Let’s start this edition of musings off with a minor correction from Sunday (some of you might think this is major)…I know that I misstated which superhero tossed Loki around and called him “puny god”…it was Hulk…I had it written in my notes correctly, but got so excited that I said it was Thor who did that…oops…and yes, you know you’re a little bit nerdy when you’re using such references.
The fruit of the Spirit passage has always intimidated me and amazed me. Intimidated me because it really does reveal the true character that the Spirit produces in us. And often…I feel like that fruit isn’t produced as often in my life as it should be. So, when preaching on this text, it feels a tad hypocritical. Much of this is because I’m a bit introspective and sometimes too much so. And this text has always amazed me because of the same reason. Knowing that Jesus Christ has each of these qualities to their maximum capacity is awesome. And knowing that He is the author of these qualities is equally amazing. This fruit, produced by Jesus’ Spirit in us, makes us look more and more like Jesus everyday. Amazing.
There are a couple of things about the Fruit of the Spirit that I left out:
When Paul wrote about what the Spirit produces in us, he mentions a fruit list, not a rules list and not a gift list. One of the issues that we (I) have a tendency to do is get mesmerized by the gifts of the Spirit and we tend to minimize the fruit of the Spirit. We fail to see that the fruit of the Spirit is really important. We think that as long as someone is gifted, it doesn’t really matter how they act. And what’s weird is that being enamored with gifts, can be one of the main reasons for pride, envy and bragging in the Christian church. Timothy George wrote about this, when he wrote, “When Christians forget this, then two horrible consequences invariably follow: the worship of the church is disrupted as the gifts of the Spirit are placed in invidious competition with the fruit of the Spirit, as happened at Corinth; the witness of the church is damaged as unbelievers stumble and fall over the obvious lack of love within the body of Christ.”
The other issue that hit me about this list of fruit, is the fact that there’s no mention of boldness or courage. The reason this hit me is because so often in evangelical circles, we think that boldness and courage are “must-haves”…and they are…but I wonder why Paul didn’t put them in this list? To some degree, at minimum, this tells us that the fruit on this list are exceedingly important to the Spirit to produce in us. Further, we should never minimize what He produces in us. So, this might mean a believer is really kind, but struggle with courage. A believer could be really patient, but not as bold. But does this mean we shouldn’t pray for boldness and courage? No, we should pray for that and we see this evidenced in Acts 4. But my point in bringing this up is that often we honor those who are bold or we clap for the courageous…but I wonder how many times we honor the self-controlled? or the person who is good?
Quotes that I found interesting:
- “The weed that tries to choke out love is enmity. Dissension stunts the growth of peace. Patience is crowded out by anger. The weed that grows around self-control is sensuality; and so forth.” Philip Ryken
- “Love is not one virtue among a list of virtues, but the sum and substance of what it means to be a Christian.” C.B. Cousar
- “The fruit of the Spirit is the natural produce of his gracious inward influence, the spontaneous and inevitable result of his uniting us to Jesus Christ. It will take time to grow, but grow it must, for God will make it grow.” Philip Ryken
- “Holiness is the naturalness of the spiritually risen man, just as sin is the naturalness of the spiritually dead man, and in pursuing holiness by obeying God the Christian actually follows the deepest urge of his own renewed being.” J.I. Packer
- “To ‘take up the cross’ was our Lord’s vivid figure of speech for self-denial. Every follower of Christ is to behave like a condemned criminal and carry his cross to the place of execution. Now Paul takes the metaphor to its logical conclusion. We must not only take up our cross and walk with it, but actually see that the execution takes place. We are actually to take the flesh, our wilful and wayward self, and nail it to the cross.” John Stott
- “The Holy Spirit rarely works in extraordinary ways. Instead, he uses the ordinary means of grace to bring spiritual growth: the reading and preaching of God’s Word, the sacraments of baptism and communion, and the life of prayer. Contrary to what so many Christians seem to believe, true spiritual growth does not come from some special experience of the Holy Spirit. Habit forming is the Spirit’s ordinary way of leading us on in holiness.… Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control are all of them habitual … ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving…” Philip Ryken
From the cheap seats:
- March Madness (NCAA Basketball Tournament) might be the single, most unifying sporting event in America. It brings families together, communities are watching, and everyone is glued to the TV…unless you’re not.
- With that in mind…I have always bled Carolina blue, because my dad was born and raised in North Carolina. He raised me from a young pup to pull for Coach Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and James Worthy. Only to see Coach Roy Williams take our beloved ‘heels to new heights. This year is a surprise. And…it’s another reason for me to miss my dad.
- And finally, this week…can you hear it coming?? Yes, that’s Opening Day coming at you this week. Major League Baseball kicks off this week for the marathon called the regular season…162 games. Wow.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.