Summary: Every life bears spiritual fruit. The question is, which kind?
In the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific during WWII, the natives watched closely as the American and British engineers came in and built airstrips. The islanders were amazed to see that when the airstrips were completed, planes began to arrive filled with cargo: food, building materials, machinery, even vehicles. This, they decided, was something they wanted in on.
The Melanesians deduced, that if they built airstrips, then planes would come to them, too, likewise bringing cargo. They accordingly hacked makeshift runways out of the jungle and built mock-up control towers out of grass and mud. They put fires along the sides of the runways, and put a man in the grass-hut control tower, with two coconut halves on his head for headphones--he’s the controller--they rigged antenaes out of bamboo and then they waited for the airplanes to land. As far as they could see they were doing everything right. The form was perfect. It looked exactly the way it was supposed to. But it didn’t work. No airplanes ever came. (John Derbyshire, National Review Online, June 14, 2002 "It’s All America’s Fault: The cargo-cult mentality."and Richard Feynman From a Caltech commencement address given in 1974 Also in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!)
In the world that you and I live in today cargo cults of a similar type are commonplace. The cargo people are looking for is not food and machinery but love, joy, peace, patience and all the other things that our text this morning describes as the "fruit of the spirit." Rather than building runways for the cargo planes to land on, those who seek this precious cargo seek to order their lives in a way that looks religious. "Surely", the thinking goes, "if my life looks spiritual, then God’s blessing will follow." What they are missing, like the Melanesian islanders, is the fact that cargo comes not because of runways and control towers but because of a relationship with the one who sends the cargo.
Love, joy and peace and all the others are not the result of adherence to a set of Christian standards, rather they grow out of a relationship with God born of faith in Jesus Christ.
That’s not to say that no cargo comes to the runways of those who have not genuinely experienced God’s grace.
Proposition: Spiritually speaking, every life bears fruit, the kind of fruit, or I could say the kind of cargo, depends upon where the life is rooted.
Transition: As we think about the kind of fruit that human lives produce I’d like to break it into three components, first we’ll consider the exclusive nature of spiritual fruit and then we’ll look at the two main varieties of Spiritual Fruit. The first point that Paul makes is that...
1. You’ve Got to Pick Your Fruit
vv. 16-17 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Illustration: When my family moved into the parsonage in Burwell, Nebraska there was a lovely apple tree in the back yard. It bloomed beautifully in the spring, but there was a problem with this tree, not really with the tree itself, there was a problem with where it was planted. You see the neighbors had a red cedar tree and when apple trees and cedar trees are planted near one another they are subject to a disease cycle known as cedar apple rust. So every year the fruit of this apple tree was infected with brown rot, and the cedar tree was infected with slimy orange cankers. The funny thing about cedar apple rust is that neither tree can remain infected year after year without the other, the apple has to be infected by the cedar and the cedar has to be infected by the apple. The point is you can’t have both. If you want apples don’t plant red cedar and if you want red cedar don’t plant apples.
Paul makes ther same point here about spiritual fruit. The life lived by the Spirit, doesn’t cooperate with the desires of the sinful nature. They can’t peacefuly coexist. When a person puts their faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their life and when the Holy Spirit lives in you, He convicts of sin and you can’t be satisfied in that way of life anymore.
On the other hand when you haven’t put your trust in Christ, when you’re trying to earn God’s favor on your own, it’s hard to maintain the outward facade of Christianity, To go back to the cargo cult analogy, it’s hard to keep the runways cleared of overgrowth and to maintain control tower personel when the cargo of the fruit of the Spirit hasn’t arrived, because the flesh doesn’t really desire to do what’s right. The flesh desires and ultimately will lead a different kind of life. Whch brings us to the first kind of Spiritual Fruit...