Summary: The fruit of the Spirit is produced because of what we are. It takes time to develop and requires careful cultivation.
Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-26
INTRO.: I was enjoying a bowl of cereal topped with peaches we froze last July and I realized one of the nicest things about living in the country is all the fresh fruit that’s available. We always eat a lot of fruit in the spring and summer then freeze some for winter.
You can be sure each kind of fruit has its own source. We got pears from pear trees, strawberries and dewberries from berry vines, and pecans will come from pecan trees. Each kind of tree or vine bears its own fruit.
There is also a kind of fruit borne by the Spirit of God as He works in our lives. The passage we have read tells of this fruit. The Apostle is contrasting the Christian life with the life lived in the flesh. If we live by our own wisdom and strength, we will bear the fruit of the flesh. This always tends toward lawlessness and evil.
Those who live by the Word of God produce fruit of the Spirit. There is no law against this and no one can criticize you for living according to the Spirit of God. Let’s look at some principles regarding fruit of the Spirit.
I. Fruit is something produced because of what we are:
A. Illustrated in nature:
1. ILLUS.: a seed catalog advertised "vine peaches." reading the fine print, I found they are small cantaloups. Peaches don’t grow on vines. The reason is simple: they are peaches.
2. We don’t tell a tree what kind of fruit to bear. It’s nature decides.
3. The Bible recognizes this and uses the principle to enforce lessons. Matt. 7:16-18 James 3:12
B. A tree can’t change its fruit unless there is a grafting:
1. We can’t bear fruit in the Spirit by our energy alone.
2. We only bring frustration on ourselves when we try and fail.
3. Gal. 5:22, 23 is not a series of commands or even exhortations. It is a list of promises
C. What is the source of fruit?
1. In the tree or vine, the energy within produces fruit.
2. It’s the natural result of sun, rain, and the nature of the plant.
3. The Christian has a special energy within enabling him to do what he can’t do on his own. It is the Spirit of God.
4. It comes as a gift of God’s grace.
II. Fruit takes time to develop:
A. ILLUS.: my first experience with persimmons, when fellow students talked me into tasting an immature one showed all fruit requires time to mature. It can’t be rushed.
1. To some, the Christian life may seem hard and joyless at first.
2. As maturity develops, the love and joy God wants us to experience become apparent. We must not give up too soon.
3. It is a mistake to expect "instant change" in our lives or others. It can happen, but seldom does.
4. It is also a mistake to think God is finished with you after a certain time. Your life may still bear fruit.
B. God can and will do a work in our lives if we allow it:
1. Even now, He is changing us. II Cor. 3:18
2. Changing someone into the image of Christ can’t be hurried, especially considering the raw material some of have to offer Him.
3. He can’t be satisfied with less than perfection.
C. Don’t get frustrated if your life doesn’t seem to be changing fast enough.
1. Everything happens in God’s time. James 5:7, 8
2. God can grow a squash in a few weeks. Oak trees take hundreds of years.
3. Time blends into eternity and the process of growth can be extended forever.
III. Fruit bearing requires patient cultivation:
A. The first requirement is an earnest desire to bear fruit for God.
1. God plants His seed everywhere, but only some are receptive. Matt. 13:1ff
2. Seek to minimize resistence to truth, shallow relationships, and anxiety about the things of the world to provide an environment for growth and production.
3. Fruit grows in the light, so we must live in the light. Eph. 5:9
B. II Peter 1:3-11 shows the blend of Divine and human effort required to bear fruit.
1. He has given "everything we need for life and godliness," and "great and precious promises."
2. He made us "partakers of the Divine nature."
3. Yet, He expects us to "make every effort" to add Godly attributes to our character.
4. We are promised we will never fail if we do these things. V. 10.
C. The practical conclusion: How can we bear fruit in the Holy Spirit?
1. Make a conscious decision and active effort to live "in the Spirit" and not "after the flesh."