Summary: A look at the first 6 fruits of the Spirit that all Christians should display.
What a beautiful garden I have this year. I planted peppers, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, radishes, watermelon, cantaloupes, cucumbers, onions, okra, and green beans. It was exciting watching the seed plants push their way through the ground. And everyday watching the established plants grow and blossom. I began making preparations for cooking and canning my soon coming crop. I spent my morning hours weeding and watering, watching as more blooms developed.
The tomato plants were the first to bear fruit. Soon I was awash in cucumbers. The radishes came in next. It was a good crop. So good I planted a second crop. I had a few leaf lettuces come up, enough for one salad. So far I have two cantaloupes growing from more blooms than I could count. And one okra pod. But the rest was a disappointment.
The pepper plants along with the squash, watermelon, onions, and green beans are failures. The onion tops came up but the onions did not grow. The watermelon, squash, and green bean plants were covered with blossoms that never produced fruit. My tomato plants are taking their own good time in turning red. So as I was walking by my garden I began pondering how a Christian might be like my garden in the eyes of God.
Christians have a tendency to forget the effort that God put forth to insure our salvation. In fact, let’s think of our salvation as God’s garden. Think of the soil as the sacrifice that Jesus made for all people. It is in this rich sacrifice that the seed of the word of God is planted. The scripture is the means to which the fruits of being a Christian will become a harvest. And He fertilizes his garden with the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit the Christian begins to grow and become stronger with deep roots.
So God has prepared the soil, planted the seed, and released the power of the Holy Spirit. He watches in anticipation as the Christian begins to grow. Ever so slowly they stretch upwards from the soil, growing to a beautiful plant covered in blooms. The blooms are enticing in evidence of a great harvest in the Christians life. But in the midst of this entire greenery and blossoms one thing is missing. Fruit. There is plenty to look at but no produce to consume. As I did with my garden, day after day God looks for the fruit in the Christians life but is often disappointed.
Unlike my garden, where I planted 11 different plants, God plants one plant and looks for nine fruits to be harvested from that one. He expects all nine to be evident and growing. We find these fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Today we are going to discover these nine fruits and how they should be evident in a Christian’s life.
The first three fruits listed directs our attention toward God. Those three are love, joy, and peace.
The word love used here is agape. It is the love that God pours out upon his people. It was agape love that prompted God to send his son to die on the cross for our sins. And this same love resides in all Christians.
Romans 5:5 “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
What happens when you take a bottle of water and fill it with grape flavoring? The water takes on the taste of the grape flavoring. Our hearts, which represent our very being, have been filled with the agape love of God. We have taken on the very essence of who God is because the Bible says that God is love. And it is this special love that becomes the pathway to our relationship with him. We become his children and can call him our Father in the dearest of terms. Like a healthy plant, our roots grow deeper in that love and we become stronger. We discover a fullness of life and power. We can trust God. By this agape love we are assured that God lives in us. But, just like a plant, there must be some evidence of fruit from this agape love.
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
Live a life filled with love. What does that look like? First, you must develop a sincere love. Agape love cannot be superficial or insincere. It must be a deep love that is evident in the way we serve God and treat others. We make allowances for the faults and shortcomings of others. We forgive when offended. We allow agape love to unify as one and try our best to live in harmony with others. Everything we do is rooted in agape love. We cast off the bonds of the requirement to love and instead choose to serve one another in agape love. It is in this framework of agape love that we find the next fruit, joy.