Fruit of the Spirit
It was early October. The first frost had not yet come, but
the mornings were cool and the evenings were hot. It was that unique time of the
year when you shivered in the morning and sweated in the afternoon.
A 25 year-old man who grew up on a local farm got off work on Fridays at
noon. He decided he would take his .22 rifle and roam the hollows of the family
farm squirrel hunting. By 4 p.m. he had not seen one squirrel, so he headed for
his truck. The afternoon was hot as the sunshine beamed down, and he began to
way to the truck, he crossed an old watermelon patch. The good melons were taken
to market over a month before. All that was left were the culls that came from
the late blooms.
At the edge of the patch was a large white oak tree. On impulse, he decided
to lean his gun against the tree, gather 3 or 4 cull watermelons, and quench his
thirst by eating the hearts out of the small melons. And that is what he did.
As he sat
under the tree, he took his hunting knife, split the melons, and began to eat
the sweet center out of each melon. Just as he started eating, a white oak acorn
fell on his head. He looked up among the branches of the tree at its acorns, and
then he looked across the watermelon patch. He immediately had two thoughts. The
first thought: "I sure am glad watermelons do not grow up in trees." The second
thought: "God sure knew what He was doing when He put acorns in trees and
watermelons on vines."
I want to ask you a question: how often do you say to yourself, "God sure
knew what he was doing?"
Have you ever read the fruit of the Spirit and said to yourself, "God sure
knew what He was doing!"
Listen: Galatians 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit
is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control; against such things there is no law.
How often have you read these two verses and said, "God sure knew what He was
- I want you to note some things about the context.
- Paul made this statement in his letter to the Christians in Galatia
because they were not treating each other right!
- Some of these Christian were using their freedom in Christ to hurt
- These people caused problems in Christian-Christian relationships, and
then cried out, "I have the right to Christian freedom!" to escape the
responsibility or the consequences of their acts.
- Paul declared they had freedom, the freedom to love each other--in
Christ Jews could love gentiles and gentiles could love Jews.
- While they had the freedom to love each other, they did not have the
freedom to be selfish.
- So they were not to use their freedom in Christ as an excuse to do
ungodlike things to other people.
- Pay special attention to a significant contrast.
- It was the contrast between the values and acts of idol worshippers
and the values and acts of God worshippers.
- Paul classified the acts of idol worshippers as "deeds of the
- He classified the acts of God worshippers as "fruit of the Spirit."
- It is amazing to note how many of the "deeds of the flesh" focused on
- It is equally amazing to note that all of the expressions of the
"fruit of the Spirit" focus on the unselfishness of godly relationships.
- Paul made it quite clear to those Christians that the person who
converted to God through Christ by personal choice did not think or feel
like people who do not belong to God.
- People who belong to God through Christ want a lifestyle led by the
- The lifestyle of people who are led by God's Spirit are at war in
their lives with the desires that oppose God.
- The two do not mix!
- Each is dedicated to the death of the other!
- Both forces actively oppose each other in a person's life.
- The Christian by choice wants a life led by God's Spirit, not a life
controlled by physical desire and physical focus.
- The Christian who deceives himself into a conviction that he or she at
the same moment can adopt the lifestyle of a God led person and the
lifestyle of a person controlled by physical desire will likely make both
- He or she will either totally deceive himself or herself about being
a godly person and become a hypocrite as physical desires prevail and
justify their expressions.
- Or, he or she will live under the constant burden of guilt as he or
she violates his or her conscience.
- The person who wishes to be led by God in his or her lifestyle
deliberately kills the forces in his or her life that fight against a
- Even if it is painful, he or she kills anything in his or her
personal life that opposes God.
- Even if it is a slow death, he or she kills anything in his or her
personal life that opposes God.
- "Why would a person do that?" Because he or she wants to be led by
God, and he or she will not tolerate any influence in his or her self that
opposes God's control of life.
- It is precisely at this point that individual Christians or congregations
get themselves into difficulty with spiritual priorities.
- We decide what God wants without consulting God.
- "How do we do that?"
- We can do that in several ways.
- We can make scripture say and emphasize what we want scripture to
say and emphasize.
- We make God's word mean what we want God's word to mean.
- We decide what is important, and we use verses to justify our
- Or, we justify our actions, and we use verses to try to confuse
- Or, we are so ignorant of the Bible that we use the little Bible we
know out of context to make our choices okay.
- For example, we say, "You know God wants me to be happy," and use
that personal conviction to justify everything from adultery, to
addiction, to dishonesty.
- Or, we say, "Everyone knows there is nothing wrong with that."
- Or, we say, "God is not concerned with such matters."
- Or, we assume God's purposes and make our assumptions the foundation
of our behavior.
- For example, "What God really wants is for me to have that boat
(or house, or car, or whatever)--as if God's greatest purpose is
focused on my wealth.
- Or, "What God really wants is for me to be healthy--as if God's
greatest purpose is focused on my physical well being.
- It comes as quite a shock to realize that God's purposes are not defined
by my physical well being.
- God's purposes were not defined by Jesus' physical life--else Jesus
would not have died.
- God's purposes were not defined by Paul's physical life--else God
would have removed Paul's thorn in the flesh.
- God's purposes were not defined by Stephen's physical life--else he
would not have been a Christian martyr.
- What is important to God in a Christian lifestyle is the way we treat
other people--wives, husbands, children, workers, neighbors, business
- I ask you to note something in the fruit of the Spirit.
- Where are theological issues? Absent! They are important but they are
not number one, with God.
- Where is passing judgment? Absent! Recognizing evil correctly is
important, but it is not number one, with God.
- Where is division? Absent!
- Where is negative behavior and outlook? Absent!
- Where is criticism? Absent!
- Notice three things about the fruit of the Spirit.
- All expressions are positive.
- All expressions are unselfish.
- All expressions are relationship focused.
That leaves each of us with one question to ask self. "Is my lifestyle based
on selfish indulgence or on unselfish relationships?"
Asked in another way, "Is my life all about me, or am I allowing Jesus teach
me how to be a servant?"
God knows what He wants and is doing. Do I know what God wants and is doing?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 October 2005
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