Fruitfulness: Galatians 5:22–23
This talk was given by Moira Curry on as part of our worship service at Main Street Community Church and on the Internet. The talk is long.
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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22,23 NIV UK)
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
(Galatians 5:22, 23 NRSVA)
The Deer’s Cry song mentioned in the talk can be heard, with the lyrics, on YouTube.
Much is talked about and often argued about the gifts of the Spirit. If you are my generation and a little bit older or a bit younger or whatever, there was a huge amount of arguments about the gifts of the Spirit when we were growing up but rather less is made of the fruit of the Spirit and we understand that specific gifts are given.
Not everybody gets the same gift. Everybody gets gifts, but you might not all have the same gift. Maybe we don’t all need the same gift and they’re given to specific people and often at specific times, we’re told not to seek gifts that are not meant for us, and the chapter in 1 Corinthians 12, where it talks about the gifts of the spirit, it goes on to talk about the church being different parts of the body which all that means. We don’t need about 40 eyes and no legs and things like that. There’s a lot talked about that, but the fruit of the Spirit is something which grows within us, as we seek to become more like Jesus. It’s for all of us, just as Beth’s potatoes produced a huge crop of fruits or potatoes.
We should be growing our own fruits and it won’t grow unless, like the potato, we have strong roots, the right amount of food and water and the right conditions. As she said, it needed water, it needed sunshine and we are the same in growing our fruit. To grow our spiritual fruit, we need to have our roots in things like the word of God. The amount of time we spend in the presence of Jesus, worship, whether private or with others as today, and immersing our things in the things which encourage rather than harm us.
The fruit of the Spirit is talked about in Galatians 5:22-23. We’ve sung about them. We’ve heard about them in Paul’s prayer and the children are going to do something about them in there. These are the things which we can’t earn in our own strength. The fruit of the Spirit is the natural result of the presence of the Holy Spirit living in someone who believes, God can change our characters and this manifests itself in good fruit. Galatians 5:22, 23 lists the characteristics of this fruit. This is for all of us. You can’t say I’ve got the fruit of love and I haven’t got the fruit of gentleness, because that really just wouldn’t work. It may need some work, but we’re all works in progress.
I remember there used to be t-shirts which said, God hasn’t given up on me yet, and that’s true for every one of us now. God hasn’t given up on any of us. We’re even, from the youngest to the oldest, we’re still works in God’s progress. What are these characteristics that we’re working towards? Many are at first glance self-explanatory. We could spend a week on each one quite easily, but as we’ve only got about 15 minutes and we’ve had a lot of that already, then it might need for you to look it yourselves at the meaning of each gift, but the Greek words for these fruits help the meaning to expand.
Sometimes it’s easy to think of some of these words, and you have in your own mind what they mean, but the Greek words were perhaps not just exactly as that. Having looked up some of these, I’m not usually doing this in Second Sundays, this is what I seem to have found out.
The love, first of all, it’s not the sentimental love which many songs are about, but it’s a definite choice to put others first and sacrifice ourselves on their behalf. True agape love, it can only come through God’s power. It’s not always easy to love someone who is unlovely or who’s hard to love, but through God’s power we can.
Joy, and again, that’s not to be used confused just with happiness, with happy clappiness and things like that. Joy again, is a deep-down feeling of being right with God, whatever our worldly situation is. It’s just that confidence that we have in God. We maybe can’t just praise all the time, but deep down in our hearts we know, we do have that joy.
Peace, we’d all like peace. Wouldn’t we? I think we’d like peace for our world, peace for ourselves, but this means everything that’s good within relationships either personally or between countries, harmony, friendliness, safety, order, rest, and contentment, not being pulled in different directions.
Now, patience. I think all of us find that a bit difficult especially perhaps when you’re driving or whatever. It’s not just trying to be calm and peaceful while waiting for the queue at the shops or the doctors, or in traffic, although that is a useful attribute to have. It really means long-suffering in the face of persecution, just as Jesus kept silent while he was being whipped and beaten. We need that gift of–the fruit of patient, I think it probably is a gift of patience as well, but it’s just knowing that we don’t need to fret, that God is in control.
Kindness. Again, kindness is one that we’re all told, we’ve got to be kind to each other, but it’s not just being nice to people. It’s the moral goodness and integrity, required to know the right course of action with the strength to choose it. Choosing to be kind, maybe when it perhaps goes against our nature to be kind to a particular person or whatever.
Goodness, it’s sometimes described as kindness with an extra edge to it. Fierce kindness, doing the right thing if it’s hard, and also if it hurts someone. Being cruel to be kind. I think most of those of us with children will understand what that means that sometimes you do have to stop them doing things, which seems hard, but you almost have to be cruel to be kind and it’s having that moral integrity to be able to do that.
Faithfulness, and faithfulness isn’t just being dependable. There are lots and lots of people you know who are dependable, but it’s the being fully surrendered to God, manifesting the actions that result from that surrender.
Gentleness apparently isn’t an easy word to translate from the Greek. Those of you who know about this will probably can go with that. Though sometimes meekness is used, but even that has its own connotations, doesn’t it? It means accepting God’s correction without arguing or resisting. This comes from a position of strength, it’s submission and grace, without concern for one’s own rights. As I said, we could spend days on this.
Then the last one, self-control, and again, that’s sometimes quite hard. It’s sometimes easy just to give the quick remark or to shout to the driver that’s putting you up in the motorway and things like that. Self-control again is from a position of strength, a robust power and mastery and restraint.
This is the Spirit’s fruit, a result of His work within us. We can play our part, our attitude can quench His power and influence or we can embrace His grace and abide in Christ. We won’t always get it right. We mostly won’t get it right, but the gift of grace and forgiveness is available for all of us on a daily basis.
Now that’s a very simplistic overview of the fruits of the spirit and I’m sure there are many more just …
[Dick, there’s a little bit left before they come back in. Sorry, there’s another song. Were you going to fetch them? Oh, sorry. Sorry.]
There are many more discussions that we could have about all these different fruits, but we’re are just going to think about these things and reflect on the fruit which we grow and we show, and we’re going to listen to a piece of music based on the prayer of St. Patrick, it’s called The Deer’s Cry. Some of you may know it, it’s very affirming.
I think we did it once, we had it once at a retreat and it’s meant a great deal to me and I’m sure if you just listen to the music. You don’t need to sing, just listen to the music and just reflect yourself on these different fruits and think maybe where you need to ask for grace to grow more of these fruits.
Father, we thank you that it’s your holy spirit that helps us to grow the fruit, that we need to live in this world. We just pray that we will be fully surrendered to you so that we can have your help in growing, to be more like our saviour Jesus. Thank you, Lord, that you sent Him, and thank you that we can know Him, and have His strength within us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
References and sources
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Scripture quotations marked NRSVA on this page and in the audio are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NIVUK or NIV UK on this page and in the audio are from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations marked NIV on this page and in the audio are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.