Summary: This was the introduction to a series on the Fruit of the Spirit, and included Love.
Has anyone here ever grown fruit trees? What type? I am not a farmer or a gardener, but in 1990 we moved into a rented house that we were told had five different types of fruit trees in the back yard. When I heard that I thought, “wow that’ll be so cool.” The day we arrived one of the first things I did was to go out back and look for my five different fruit trees. There were a number of trees bordering our property but I could only identify one as being a fruit tree, primarily because only one tree had fruit on it. And that was a mandarin orange tree, great big beautiful mandarin oranges. But no other fruit trees. I was a little disappointed and during the first week a family from out church was over and I mentioned that we had been told that there were five different types of fruit trees in my back-yard but I only spotted one. They looked at me kind of funny and then told me that it was July and not all trees had fruit on them in the middle of the winter. By the way it was in Australia.
Within a few months I had it down pat; I could tell the difference between a banana tree and a mango tree, a mulberry tree and a lemon tree not to mention the ever present Mandarin orange tree. Not because I had become an expert on horticulture but because there was fruit on the trees and bananas don’t look anything like mangos.
Throughout the New Testament fruit trees are used as analogies for a productive Christian life, might we even say a fruitful Christian life. And we read how good trees will bear good fruit and how bad trees will bear bad fruit. And we are told that trees that bear bad fruit or no fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire, presumably a reference to hell. I have found in my Christian walk that if I have the unfortunate job of confronting someone over a moral failing they will tell me that the scriptures tell us not to judge, referring of course to the words of Christ in Matthew 7:1 “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Which of course is simply a warning telling us that if we judge others then we open ourselves up to being judged by others.
However we are urged time and time again to look at the fruit that a believer is producing to determine the state of their spiritual tree. Good fruit, good tree, bad fruit, bad tree. And then to make our job easier Paul includes a list of good fruit, which is a part of the scripture that Mike read earlier in the service.
The book of Galatians was a letter that Paul wrote to the early churches in the Roman Province of Galatia, which if we were to pull up a map we would see that it is right here in modern day Turkey. In Galatians Chapter 5 Paul contrasts our life when we follow our desires to our life when we allow the Holy Spirit to have control. He starts by telling us that the acts of the sinful nature are obvious. And then he lists a whole bunch of obviously sinful behaviour. Not a exhaustive list by any means and then he writes these words Galatians 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.
If you were to look our website you’d be able to read our mission statement and it’s something I mention periodically in my messages. Way back before there was a Cornerstone Wesleyan Church or even a Bedford Community Church I was encouraged to put down on paper what was in my heart. To describe the church that I envisioned God would have us plant here in Bedford. And so in September of 1994 these were the words that I prayerfully came up with to describe the church that at that point only existed in my heart: Cornerstone Wesleyan Church exists to reach pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding them into a practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit.
How were we going to measure that practical holiness? It would be measured by the evidence of the fruit of the spirit, which is very Biblical because Paul did write: But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us:
This isn’t a maybe, or a perhaps, Paul doesn’t say But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he may produce this kind of fruit in us: But instead the Bible says when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: And then Paul goes on to describe the fruit that the Holy Spirit will produce in our lives. This is what we call “The Fruit of the Spirit.” They are nine characteristics that need to be exhibited in the life of the Spirit Controlled Christian. Those nine characteristics are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.