September 2017 Words of Life (Week 4)

Developing the Fruit of the Spirit (Part 1)

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23a

          You may say that you are seeing some of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, but not all of them.  What do you do?  The first step would be John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” To bear fruit we MUST abide in Christ.  To abide in Christ, we must be in the Word of God (John 1:1, John 1:14).  There is no substitute for Step 1.  It is a prerequisite / requirement for bearing fruit.  For the second step, let’s look at the natural process for developing fruit in the world. 

          If you have studied gardening you know that fruit and vegetables have companion plants.  For example, people normally plant corn, beans, and squash next to each other.  This is known as the three sisters approach.  As the corn stalks grow, beans naturally find support by climbing up the corn stalk. Beans put nitrogen in the soil, which supports the nutritional needs of the corn. The squash grows rapidly with large leaves that shade out weeds and serves as a natural weed block.  So, one fruit helps the other and vice versa.  This also applies after the fruit has been picked.  If you have a tomato plant which is being weighed down due to the number of tomatoes on the plant, you will need to pick some of those tomatoes early.  Now you have fruit that is not yet ripened.  The solution to ripen this tomato and turn it from green to red is to place it with other fruit, such as a banana, apple, pear, etc.  Certain fruit emit ethylene gas which regulates the speed of the plant’s growth and development.  If you place a banana with a green tomato, the ethylene gas emitted from the banana will ripen the tomato.  As natural fruit helps develop and ripen other natural fruit, our Spiritual fruit follows the same process as we abide in the vine / Word of God (John 15:5). 

Developing the Fruit of the Spirit (Part 2)

Love never fails.   1 Corinthians 13:8a

          You can tell if your fruit is developed by what comes out of your mouth when the fruit is squeezed in challenging situations (Luke 6:45).  What do you say when someone cuts you off in traffic, says something rude to you, you get a bad report from the doctor, etc.?  Does a ripe red tomato wither and turn green when a storm comes?  NO, because that fruit is ripe and developed, it weathers the storm.  When you squeeze a ketchup bottle, ketchup will come out.  When you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice will come out.  When challenges squeeze Christians, the fruit of the Spirit should come out!  Our fruit should always be ripe regardless of what happens to us.  If it is not, follow these steps.

Step 1:  Identify the fruit that you need to work on, such as patience.

Step 2: Affirm yourself.  Romans 4:17b says that God, “calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”   Declare that your fruit is ripe.  I am a patient person and will exhibit patience with everyone.

Step 3:  Focus on developing the fruit of love and self-control, the bookend fruit.  1 John 4:8 says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  Since God is love, as you draw near to God (James 4:8) by reading His Word (John 15:5), you will see His love for you and be able to walk in love much easier.  Self-control is developed from simple discipline.  Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection.”  You must tell your body what it is going to do.  DO NOT let your flesh tell you what you are going to do! 

          Once these fruit are developed, we can use them to develop and ripen our other fruit of the Spirit.  If we put our developed fruit in situations with our undeveloped fruit, they will develop and ripen.  Now as you have an issue with kindness or patience, focus on love.  1 Corinthians 13:4a says, “Love is patient, love is kind.”  Love will help develop patience and kindness. After all Colossians 3:14 says, “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  So even when someone does something rude to you and you think you cannot be patient or kind to them, love them.  Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

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