So since today is our annual First Fruits Sunday here at High Point Church, it seemed good to me and to the Holy Ghost to wrap up our teaching on the Fruit of the Spirit on this particular Sunday. With that being said, my title for today’s summary & recap of this series is “The Last Fruits on First Fruits.”
Now I hope you all have gotten as much out of this series on the Fruit of the Spirit as I have. This series of teachings has caused me personally to look at these nine virtues known as the Fruit of the Spirit quite differently than I had before.
For one, I had never really seen these nine fruit as being the core nature of God Himself. But we have many Scriptures that back this up—because, for example, we know God is love, right (see First John 4:7)? He is also called both the “Prince of Peace” and the “God of Peace.” On top of that, we are constantly reminded in the Bible that God is good and He is faithful too. So, throughout the Bible we can find these nine virtues describing God Himself. Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit is essentially a call for us to imitate God in our hearts, actions and behavior. So, while most have essentially described the fruit of the Spirit as us simply displaying character in our lives, I now see these virtues as us basically producing God’s character in our lives.
This is huge, church—because I believe that once we begin to see God as love, joy, peace, etc., then we find the freedom to reflect these virtues in our lives. In other words, once we see God as this way, we can see ourselves becoming this way too! Therefore, beholding His fruit is how we can nurture the seed for those same fruit that we who have been born again already have on the inside of us.
And this has always been God’s plan for His creation, saints—to be fruitful and multiply in the paradise of His presence: Do you remember on the third day, after the Lord created the earth, what the Lord said? He said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:11-12). Here we see how God originally designed fruit to be produced:
And I want you to notice that, first of all, in order for the tree to yield fruit that it must be created as a fruit tree. For example, if the tree is not an apple tree, then what is it not going to produce? Apples! So, the first thing that had to transpire in order for you and I to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is to be recreated as a fruit-bearing tree. And we know that this occurred by the Holy Spirit when we called on the name of the Lord, were born again, and received the new nature we received through the Spirit washing, renewing and regenerating us (Titus 3:5).
So, the Lord created things so that a fruit tree will yield its fruit, but notice that it yields fruit “according to its kind.” I like how the New Living Translation says this. It says, “from which they came.” In other words, a fruit tree is only going to produce the fruit, and the seed in that fruit, from the seed from which they came.
So, the reason it is called the fruit of the Spirit is because it is fruit that is according to His kind, or you could say, it is the fruit that came directly from the seed of the Spirit.
And that is exactly how I defined the Fruit of the Spirit: It is the fruit of a spiritually alive and Spirit-empowered life. That means that it is what is produced in our lives both from what we have in our recreated spirit when we got saved (i.e. the fruit of our spirit) and from what the Holy Spirit helps us to produce (i.e. the fruit of the Holy Spirit). And both of these truths work together to see more fruit in our lives—for we had to be born of the Spirit to be capable to produce His fruit and we also need His help in producing it as well.
So, what I want to do in this, the “last fruits” of our teaching on the Fruit of the Spirit is go back through each of these nine virtues and briefly touch on some of the highlights of what they are and how we can see them produced in our lives:
Now these nine virtues are, of course, listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as “… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …” (Galatians 5:22-23).
First of all, I made the point as we went through these nine fruit that the order that Paul listed them in is significant: For example, and understandably so, love is mentioned first in his list. Why? Well, because God’s core nature is agape. Therefore, like God is at the top of the food chain, love should certainly be at the top of the fruit chain. Also, Jesus called love—both our love for God and our love for our neighbor—the greatest of all the commandments. And Jesus then gave us a new commandment that was a whole new standard of love—loving one another as He has loved us. So, love certainly deserves to be the first in Paul’s list.
But love also might be first because it is the meant to be the first virtue produced in the life of a born again, Spirit-filled Christian. You see, the Bible is explicit that our love for one another is how we know that we have passed from death unto life (First John 3:14). It is also how the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35). So, you could say that love is how both we ourselves and the world around us will know that we are Christians.
So, I don’t think I need to belabor this point any more that love is the greatest of all these fruit. Amen?
But we also learned that by walking in this love, it will organically yield in our lives the other fruit as well. For example, joy and peace then become a natural by-product of the love we are producing. I’ll tell you—you show me someone who loves well and I’ll show you someone who also produces some joy and peace in their lives. Amen?
So, my point is, these fruit play off one another in many respects. But do you remember how I made the point that the lower third of these nine manifestations of the Spirit are probably the last three virtues most Christians desire in their lives—faithfulness, humility (i.e. meekness), and self-control? Yes, I’m sure if we were to poll a hundred-plus Christians and asked them to honestly rank these nine Fruit of the Spirit, that these three would be at the bottom of the totem pole.
But I made the point that the fruit of the Spirit are like our spiritual muscles, and like it is with most body-builders, the tendency is to only focus on developing the upper third of their body. In other words, these gym rats like to work on their chest, shoulders and arms, but they don’t work on their thighs and calves. This should not be so for us, spiritually-speaking. We need to not just focus on the upper half of Paul’s list—desiring more love, joy and peace. No, we need to pursue being more faithful, humble and self-controlled in our lives like we would being more loving, joyful and peaceful.
So, my point is that Paul’s order of these fruit shows us some important truths about all of the fruit’s importance in our lives.
So now, as promised, let’s briefly go back through each of the nine fruit of the Spirit in order to see what they are and how to see them produced in our lives:
Church, fruit in our lives is what the Lord is after. I would say that it is ultimate goal of God for each and every one of us. In fact, this Greek word for “fruit” in Galatians 5:22 is used 66 times in New Testament. What makes that number significant, you ask? Well, we have 66 books in the Bible. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that the entire Word of God is geared around “fruit”—showing us God’s fruit and teaching us to bear fruit according to His own kind.
And today is the fulfillment of all that we have been talking about over the past two or three months—for the purpose of First Fruits Sunday is to give everyone an opportunity to be even more fruitful by showing God’s love, goodness, kindness, etc. to your church family. In fact, it is essentially the same as what many people around the world are doing this week, where they are joining gyms and resolving to get back in shape for this coming year. Well, that is what today could be viewed as—for some of us it is us going to our spiritual gym for the first time in a while and exercising our spiritual muscles.
But like we might say to the person who has made it their New Year’s resolution to start exercising, one quick word of encouragement: Don’t just make this a once-a-year event in your life. Live a lifestyle of blessing those around you—purposefully and intentionally thinking of ways to bear fruit towards those you come in contact with. This is the way to joy, the way of peace, and most importantly how to give glory to your Father! Amen and amen!