Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
There is one type of restaurant that I really like to eat at but I don’t ever feel like I get my money worth, a buffet. When Caleb was growing up he loved to eat at Golden Coral. I think it was because he liked the self-serve ice cream mostly. I like buffet style restraints because you can eat several different kinds of foods that most restaurants would never pair together like chicken nuggets, spaghetti, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. No that isn’t what Caleb would get. That is what I would order.
Now that you know I have some strange eating preferences I want to talk about how a verse about the fruit of the Spirit has anything to do with a buffet. There are some words in verse 22 of chapter 5 of Galatians that I think are so important that readers should not miss, “…the fruit of the Spirit is…” Let me first stress that English was one of my worst subjects growing up and in college. However, I do remember learning about singular and plural forms of words. What is really interesting is that when Paul is talking about the fruit he refers to it in a singular form. If he wanted to use the plural form of fruit he would have put an “s” at the end of fruit. Scripture also shows the single form by using the word “is” just a few words later. If the fruit was a plural form it would have used the word “are.” So there is your English lesson for the day. The question is what does that mean for us as Christians that Paul said the fruit of Spirit is singular and not plural?
As Christians we need to understand the fruit of the Spirit isn’t a buffet. We don’t look at the list given to us and say yes on that no on that. I will live a life of joy and gentleness but faithfulness and self-control aren’t for me. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t a pick and choose kind buffet. If we are saved we have the Holy Spirit living in us and because of that we should be bearing ALL of the fruits that Paul lists.
A month ago I got to spend an afternoon with a great friend of mine that lives a couple hours away. After his retirement he started the hard work of bringing his father-in-laws orchard back to some resemblance of what it used to be. He spent months getting rid of the weeds and plants that didn’t belong there. Then he started to fix the water system and numerous leaks underground. Next he had to prepare the ground so he could plant new things. After planting he now does the tedious job of caring for all of it; peaches, pears, apple trees as well as pumpkins, potatoes, peppers, and several other things.
I think about all the work he has put into it and how much more is left before he is able to harvest the fruits of his labor. He has done so much and still has a lot to do. The picture of the work he has done gives a great example of what needs to occur in the life of Christians. If we are going to bear the fruit of the Spirit we have to take similar steps to what my friend did. First and foremost we must remove the weeds of sin from our life. It is hard for the fruits we want to grow to be able to grow when weeds of sin are stealing the nutrients we need. We can’t feed our sin and live the way God wants us to live, it is one or the other not both. Just like he had to reestablish the water system, we need to establish patterns in our life that provide us the living water we need from our Lord and Savior. We need a trusty worth way of obtaining its life giving power. This can be through setting a consistent schedule of prayer, reading, study, and church attendance. We may need to prepare the soil of our life to make it ready for all of these changes to be productive. We may need to make some drastic changes in our lives. The things we invest our time and money in, the people and relationships we have, the focus and priorities we have in our life may all need to be turned over. We need to plant the seeds of the spirit in our heart. We need to spend time learning what those words really mean and what it should look like in our life when we are living it out. (Over the next several weeks I will be going in detail of them and will provide a sermon link over them as well to help you.) Planting the seeds isn’t the end, then comes the daily work of helping those seeds grow by living out what we learn in our lives and with the people we come in contact with. At different times we will see the harvest of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Even more wonderful will it be when we start to see the harvest occurring in the lives of people we impact.
Just like with the orchard the cycle of seasons go on in our spiritual walk. The work is always there needing to be done year after year. Our task is never truly finished until we are called home to Glory.