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“Going Nowhere Fast” Series An Introduction: Cultivating the Fruit of Spirit

10 Feb

The Fruit of the Spirit - Kindle edition by Rose Publishing. Religion &  Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I want to tell you a preacher story, but it isn’t my story. It’s a story that David Chadwell (minister in Arkansas) shared. David & Joyce Chadwell tried to plant a garden in Africa. The soil there was so very rich that they decided to bring seeds from home back to Africa. So they planted their beans and peas, tomatoes, and other good seeds and waited for the rich nutrient-filled soil to yield a great harvest. And lo and behold huge plants sprung forth from the ground. Large plants, larger than they typically grew back home in America. And so they waited for the fruit. And they waited. And they waited. There weren’t any fruit. There weren’t even any blooms. For whatever reasons, the environment in Africa was wonderful for growing their seeds into large, green, healthy plants, but there were no fruit. Rather disappointing wouldn’t you say?

 (Luke 13:6-9 NIV)  Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. {7} So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ {8} “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. {9} If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

Compare to the parable. God is looking for fruit. He has a reason for expecting fruit from his people. God wants his people to bear fruit because he desires a harvest. Bearing Fruit has to do With God’s purpose for us. If we are caught up and involved in Gods mission then we will bear Fruit. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit; we are immersed in an environment and connected to a source of life that will do more than grow big green leafy plants – it will bring forth fruit.

As we begin this series I want to lay out some key principles for us to meditate on and discuss often …what do we mean when we speak of the Fruit of the Spirit?

(Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. {24} Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. {25} Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

First, notice that there is “one fruit.” “Fruit of the spirit” is not a way of talking about a list of good characteristics so as to make them sound holy or churchy. “Of the Spirit” means that these qualities are the result of the spirit active in our life together.

The Fruit of the Spirit are not a collector’s set. They are not our individual possessions. They are virtues: 1) the disposition to act in a certain way that are rooted in life together; and 2) they are rooted in common soil which are the common values and faith of the Christian community, so …

We are concerned not merely with the fruit that individuals bear, but the fruit that springs forth from the church – from this congregation. Now that involves all of us as individuals, but it is more than just us as individuals. Too often we tend to think of every Christian as a little tree in God’s orchard. Growing in the spirit is not a matter for private study.

Let’s look at another teaching of Jesus using an agricultural image:

John 15:1-6 (NIV)
1  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
3  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
6  If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Not only does this affirm what we said about being in step with God’s spirit, it also indicates that if we are going to have any sort of spiritual life at all we must be connected to Christ. Now use a little logic – if I am connected with Christ and you are connected with Christ and he is connected with Christ and she is connected with Christ then aren’t all of us connected with Christ also connected with one another. Sure we are (and John even affirms that in his letters).

The language in Galatians 5 is plural – “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

If the Spirit animates and courses through the Church, then the church should be bearing producing giving forth the fruit of the spirit.

 Conclusion:
I have heard it said that we are not judges but we are fruit inspectors. I am not sure we are worthy to be either. If we recognize the fruit of the spirit it is only because the love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are as easy for us to recognize as are apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes.

The fruit inspector is God. He comes to us and wants more than a great big leafy plant. He seeks the fruit of the spirit that embodies before the world the sort of changed lives that God desires for all creation. The story of the man who owned a vineyard and a fig tree is not just a story of judgment – or fruit inspection – it is also a story of grace – or good gardening. There is still time to see a bountiful harvest.

The soil of our American culture may not be the best, but the true vine can grow in the most hostile environments.

The true vine, the sign of God’s mercy and love, was a horrible, scandalous cross raised up in a city garbage heap outside the respectable borders of town. If we remain in the true vine, nourished by the life-giving Holy Spirit, then there is real hope of bearing fruit.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2022 in Fruit of Spirit

 

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