Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Spiritual Fruit

This week at Northwood Community Bible Church, we are hosting a Vacation Bible School for children ages 5-12.  Our theme this year is “The Fruit of the Spirit” and it comes from the New Testament book of Galatians.  In chapter 5 the Bible contrasts the life-fruit of the sinful nature of mankind with the fruit of the Spirit of God as seen in the life of one who has been forgiven and given new life in Christ.  What becomes immediately visible is God’s answer to all of the destructive effects of sin in our world.  

You may already be familiar with the list of virtues found in Galatians 5:22,  “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” and it is a good guess that you may see a list like that and think to yourself, “I should try to be more like that…”.  Please notice the very first phrase says that these are the fruit of the Spirit.  These are the qualities and virtues that follow a life that is made alive by the Spirit of the Living God.  Let’s look at these fruit and have a feast for our souls:

Love: Love is the Greek word agape'.  Agape’ is a unique form of love in that it begins at God, who is eternal and holy, and as such His love is also pure, never-ending.  All other forms of love are essentially horizontal in nature in that they are expressed between one person or group and another.  They are also temporary and conditional in nature, but is vertical in nature.  God pours His love into our hearts until it overflows us, cleanses us, and splashes out from us onto the lives of others around us.  This is what makes it possible for us to obey Jesus when He tells us to love even our enemies.  (1 Corinthians 13)

Joy:  Joy is more than an attitude, it is a state of being for one who knows that God is in control and his or her sins have been forgiven.  Joy is a mindset that God has our best and His glory in mind as He leads us through daily life.  Even in the most difficult times, joy can be in our hearts and lead us to peace. (Psalm 132:9)

Peace:  There is a peace of mind and heart that God gives as He fills our hearts with His love and joy.  It is a peace that is hard to understand or explain, but it carries us through times of anxiety, confusion, pain and loss. (John 14:27)

Patience:  If there is one thing to be careful about praying for, it’s patience!  Patience is in one sense the ability to keep things in perspective, and give emphasis to those things that actually matter in life.  It is the act of filtering which issues will rule your thinking and behavior.  (2 Peter 3:9)

Kindness:  We love kindness when it is shown to us.  To some people it comes naturally to reach out to others with a loving and kind heart to encourage, strengthen, and help make another’s day bright.  God’s Spirit moves in us to teach us how we might be a blessing to others.  (Matt. 5:16)

Goodness:  Doing good for others is a beautiful and necessary thing.  It brings a sweetness to daily life when we either act out of the goodness of God’s heart or we receive such an action from another whom God sends to lift our load and bless us with His love.  It should be noted that good works save us from our sins, but God, who saves us, also leads us into good works which He has planned in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Faithfulness:  Faithfulness is the willingness to trust and obey God no matter what.  (Psalm 36:5)

Gentleness:  Gentleness is the ability to speak and act truthfully without doing so harshly.  Gentleness is seen the the love of a mother for her baby, in the warm hug of a father, and in the gracious way that God speaks to our hearts, calling us to follow Him.  (Colossians 3:12-13)

Self-control:  without self-control love becomes permissiveness, joy becomes complacency, peace becomes apathy, faithfulness becomes blind adherence.  Even self-control becomes legalism without grace.  (2 Timothy 1:7-8)

This multi-faceted fruit grows in the life of one who is filled with God’s Spirit and responds in willing obedience to be made more like Jesus every day.  May you have a life that is blessed with an increasing harvest of the fruit of the Holy Spirit!

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