Summary: We are all called to continually "Cultivate" the Fruit of the Spirit. Here we focus on Love.
Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit
A few months ago, we as a church went through a series titled “Doing Church as a Team”. Towards the end of the series, we took a small “side step” and spoke about making sure that we were developing the Fruit of the Spirit in our own lives first before we moved ahead in any form of ministry.
Well something stuck with me there, and the more I prayed and sought out what we as a congregation were going to study together I kept coming back to the Fruit of the Spirit. So I thought, what better way to start a new year than with these very paramount qualities that we must take the time to cultivate.
1. to work land or prepare soil for growing crops
2. to grow a plant or crop
3. to break up soil with a tool or machine, especially before sowing or planting
4. to improve or develop something, usually by study or education
5. to develop an acquaintance or intimacy with somebody, often for personal advantage
6. to civilize or educate a person or group
Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
These are some very interesting definitions when you in turn take the Fruit of the Spirit and insert them into these definitions in regards to our own lives.
Galatians 5:16-25 NASB
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So Paul has basically given the Galatians a laundry list of sorts. These are the “desires of the flesh”, and as you are about to see, a stark contrast to the Fruit of the Spirit.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Can you see the picture that Paul is painting here? It’s awesome! He’s saying, when you gave your life to Jesus, all the desires of the flesh that we carry were put to death when Jesus was crucified!
So now, we have been given the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ place here on earth. And if we are truly walking by the spirit, these are the fruit that our lives will bear.
Jesus echoes this in:
Luke 6:43-45 (NLT)
43 “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 44 A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. 45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Every time I read Galatians 5:22 and 23 it is a reminder that I need to develop every one of these Fruit more. Not just one or two, and the rest I already have covered; but ALL of them.
Yes, some do come more natural than others, but this is not a Fruit basket that I can pick and choose from. All (absolute) Fruit of the Spirit are equally important, and All must be developed in me constantly. Verse 25 (NLT) sticks out:
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
So right there Paul is saying that if we are truly living by the Holy Spirit, we will allow its leading in ALL (there’s that absolute again!) parts of our lives. I cannot just focus on just some parts or fruit, because then I will become unbalanced, and as it reads earlier in this chapter, that stems from my own selfish ambitions.
If we look ahead to Chapter 6, it says that “we will reap what we sow.” It would be wise of us to remember that not only in terms of the sin in our lives, but the cultivation of the Fruit of the Spirit also!