Following up on last week’s message, this one is intended to help us understand the importance of living in and through the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, the church is dead. With the Spirit, the church has joy and power. Based on Galatians 5.16-26, you can listen to the message here:
I hadn’t had time to deposit my stipend cheque until this morning, so I took a minute and went to the bank on my way to the church office. The bank I use has one ATM – we live in a small community! – and there was a fellow ahead of me at the machine. It appeared he had several things to do, including deposits and passbook updates.
In the meantime, another fellow came in, a few minutes after I did. He queued up behind me, and started sighing loudly immediately. It was obvious he was in a hurry, and after making his displeasure known through body movements and deep sighs, he decided he couldn’t wait. He walked back to his truck and rushed out of the parking lot.
It was only perhaps a minute after he left that the fellow in front of me was finished his transactions, and mine took under two minutes. If that other chap had been patient enough to wait, he could have done his banking. But he was not.
Of course, we don’t know what awaited him at his next stop; perhaps he had a boss who was fussy about a sharp arrival time at work. Nevertheless, his movements and noises indicated that waiting just wasn’t his thing.
We spend a lot of time waiting in this life that is filled with technological advances. It used to be that we waited in line at the grocery store or the bank or the movie theatre. There’s more to it today; think about how much cumulative time you have spent waiting for debit or credit card transactions to be approved.
I’ve said it before, but time that is spent waiting is time that can be redeemed. While you wait, you can engage in friendly conversation, if appropriate; or you can pray for people for whom you have committed to do so. You can even pray for the people around you in line; you have no idea what burdens they may carry.
We all have places to be and deadlines to meet. If you can build enough margin into your schedule to allow you to use the time spent in line for communion with God, and Kingdom-building purposes, there is much good that God can do through you, beyond what he’s already doing now!
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5.22-23, NLT).
Earlier this week, I heard an outstanding message on Psalm 1, with a focus on how those who delight in the law of the Lord are “like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in each season” (Psalm 1.3a, NLT).
It’s true: when we are planted firmly like trees, and our roots deepen and expand, we bear fruit. But what is this like, and what brings it about? I’ve been thinking about that ever since. Let’s consider it.
Our roots deepen and expand when we spend time in God’s Word, reading Scripture not just to amass information but to be shaped and transformed through it by the Holy Spirit. Our roots deepen and expand when we serve the Lord with our gifts, talents and skills. Our roots deepen and expand when we live the Christian life fully and authentically for the glory of God alone.
And what happens? We bear fruit. What kind of fruit?
Well, when we’re being transformed by the Holy Spirit, it stands to reason that we are bearing spiritual fruit – the fruit of the Spirit. The apostle Paul, in the letter to the Galatians, says that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5.22, NLT).
If you want to discern what kind of tree you’re looking at, you observe the fruit it bears, right? Apple trees don’t bear pears. Peach trees don’t bear plums. Each bears what it’s designed by God to bear. So it is with the follower of Jesus: when we live an authentically Christian life, we bear the fruit of the Spirit – not because we want to appease God in some way, but because we are living authentic Christian lives.
A healthy apple tree can’t not bear apples. A healthy follower of Jesus can’t not bear the fruit of the Spirit. The question becomes this: am I bearing the fruit that God designed me to bear? Also, am I living authentically in Christ? Are my roots deepening and expanding? Am I delighting in the law of the Lord? Am I like a tree planted along a riverbank?
A lot of questions. But when we let God live his life through us by the Holy Spirit, we experience the joy of fruit-bearing and know that it really is the life we were intended to live.
We’re getting into the season where leaves fall off trees and fruit is borne no more. But as Christians, God invites us to bear fruit all year. Is there a particular fruit of the Spirit that you’re working on right now? May you know God’s blessing as you seek to bear fruit for him.