Summary: We must put forth an effort towards becoming fruitful.
Living In Christ Part 2: Bearing Fruit
Text: Eph. 4:25-32
1. Illustration: There are no short cuts to maturity. It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christ-like character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time. When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavor. In America, tomatoes are usually picked un-ripened so they won’t bruise during shipping to the stores. Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly. Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002, 217).
2. One of the main objectives that Jesus has for His church is that we bear fruit.
a. John 15:16 (NLT)
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
b. Fruit bearing is the sign of a healthy tree or vine, and God desires us to be healthy.
c. "The fruit that comes from a person’s life-his actions-proves whether a person is yielding to the sinful nature or to the Holy Spirit" (Rossier, CBL: Ephesians, 145).
d. Just as growing tomatoes is a process, discipleship is also a process.
e. However, as with any process, there needs to be a starting point and a continual moving forward.
3. Paul gives us some practical ways that we can move forward in the fruit bearing process. His commands are practical because he not only tells what we shouldn’t do, but he gives us an alternative to replace it.
a. Be Honest
b. Be In Control
c. Be Generous
d. Be Encouraging
e. Be Kind
4. Read Ephesians 4:25-32
Proposition: We must put forth an effort towards becoming fruitful.
Transition: First, Paul tells us to...
I. Be Honest (25)
A. Stop Telling Lies
1. In my opinion, it is no coincidence that Paul begins by telling us to be honest.
a. Considering that fact that it is an election year, and we all want and expect to hear the truth, indicates that people today still have a problem with lying.
b. Illustration: A USA Today poll found that only 56% of American teach honesty to their children. And a Louis Harris poll turned up the distressing fact that 65% of high school students would cheat on an important exam. Recently a noted physician appeared on a network news-and-talk show and proclaimed, "Lying is an important part of social life, and children who are unable to do it are children who may have developmental problems." (Daily Bread, September 1991)
2. In verse 25, Paul says "So stop telling lies."
a. The first thing that we notice, is that lying was a problem in Paul’s day.
b. The second thing that we notice, is that lying was also a problem in the Church because that’s was to whom Paul was writing.
c. The last time I checked, if you have to tell someone to stop doing something, they have to still be doing it.
d. Zechariah 8:16 (NLT)
But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace.
e. Just because a person comes to believe in Jesus as savior doesn’t mean they all of the sudden become perfect.
f. Like I’ve already told you, you can’t catch a cleaned fish!
3. Instead, Paul tells us "Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body."
a. Paul indicates that we have a mutual responsibility to one another. Yes, you are your brothers keeper!
b. Because we are members of one body, we must not do anything to the body that is destructive.
c. Lying to one another distrupts unity, creates conflict, and destroys trust.
d. Truthfulness, however, opens the door to understanding. To maintain unity, the believers must be completely truthful with one another (Life Application New Testament Commentary).
e. So we are to stop lying and start being honest.
1. Illustration: Honesty does not come from out of nowhere. It is a product of your moral convictions. But what do you do when your convictions are challenged? It is faith that gives you the strength to go on believing...Live your faith. Don’t wear it on your sleeve; roll up both sleeves and do something about it. --(Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s)
2. We must be honest with God.
a. If you sin, confess it. God already know you did it anyway.