Summary: This sermon examines the first three fruits of the Spirit.
THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE PART I
We might imagine buying a tree. It has no leaves on it or any fruit because it is only a seedling ready to plant. Unless there was a tag attached to it, we would not know what kind of tree it was. Suppose we bought it anyway and took it home and planted it. Soon it would begin putting on leaves. It is possible that we might know by looking at the leaves what kind of tree it was, but it is also possible that we would not. After it grew year after year, it began to blossom and put on fruit. Then it became very evident that it was an apple tree. We would know because we know what an apple looks like. In order for this tree to grow and produce, we would have to plant it and nurture it. It needs the nutrients and water that comes from the soil.
As children of God, we too are like trees planted and rooted in the love of God. When we accept Christ as our Savior, ask his forgiveness and repent of our sins, the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in our lives. We are then rooted and planted in the love of God. It is from this relationship that we receive the nutrients needed to survive as a Christian. Like the tree, people might not know who or what we are by just looking at us. They might see us as ordinary people. How is it that people realize we are children of God? It is by the fruit we produce in our lives. This fruit is the result of the Holy Spirit's presence and working in our life. Paul tells us in this passage what that fruit is. If our lives are not producing this fruit, then there is something wrong. Either we are not God's children or we are not in a right relationship with him.
More and more we discover that fruit is important for our physical well-being. We have heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A well-balanced diet should include fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is also important and even vital to the child of God. The Spirit-filled life will be one that produces fruit for the honor and glory of God.
I. WE MUST PRODUCE LOVE
Love is the supreme virtue of the Christian life. In speaking of it, the apostle Paul says, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13) The Bible also says, “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14) A similar passage says; “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)
The Bible speaks of several kinds of love, but the kind of love Christians are to display is agape’ love. We must choose to display this type of love. It is a love that will lead to self-giving service. It is the kind of love that God shows and has shown to us. The Bible says; “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 6:3) It is a love that will cause one to even die for another. Jesus said; “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13) As he has shown his love for us, we in turn should show our love to others. The Bible also says; “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” (I John 3:16) In fact, the Bible says; “How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help.” (I John 3:17) Love is how we know we have new life in Christ. We read; “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another.” (I John 3:14) Jesus said; “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Jesus is the supreme example of this type of love. His love motivated him to leave his throne in glory, come to a world filled with sinful people and give his life for them. In this, he demonstrated the love of God to individuals. As Jesus loved us, we are to love others. This is not an option for the believer but a command. The Bible says; “Live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)