Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
773-725-8903
 

April 2018

"Fruit of the Spirit" or "Fruit of the Looms?"

Walk into the local Jewel, and you'11 find a variety of fruit in the produce section. But a smart shopper will examine the condition of the fruit they choose, lest they end up buying fruit that bas become rotten. And so, I ask you, when you consider the quality of the spiritual produce in your life: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23), are you attracting people to "taste and see that the Lord is good?"

Or, instead. are you causing others to think twice before they buy into the Gospel message? In short, is there evidence ofthe fruit of the Spirit in your life? Or is the spiritual fruit in your life more on par with an old pair of fruit of the looms, stinky and repugnant to others? Or what Galatians 5:19-21 describes as "sexual immorality, impurity sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these."

Earlier in this same chapter of Galatians, we are told to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (5:16). And the quality of the spiritual produce in your life is evidence of how well you've been doing in walking in the spirit, and what you've been feeding your soul on, lately. For as the saying goes, "You are what you eat!"

Before the fall, we can assume that Adam and Eve ate from a variety of fruits in the Garden of Eden and were completely satisfied. But then the devil came along and enticed them to eat from the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, and he fooled them into thinking that God was withholding something good from them. For the forbidden fruit was a delight to look at and looked delicious to eat, and on top of that, the devil told Eve that when she ate it her eyes would be opened and she would be like God and know good and evil (see Genesis 3:5).

Now why would Eve or anyone else for that matter want to know evil? But the devil is an expert in making the ugliness of sin appear attractive to our sinful flesh.

If only our first parents could have seen the deadly consequences of their sin. And if only we could see the deadly consequences of our sins. For "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14: 12). Immediately, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and felt ashamed, and so they foolishly tried to cover up their nakedness and shame with fig leaves.

And when God confronted Adam about his sin by asking the penetrating question, "Where are you?" (Genesis 5:9), he even tried to cover up his sin further by blaming not only Eve but God Himself, saying, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate" (Genesis 5: 12).

But, isn't that so much like you and me, as well, whenever our sinful nature attempts to cover up our guilt and shame with fig leaves of excuses, pretenses, and self-justifications? Blaming others and ultimately even God for our sins!

Saying, "This wife you gave me, Lord!" "This husband you gave me, Lord!" These children you gave me, Lord!" "This boss you gave me, Lord!" "This co-worker you gave me, Lord!" "This classmate you gave me, Lord!" "This teacher you gave me, Lord!" This neighbor you gave me, Lord!" "This pastor you gave me, Lord!" But, by covering up our sins, we are preventing from taking place the greatest miracle of all, namely, the transformation of a life that is dead in sin and trespasses into a life of forgiveness and fruitfulness!

John 15 tells us, that the key to a fruitful life is that we abide in Christ, like a branch clings to a vine (vs. 4). But the only way we can cling to Christ is if there is nothing else between us and him - no cover ups, no excuses, no hiding or blaming others.

But, instead, by standing before God with penitent hearts and in total transparency joining David in saying the words found in his penitential Psalm: "Against you, you only, have I sinned" (Psalm 51:4). And, similarly, joining the tax collector in Luke 18 by saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" (vs. 13) For as 1 John 1 :9-10 declares, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithfull and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Before kicking Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, God promised a Savior from the seed of Eve, and then he clothed them with animal skins. The shed blood from those animals pointed to the blood that the promised Savior would shed on the cross for the sins of the world, yours and mine. Thus, making it possible for us to exchange our rotten old "fruit of the loom-like" clothes of unrighteousness with His totally clean and spotless clothes of righteousness, filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit!

As you die to self, and live for and abide in Christ, by nourishing your soul on the life-giving message of the Tree of the Cross in regular worship and daily devotions, your life will become an attractive produce aisle of the fruit of the Spirit. Thereby, inviting others to taste and see that the Lord is good!

And one other thing to keep in mind on living a fruitful life. The people that you find yourself blaming for your sins? It's no accident that God has allowed the people in your life. And He does this in order in order that you might be even more fruitful, as He conforms you to the image of His son. Not only those dear saints in your life who encourage inspire, and admonish you, but also people who get on your last nerves and try your faith, which compels you to cling even tighter to Jesus Christ, and not your sinful flesh.

As you cry out to God, "Lord help me deal with these people! For, I certainly can't do it on my own!", in order that the Holy Spirit may be allowed to work in you His fruit, no matter who you encounter in life and no matter what your situation.

Thereby, making you a living testimony of what a difference Jesus Christ can make in a person's life!

In His Fruitfulness!

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