We live in a world full of choices. If you have cable television you know what we are talking about. Even if you have the basic cable package you probably have fifty of more channels to choose from, many of which really do not have any programming worth watching, but nonetheless you have endless choices. Walk down the breakfast foods aisle in the grocery store and you have are faced with a bevy of corn flakes. No longer can you simply just buy a box of corn flakes. Now you have to decide whether you want plain corn flakes or ones with blueberries or strawberries, honey-coated or with almonds.
Not only to we have choices, we also can often pick and choose from a list of items. When you go to your favorite all-you-can-eat buffet you walk down the food line and pick and choose which foods you like. You like the fried shrimp but not the sliced turkey. Green beans, you take a double portion of those but you pass by the broccoli. You finally get to the desserts, and you take them all.
Many times we follow God like we walk down the buffet line; we want a la carte. We want to pick and choose which of God’s commands we want to embrace. God has given is “free will” to choose between good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate, etc. Paul tells us that we have freedom in Christ. In Galatians 5:13 we read this, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom in indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” This freedom we have is a liberty not a license. What we mean by that is our freedom is not a license to indulge our flesh. Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a list of the sinful acts of the flesh.
Today we want to focus not on the acts that our sinful nature is capable of, but rather, we want to focus on the fruit that comes by living in the Spirit. This “Fruit of the Spirit” consists of attitude and actions that should be evident in followers of Jesus. The word “fruit” is in the singular form, meaning it is not a list to pick and choose from, but instead like a bunch of grapes instead of separate pieces of fruit. (This singular fruit is contrasted against the plural “acts” of the sinful nature.) Just what is this fruit? In Galatians 5:22-23 we find, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there in no law.” (NASB)
These virtues need no classification, but to help understand them, let us offer three categories. The first three can be viewed as habits of our heart, the second three as social values, and the last three concern how we are to be in ourselves.
Ask God to help you grow His fruit in your life. And begin to picture yourself as the juice squeezed from grapes. Who doesn’t like a glass of juice or wine made from grapes?
New Bern, North Carolina