Sixth Sunday After Pentecost
July 16, 2017
“Fruit of the Spirit”
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Text: Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Not long ago, a seasoned marathoner had just crossed the finish line with an impressive time, when he suffered a heart attack and died. From the outside, he looked to be the picture of health, but a fatal condition was hiding on the inside. Every one of us needs a visit to the doctor to make sure everything is working alright and that we don’t have an unknown, serious, internal condition. The same is true with our spiritual lives. Our nature is to be creatures of habit, we tend to go through life on autopilot. We can easily get off the path Jesus has shown us, resulting in our spirit, not enjoying, the good health that God created IT for. John 10:10 Jesus Said “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. In the same way that the doctor evaluates us to diagnose potential physical problems, God has given us a process of evaluating spiritual problems in our lives: Our Text, Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control.
Each of these is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s active presence in our daily activities.
So, in today’s sermon we are doing a Spiritual checkup… and it won’t involve a needle. Jesus asked his Disciples questions all the time to help them think and learn and change… To get them on the right path.
- Love. This word for love doesn’t refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate response of good will and devotion to others. Who has heard of the saying “Love is as Love does” (show of hands).
This is the BIG one. This is the definition of God! and therefore, the defining attribute of his followers. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back.
Question: Am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or do I giving out of responsibility or guilt?
- Joy. Unlike happiness, joy is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of a day.
In fact, joy denotes a supernatural gladness given by God’s Spirit that actually shows up during hard times. This is a product of fixing your focus on God’s promises (Faith). By focusing on His promises, we are able to see past some of the misery of life. Joy comes from daily taking time to be grateful. Joy comes from counting your blessings. As Luther said “Christianity = Gratitude”.
Question: Am I experiencing the joy of life on a regular basis, or is my happiness dependent on things going smoothly in my day?
- Peace. It’s not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. True Peace is a sense of wholeness and completeness, knowing that God is in control.
It is the Lutheran Theology of the Cross! (Jesus suffering and death were part of God’s plan)…Lutherans should be nailing this one.
Question: Am I frazzled, anxious, worried, by the crashing waves of turmoil and uncertainty in my life, or am I experiencing “the peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7)?
- Patience. Patience is the ability to endure ill treatment from life or at the hands of others, without lashing out or paying back.
Patience is the “turn the other cheek” that Jesus taught. Now if you tell me you have mastered this one, than I need to observe you driving in traffic.
Question: Am I easily set off when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a Godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations?
- Kindness. When kindness is at work in your life, you look for ways to adapt, to meet the needs of others.
Kindness is moral goodness that is put into action. Kindness is also the absence of thoughts of judgement or superiority. Meaning it comes from the heart…Kindness comes out of Love.
Question: Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires, or problems to let the goodness of God overflow to others?
SO… we hit the top five that most of you memorize, I challenge you to memorize the next 4 also.
- Goodness. We already said kindness is Goodness in action. Goodness reflects the character of God.
Goodness in you, desires to see goodness (to see worth) in others. We humans are deeply tribal. Studies show that babies are much more agitated by faces that don’t look like their parents of family. Tribalism cousin is nationalism and excessive nationalism is racism… the belief that you tribe is better… that God likes your tribe more. Goodness come from understand that everyone you meet, the entire world, in made up of God’s children (your brothers and sisters).
Question: Does my life reflect the love of God; do I see strangers as my brothers and sisters and do I desire to have them know Jesus?
- Faithfulness. Now don’t get this confused with Faith in God. A faithful person is one with real integrity. The best definition I have heard for integrity is, “you take time to consider how your actions will impact others”.
He or she is someone others can look to as an example, someone you can count on, someone who is truly devoted to others as Christ was.
Question: Do I think about the needs of other’s? How much of my time is self-centered? Am I indifferent toward others in my life, or is my life characterized by faith in Christ which is manifested in faithfulness to those around me?
- Gentleness or Meekness. Meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others.
Meekness genuinely cares about how the other person is doing. As Stephen Covey says in 7 habits of highly effective people, “seek to understand”. Meekness comes thru listening (God gave you two ears and one mouth).
Gentleness forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility.
Question: Do I come across to others as brash and headstrong, is my purpose in conversations only to get my point out or do I desire to learn from others and by this allow the Grace of God to flow through me?
- Self-control. Scripture tells us our natural desires, are continually at odds with the previous 8 gifts. At odds with God’s Spirit.
Self-control is literally releasing our grip on our fleshly desires (what we want) & choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Self-control has the power to transform your life and allow you to receive the other Gifts. The word Sin actually means missing the target. It is fitting that self-control is the last fruit, because responding to this message requires self-control. As Paul says “I know what I should do but don’t”. Look at this list, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… If the Holy Spirit telling you that you need more of them in your Life… Then (suggest hanging the insert on fridge or BB) Without self-control, you have little chance to achieve any of them.
So, there they are. How do you feel? You and God are the only one who knows your answers from today spiritual checkup.
So how important are these Gifts? I used to think that these are just some goals for Christians to work on, but listen to these words: 2 Cor 3:17 where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We are enslaved until we experience these fruits.
Romans 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Paul is saying this is a choice between life and death.
John 4:23 Jesus said…But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”Jesus says that the FOS are how God is to be worshiped! And…FOS are what Gods Kingdom is all about… it is the best definition I have found. Jesus said seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will fall into place. Today we will pray “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven”. Do we really mean that, now… today? You know you need these Gifts… but more important this suffering broken world needs us to have these Gifts. If someone asks me what heaven will be like…I would respond, there are many opinions about what the place is like, but I would respond with confidence that I know what the people will be like. They will be filled with the FOS and what a Glorious place that will be.
One Final Thought … A doctor can tell you after your checkup that you need to make changes because of a condition that was found. Sin is our condition, Sin is missing Gods path… What next? One simple word…Follow. When we follow the Spirit’s lead instead of being led by our self-focused desires, He produces the fruit. But even when we don’t walk by the Spirit, He is the very one who convicts us that things are not in proper order in our lives.
We cling to the GOSPEL…Gods promises that if we are willing to admit that we have been walking our own way & ask for His forgiveness, then because of Jesus death and resurrection we are saved. We are cleansed, we are forgiven, we are considered God’s own children all by the work of Jesus Christ. But after that … there is so much more…. God promises to empower us through the Holy Spirit to live above ourselves repeat, to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. AMEN