Summary: The Fruit of the Spirit is the motivation behind our use of our God-given spiritual gifts.
This morning we are going to conclude our discussion of Spiritual Gifts by talking about how to turn control of our lives over to the Spirit. Thus far we’ve talked about the nature of spiritual gifts, that they are God given abilities that are to be used to build up the Church and help other people. We’ve pointed out from the Bible that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift, some have multiple gifts. And the truth of the matter that has to be continuously stressed is that these gifts are not for our benefit, but for others. You haven’t been given these abilities so that you can be a success or make a name for yourself or anything else. These abilities are given so that you can make a difference in the world for Christ.
We all want to do that, don’t we?
o Nobody gets picked to be on a team and then wants to sit on the bench.
o Nobody ever gives a gift to someone hoping it will never be opened.
o Nobody devotes years of service to a company and then plans that when they retire nobody will notice.
o Nobody anticipates that after they die their funeral will be unattended.
o Nobody hopes for a three line obituary.
We want to make a difference, leave the world a better place, make an impact on others so that they are able to say, “He changed my life.” “She made a difference.” “My life is better, my world is more complete, my faith is stronger, and my hope is more solid because that person was a part of my life.” (from "The Power of A Difference Maker" by John Ortberg [mppc.org, e-sermons])
Now I can see some of your juices start to flow. Some of the over achievers in our crowd are getting revved up, the adrenaline is starting to flow and you are already developing in your mind strategic plans about how to make your impact on the world. Now I’ve got nothing against strategic planning, but that’s not what I want to encourage you to do this morning. Since we’ve been talking about the Gifts that the Holy Spirit gives Christians to make an impact on the world, we are now going to talk about how to unleash those gifts in the way that God plans. It doesn’t involve you developing a strategic plan as much as it involves adopting God’s strategic plan for your life. It doesn’t involve you doing something as much as it involves you allowing God to do something inside you. It means you have to let go of control of your life so that God can take control.
Read Galatians 5:13-18 (Paul says there are two ways to live: guided by flesh “I do whatever I want to do,” or guided by Spirit, “I do whatever He wants me to do.” No middle ground. Now he contrasts what those two lifestyles look like. Notice how self-centered life in the flesh [other word for ‘sinful nature’] is, and how others-centered life in the spirit is.)
Read Galatians 5:19-25
Now, here’s the big point I want to get across this morning about our spiritual gifts. If the Holy Spirit is going to do the kind of work He wants to do through us, we have to allow Him to do some very important work inside us. He will never use us to do in the lives of others what we have refused to allow Him to do in us. Let me say it one more different way. Before we become useful to the Holy Spirit in changing other people’s lives, we have to allow Him to change our lives. Only when we bear the fruits of the spirit will we see the gifts of the spirit being used to their fullest potential. Now, lets talk about the relationship between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
1. God Gives Each Christian Specific Spiritual Gifts, But Expects All Christians To Bear All The Fruit of the Spirit.
Now this is an important thing to understand. If you were here a couple of weeks ago, you might remember that long list of Spiritual gifts that a person could have. There were gifts from administration to wisdom, shepherding to helps, teaching to hospitality. And the reality that I tried to get across is that no two people are alike in their giftedness. God uses us differently because He needs different tools to accomplish His work in the world. My dad was a toolmaker, and he hated it when my brother or I would get hold of his tools and use them wrong. (Don’t take a screwdriver and pry something open, hammer something with a wrench! Use the tool designed for the job!) In Romans 12:4-8 Paul wrote, “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (NLT) God designs us for different jobs that need to be done, so he gives us different gifts.