Last week we considered how the Holy Spirit places us in Christ and allows us to stand against the challenges of the world. The Spirit changes our hearts from stone to flesh, teaches us truth and fills us with God’s peace, but that is not all the Spirit does. The Spirit also grows in us His fruit. Now we have a test, who can name some of what the Spirit gives – there are nine of them. …
Galatians 5 gives us the list: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Now, these fruit are all great. We all want some of these! But what are they for? Our own benefit? Others benefit? What?
Jesus says we are to be fruitful. In our reading Jesus said that if we are close to God, then He lives in us and we live in Him. God IN YOU. God in ME. In your heart, God lives – by the Spirit.
So what does Spirit do when He lives in you? Does He sit around and relax? No … if The Spirit is in you, He works in you and changes you. And as He changes you, your character changes and you grow into a new you – a fuller you / truer you / more Christ like you – BECAUSE the Spirit is in you.
Jesus describes this change as being fruitful – having fruit. He said: “To my Father’s glory … you will bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
SHOWING YOURSELVES – This fruit is something people will see and recognise as something from God. They will look at you and think: “You are different to me. You have something I do not have.” Fruit SHOWS you are a disciple of Christ, and the list we just saw is what we are to have, but one point.
- Who is good at maths?
- How many fruit are there in this passage? (Gal 5) There are not nine, but ONE! In the Greek, it is ONE Fruit with NINE aspects.
Therefore, when we have the singular fruit of the Spirit, we will show all NINE characteristics. So you can’t say: “Well I have eight out of nine, but this generosity gift … not my thing!”
Nine or none. You either grow in all nine aspects or in none. I suspect that is a bit daunting for us. It is change of who you are, but it is only the outcome of having your heart changed in the first place. You can’t have a new heart and not show that in your life! This is why Paul is comfortable with telling us to: “Live by the Spirit” – LIVE OUT THE NEW YOU!
My last point – It is very hard to live this out in isolation from other people. The Spirit’s fruit assumes human interaction. Just think if you only applied these to yourself! Odd!
- Love needs somebody to be loved. Loving yourself is narcissism.
- Kindness – you need someone to be kind to.
- Goodness – only makes sense if you are good to somebody else. If you are only good to yourself, that is weird.
- Patience – who has children here? School holidays? Patience, self-control, gentleness – all get tested, eh?
Fruit only make sense when you live with other people around you. And with others around you, you will show who are. You cannot hide who you are. God gives you this fruit to shape your character and bless those around you. Fruit are not for you to selfishly horde and keep to yourself. Fruit is to be seen and shared. The Fruit of The Spirit is a missional gift God gives to us. And this got me thinking …
Where do you get fruit from? Trees and bushes mainly. Now, here’s the point:
- Fruit are no use if they stay on the tree, where nobody can reach them … except the birds, worms and wasps when they start to go mouldy.
- Similarly, fruit are no use if they fall to the ground, and then get infested with ants and bugs.
Fruit are no use to anyone if they are not eaten, but just rot. Fruit are to be shared and consumed!
So, as we come into Christmas and a New Year, let us ask God we would grow the Fruit of The Spirit in us, so we can go and share that blessing with the world.