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Fruit of the Spirit

Jun 30, 2017   //   by Wade   //   Sermons  //  No Comments

Summer Fruit Sermon Series. “Quit trying so hard!” This was my buddy’s thoughtful advice as I flailed my arms back and forth trying to get line to spool from my fly reel. “Stop thrashing! Let the equipment do the work.” Fly fishing, like Flyfishingmany physical endeavors, is less about making something happen than about learning to allow it to happen: tilt the rod back, release forward, and the line simply spools out – the less effort, the better the outcome.

According to Paul, the spiritual life is similar: less about trying, more about receiving. Less about effort, more about release. In the book of Galatians, Paul lays out two basic options for how we can live: we can live by the flesh, or we can live by the Spirit. Life “in the flesh” is life on our own steam: life lived on our own terms, according to our own agenda, with our own resources, by our own energy, and toward our own ends. Life in the Spirit, by contrast, is life on God’s terms, according to his agenda, with his resources, by his energy, and toward his ends. “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts!” says Paul (4:6). “Therefore live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the flesh.” The Spirit of Jesus, alive in us, is more than sufficient to supply our needs, to guide our steps, and to make us flourish – if only we will stop relying on the flesh and learn to yield to him.

Paul’s striking image for this kind of life is a fitting one for the summer season: fruit. Life by the Spirit is “fruit-bearing” life. Just as a fruit tree brings forth its delicious crop, so a Spirit-led life brings forth good fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (5:22-23). Wow – what a delicious list! Isn’t this the kind of fruit we long to see growing in our lives?! The point of Paul’s image is this: a fruit tree doesn’t work to produce its fruit. It simply yields to the nutrients flowing through it from soil, water and sun, and presto! Fruit on the branches. Paul is saying that the Christian spiritual life is not about trying to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, etc. It’s about allowing the Spirit of Christ to grow that fruit in us, as we root ourselves in him. When we try to manufacture these virtues through our own fleshly efforts, our fruit turns out rotten: perhaps attractive on the outside, but lacking substance, lacking sweetness, lacking the qualities that make true, nature-grown fruit so delicious. Only a life rooted in Christ, flowing with his living Spirit, can bring this good fruit about.

I hope you’ll join us this summer in worship, as each week we explore a different attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. We’ll look at how these qualities – love, joy peace, patience, etc. – grow from Christ’s living Spirit, and what it might mean to live them out in ways that are compelling and “delicious” to the people around us. In the meantime, a little spiritual homework: choose a summer fruit from a farmer’s market or fruit stand. Savor it. Think about what makes it delicious: taste, texture, scent … Give thanks to God for good fruit, and prayerfully invite him in to grow his perfect spiritual fruit in you … Then, watch what happens!

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