tree is that its seed is planted in the ground.
Jesus made an illustration concerning this when talking about our fruitfulness. He used the example of a grain of wheat.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
The first thing that has to happen if we are to have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is that we have to die to self. We have to come to the place where it is no longer us and our will that is controlling our lives but we have to come to the point of considering ourselves dead and letting Jesus live through us.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Until we die to self, we cannot have the seed that has been planted in us germinate and come to life.
I think all of us would feel pretty foolish if we went out and planted an apple seed and 3 weeks later expected apples. There is a season of growth before apples naturally appear.
It is the same with the Christian life. The fruit of the Spirit does not happen without a season of growth. Now it may not take years like the apple tree, but it does take a season where God builds up on the inside of you a tree to bear fruit.
Jesus put it this way in the gospel of Mark.
And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27 "and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28 "For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29 "But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
Notice that Jesus said the man did not know how the process happens that causes the earth to yield the crop. It is a natural process that we know happens but how something can die and then become alive is beyond our understanding.
This is where faith comes in. You have to have faith that God will bring forth the fruit in your life. Be content that since you are surrendered and allowing Him to live instead of yourself, the fruit will come.
Fruit trees bear fruit when they are of age to do so. Wheat bears its grain when it is harvest time. The same with corn, peas, and even people.
Even in our natural bodies, people are not able to bear fruit until they reach a certain age. The same is true with spiritual fruit.
The list of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul gave us in the book of Galatians is a list of things we can watch for to tell if we are bearing spiritual fruit.
James talks of becoming mature in the first chapter of his book.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
The word perfect used in verse 4 is actually better translated mature. Trials and tests bring on maturity. In fact, I have found that the more trials and testing you go through the faster you become mature.
It is through those trials and tests that you go through that your fruit has a chance to ripen. Until then there is no real need for the fruit. Let me ask you some questions.
You get my point. So, the fruit of the Spirit is something that naturally comes out of us as we mature and go through trials.
So there is only one question that remains.
Are we willing to allow God to prune and shape us to be more fruitful?
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Are we willing to allow God to prune us? The way that happens is by abiding in Jesus. Living in constant fellowship and relationship with Him.
So we have to ask ourselves the question. Am I really abiding in Jesus or am I acting like I am abiding in Jesus? What is the true state of my spiritual walk with Him?
For me and this last week, it has been both a comfort and a challenge to revisit this Bible study on the fruit of the Spirit.
Yes there were some areas I was letting slide. He reminded me of them. However there was also the abiding comfort of seeing the peace, the patience, and the faithfulness coming out when it would have been much easier to just knock the dust off my shoes and walk away.
How about you? Are you ready to reap a greater harvest of the fruit of the Spirit?
Pastor Duke Taber is the Senior Pastor at The Vineyard Church in San Carlos Ca. He is an alumnus from Life Pacific College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.
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