Summary: We often talk of the qualities or qualifications of elders from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. However, there is a more basic qualification -- the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.16-25). The presence of the Spirit of God is crucial to the life of God's leader.
1. God Showing Through
A little girl on the way home from church, turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the Preacher's sermon this morning confused me." The mother said, "Oh! Why is that?"
The girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?"
"Yes, that's true," the mother replied.
"He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?" Again the mother replied, "Yes."
"Well," said the girl. "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"
2. That is really the essence of the idea of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.16-25
a. Contrast works of flesh and Fruit of Spirit
b. Vivid declaration of whether or not God is living in a person
3. Today we will begin a short series of lessons on Elders in the hope that we will be able to add some Shepherds to our leadership team.
a. In the series we will speak of the role of Shepherds as in Acts 20
c. However, a more basic set of qualities is found in what we refer to as the "Fruit of the Spirit."
4. A Fundamental Qualification/Quality for a Shepherd is to be a Man of the Spirit
a. This does not mean he is so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good.
b. It does mean he is in touch with God and man
I. Fruit of the Spirit is the Expectation of Shepherds -- Galatians 5.22-25
A. God's Leaders have been Shepherds of his people
1. Some have been Good shepherds -- David; Hezekiah; Jesus
2. Some have been bad -- Ezekiel 34
B. There is a Serious Contrast with the Works of the Flesh -- Galatians 5.19-21
1. Not an occasional stumble -- there are no perfect people
2. It is a lifestyle issue
3. It involves victory over the evil inclination -- 5.24
C. There is Significance in Fruit Inspection
It's All in the Fruit
John Chapman, better known as "Johnny Appleseed," is remembered for planting thousands of apple trees in Pennsylvania and states farther west during the early nineteenth century. But planting apple seeds is like buying a lottery ticket; apple trees do not bear fruit identical to the seed that was planted. In Chapman's day, when a tree was found that bore a desirable apple, branches from that tree would be grafted to rootstock to continue getting the desired fruit. In other words, a tree was deemed to be good only if its fruit was good.
On more than one occasion, Jesus said the same thing: Bad trees produce bad fruit, and vice versa. That is, "a tree is recognized by its fruit" (Matthew 12:33-35: 33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.).
2. Not Condemnation -- Matthew 7.1
3. Fruit reveals the connection --
a. It's Seen in the Fruit
In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick. Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, the vine produces several tons of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them.