Summary: Sermon series on Fruit of the Spirit. (Sermon Series idea from John Maxwell)
What’s your favorite fruit? Strawberries? Mangos? Peaches? I think I’ve shared with you before that my favorite fruit is the Asian pear which the Japanese call nashi. They are available in stores here but they never taste very good. That’s because nashi don’t grow in this part of the world. They’re imported from Asia so they have to be picked before they’re fully ripe to survive the long journey across the ocean. The result is a bland, not-very-juicy fruit. But if you’re ever visiting Japan in the late summer, you’ll become addicted to this crisp, sweet and juicy fruit. Nothing tastes so refreshing as a chilled nashi on a hot humid day.
Nashi of course isn’t the only fruit that tastes best when it’s in season—every fruit is like that. Peaches, for example, are best in late summer when they’re being harvested in B.C., not when they show up on store shelves in April having been imported from elsewhere. There is, however, one fruit that is always in season. It’s not a fruit that you eat but is one that everyone ought to enjoy—the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. For the next couple of months we’ll be taking a close look at each one of these Spirit-fruit characteristics because God has sent his Holy Spirit to produce them in abundance in each one of us no matter what the season. Our focus today will be on love.
Before we delve into what love is I want to help you understand the background of our sermon text. Paul wrote to Christians in Galatia, present-day central Turkey because false teachers were saying that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough for salvation. These false teachers insisted that you needed to believe in Jesus and keep God’s commands for entrance into heaven. Paul however maintained that we are saved solely by what God has done for us through Jesus. We are free from the demands of the law. This doesn’t mean that we are free to ignore God’s commands. Paul anticipated that conclusion when he wrote: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
Perhaps I can illustrate Paul’s point like this. I don’t know of any underage children in our society who are required by their parents to pay rent for their bedroom. Nor are they charged for the meals they eat at home. Parents provide these things at no cost to their children. They do so out of love. The children are free from the burden of these expenses. But does that mean that these children are free to disrespect their parents, free to trash their bedrooms, or free to dump their full dinner plates on the floor for the fun of it? Of course not! That wouldn’t show appreciation for the love the parents have shown their children by providing for them. Likewise although we’re no longer on the hook for having to keep all of God’s commands to get into heaven, we will want to keep these commands because it shows thanks to God for the salvation he has given to us.