Monday, May 25, 2009

The Fruit of the Spirit (Overview)

Today we begin a study of the fruit of the Spirit, that will extend into the next few weeks. I realize many are eager to hear my take on North Korea's successful nuclear test, or Iran's rejection of talks as well as their recent show of force, but these are just the signs of the times. Just as a man who sees the storm clouds on the horizon but refuses to take an umbrella would be considered foolhardy, so is a Christian who is only concerned with the signs of the time while refusing to do what is necessary to be in right standing with God considered unwise.
God foretells of coming events, that we as His children might not be ignorant, and that seeing the signs, we might press in, grow in faith, maturity, and spiritual strength.
Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
There is something undeniably sad about a fruitless tree. A fruitless Christian however, is outright tragic. Spiritual fruit is a byproduct of a spiritual life. When a tree is deeply rooted in the ground, it is inevitable that the tree would blossom, and produce fruit. When a Christian is deeply rooted in Christ, it is likewise inevitable that the Christian would manifest, or produce the fruit of the Spirit.
A fruitless tree always seems out of place, it stands out among other trees that are bearing fruit. What draws our attention, what catches the eye, is not the hundred trees in an orchard that are heavy with fruit, but the one tree that is dried up, whose branches are barren and absent of life.
What catches the world’s eye when it comes to Christians is not those who endeavor to follow after Christ faithfully, those that have spiritual fruit in abundance, but those that have dried up, and show no fruit. This is why it is essential for the keeper of the orchard to keep a vigilant eye on every individual tree, and if he notices that a tree is not bearing fruit, or that it has withered, take measures to either return it to a healthy state, or take steps to remove it from among the fruitful trees.
The primary concern of the orchard keeper is to make sure that whatever killed the life in the fruitless tree, would not spread and become an epidemic killing off the entire orchard.
When sin goes unchecked with in a church, when it is overlooked and swept under the rug, it inevitably infects more and more of the congregation, until you end up with more fruitless Christians than fruitful Christians.
There are two major reasons a tree becomes barren and stops bearing fruit. First, something has separated its roots from the source of life giving nutrients, and second, something is eating away at it from the inside out. Whatever the reason, the end result is always the same; a lifeless hunk of wood that will be felled to the ground by the first storm that sweeps through the church.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul itemizes the fruit of the Spirit, in order for us to understand what God expects us to produce once we’ve been born again, and received a new life in Him.
What we must also keep in mind, is that one tree, one Christian must possess all these virtues and the combination of these virtues are counted as the fruit of the Spirit.
Pay close attention to the first seven words in the passage that was quoted at the onset of this teaching: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is’
Paul didn’t say the fruits of the Spirit are, but the fruit of the spirit is!
What does this mean?
In essence, it means that love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, are all one fruit. We are not encouraged to possess just one, but we are admonished to possess all these virtues, for only when we posses them all do we possess the fruit of the spirit.
Even those in the world can possess a single solitary virtue of which Paul speaks, whether it be goodness, kindness, love or gentleness, but only a child of God can posses them all as one indispensable proof that we are alive in Him.
It may seem like I am belaboring the point, but this is one of those important things that has been widely overlooked within the churches today, and is essential if we are to grow in God, and walk in His will.
The best way I can describe the fruit of the Spirit, is to view it as a multivitamin. In one multivitamin you will find calcium, magnesium, niacin, folic acid, potassium, and a score of other individual ingredients that make up the whole.
In the same manner, the ingredients in the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. It is the individual elements that make up the whole.
Granted, there are some who need to supplement certain individual ingredients, such as taking an extra dose of iron, or potassium, B12 vitamin, or Calcium along with their daily multivitamin, but in most cases one recommended dose per day, is enough to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
In the same manner there are Christians who need to infuse either more love, more peace, more joy, or more kindness into their Spiritual fruit, in order to compensate for some deficiencies.
Although some have stated, that love is the primary ingredient, or the primary component in the fruit of the Spirit, because Paul named it first, I tend to believe that in the context of this passage, all are equally important for our spiritual wellbeing. There are nine things Paul names, as the ingredients that make up the fruit of the Spirit, and just as removing one ingredient from a recipe will produce something other than what we envisioned, removing one of these nine ingredients from our Spiritual fruit will also produce something other than a fulfilling and overcoming spiritual life.
God’s desire is that we be complete, that we do not lack in any of these nine virtues, because to lack in one, is to be deficient, and to be deficient, is to be less than what we can be in God.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Hi Michael,

The Holy Spirit brought two verses to mind as I read your post:
"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
John 15:8
"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. John 15:5

We must be sure of this in our own lives, or else, how can we bring others to Christ if we are not connected to the Vine and bearing fruit?
You are encouraging us, Michael, to examine our lives for fruit! No matter what times we are living in, we can bear fruit that results in bringing glory to God, when we make it our aim to daily live in the presence of Christ, not allowing our sinful tendencies to control us, but to walk according to God's word, by His power, and thus bear fruit! We cannot allow sin to go unchecked in our lives. As times get tougher, more opportunities for sharing Christ may present themselves, than when people find themselves at ease & in comfort. We should not think we have time to decide to walk closer to God when hard times come upon us. We must be doing that now! God wants to use us now, and in the coming days, too!

Looking forward to more of the study...!