On Saturday I will make the trip quick to Madrid, Iowa and spent the next several days with the saints there. A couple of years ago the elders there invited me to come in 2016 to preach during their spring gospel meeting. I was really excited and feeling very blessed because, besides the fact that I have been preaching for nearly 14 years, I have never been invited to speak for a weeklong (or in this case 4 day) meeting. A few months ago they called to let me know what subject matter they would like for me to preach on. They gave me the Fruits of the Spirit.
In Gal. 5:22-23 Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I view these “fruits” much like I view the beatitudes found in Matt. 5. Paul is not telling us that there are different types of fruits that different types of Christians can bear. The church is not like a fruit farm that has all kinds of different fruits growing: apple trees, pear trees, orange trees, banana trees, etc Christians are supposed to be branches off the true vine (John 14) that produces all of these fruits. It is not just the preacher who is supposed to be kind, good, faithful, gentle, loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, and full of self-control. It is not just the elders who should be bearing these fruits. It is every person that bears the name of Christ!
Sadly, we often make excuses as to why we don’t bear the fruits we should. We say things like, “I’m working on it.” Could you imagine failing every day at work and you reply with “I’m working on it.” How long do you think you will have a job? I cannot imagine an employer will tolerate an unproductive employee whose only response to his constant shortcomings is “I’m working on it.” And yet, that is exactly how we expect God to view our personal shortcomings in his vineyard. When He shows us that we aren’t loving enough, we say, “I’m working on it.” Do you know what happens when we keep saying “I’m working on it?” The world is being impacted by your lack of fruit bearing! Children grow up watching dad constantly lose his temper all while he replies, “I’m working on it.” Husbands continue to be belittled by their wives why she says, “I’m working on my loving behavior.” Your neighbor continues to watch you play golf, watch football, sleep in on Sunday mornings, etc and yet when asked about your faith in attendance, you say “I’m working on it.”
Do you know what Jesus did to the tree that was “working on it?” “And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away (Matt. 21:19).” He cursed it and it died. Let that sink in for just a moment. When we constantly fail to produce the fruits we have been called on to produce, when we constantly make excuses as to why we aren’t fruitful God will cut us off! As John said, the ax is at the root (Matt. 3:10). He is ready to cut it down. When he returns again, will he find faith in you?
If you are interested in hearing more about the fruits of the spirit and you are in the area I encourage you to attend the meeting in Madrid, IA. Here is their website where you can find address, meeting times, etc. I hope to see you there.