Would you like some fruit?

I remember, as a kid, going to Sunday School one morning and seeing fruit on the flannel board. There was a watermelon, a banana, an apple, and various other fruits. Each piece of fruit had a word written on it. As the class began, the teacher introduced a passage from Galatians and told us we would be learning about the fruits of the Spirit. The watermelon was love, the banana was joy, the apple was peace, etc. The image is one that has stuck in my mind over the years. As I look at our world today, the passage which contains the fruits has much to say about our current world and how we, as Christians, are called to act.

In the second half of Galatians 5, Paul identifies two opposing forces within believers. The first is our inherent sinful nature. All men are born carrying the sinful nature we inherited from Adam. Paul states that the desires of the sinful nature are in opposition to the desire of the Holy Spirit. He goes on to say that the acts of the sinful nature include things like sexual immorality, debauchery, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, and drunkenness. Does any of this sound familiar? We live in a world that seems increasingly drenched in these acts. We look around today and see violence in our cities, mass shootings in schools, racist actions taken against our fellow citizens, and an increasingly confused relationship with sexuality. Often, we feel as though the world is sinking into a pit. Pastor Pete wrote about walking in darkness last week. But way back in 49 AD, Paul was facing a darkness that was similar and was writing to the Galatian church about it. He is pointing out that these dark actions are the natural outgrowth of being controlled by sin. Then he introduces another way.

In verses 22-23, Paul tells us the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He uses the word “fruit” as opposed to “acts”, which he used in reference to the sin nature. He does this to point out that we act on our sin nature, but the fruits are an outgrowth of the Holy Spirit’s work, not our own. As we allow the Spirit to lead us, he will show us how to be kind, loving, patient, gentle, self-controlled, etc. Our sin nature will always be against the Spirit but as we mature and allow the Spirit to guide and mold us, the fruits listed above will grow.

The question remains, as we see the world embracing the acts of the sin nature, how do we respond? Paul tells us we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, especially when they are different from us. He tells us to be an example of joy to those around us even when the circumstances of our lives are hard. He tells us to be patient and gentle and self-controlled, particularly when we are angered by events and opinions we encounter in the world around us. We know all too well that our world is in desperate need of Christ. It is also in desperate need of Christians who are willing to submit themselves to the Holy Spirit and be made increasingly like Christ. The world needs Christians who are displaying the fruits of the Spirit. So, would you like some fruit?
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Josh Cervone