Monday, February 28, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit

Have you ever wondered why God used the fruit to illustrate this particular topic? He could have used the Leaf of the Spirit or the Flower of the Spirit. Let me tell you what I know about the fruit from a horticultural point of view. I hope that it will lead us to understand the reason for the Fruit of the Spirit.

The Fruit is the ultimate outcome of growth and development. A plant that is well-rooted and properly nourished plant grows and eventually bears fruit. A plant that is unhealthy and nutritionally deficient does not bear fruit.  In like manner, only the healthy and growing Christian bears fruit. The apostle Paul described the concept of growing in his letter to the church in Colossae - “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” (Col. 1:9-12)

The Fruit is meant for others. The fruit is not for the one that bears it. A tree does not benefit from its fruit. The animals and the birds and humans are the ones that are attracted and fed by the fruits. Love, joy, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, peace, etc. are all meant to benefit others. They are not for us but those around us. The fruit of the spirit attracts others to us so that they would catch the seed - the same seed that we received through God's grace. Remember what God said to Adam and Eve before they were kicked out of Eden – “Go and multiply”. They were commanded to reproduce their kind. Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew (28:18-20) “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…” We are commanded to let others know what makes us the way we are. The fruit of the spirit is the appetizing color, fragrance, and sweetness that attract those who are hungry. The fruit of the spirit is the standing invitation for others to come and take shelter around us so that they too may receive the grace that we already received from Christ.

The Fruit bears the seed. The fruit is a seed carrier. We all enjoy the seedless fruits that we buy from the grocery stores because they are so easy to eat. But let me tell you – Seedless fruits are abnormal fruits. Seedless fruits are not performing what they are supposed to do in the natural sense of life. Their services end where the fruits are eaten or when they rot. God intended for the fruit to carry the possibility of a new life. Our life as Christians should bear the fruit that carries the seed of the knowledge of Christ.   In the eyes of God, the seeded fruit is more valuable than its seedless counterpart.

We live and the world watches us.  Our behavior and actions reveal that which controls us - the flesh or the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
 ~ Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love: Value-Changer

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

In our society we associate superiority with things like knowledge, faith, service, possessions and giftedness.  These are all great things to have because they provide us with a greater capacity to perform.  Performance matter and we see the reward we get from them as the end.  And yet based on these verses there is something very crucial in the process that makes all our endeavors and giftedness either count or not.   Love is the ingredient that makes our performances a pleasing music instead of annoying noise to God and those around us.

What is love anyway?  The love as mentioned in the verse above is not the emotion that causes you to give up everything you have in order to get what you desire.  For example I give flowers to my friend so that she'll think I'm a generous person.  To give in order to get something in return is love of self.   Love is giving up something that is of value to you for the pleasure and glorification of the one we love without conditions.  It is like changing the price tag of the one we love to be greater than the treasure that we are giving up. God is the perfect example of love.  When He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us, He pulled off our clearance-sale-tag (appropriate for detestable sinners) to a price tag that is greater than the value placed on His only Son with whom He is well-pleased.  Imagine sending your own son to die so that a murderous, moneyless and slandering pagan would be allowed to come live a good life with you in your own house.  God sacrificed His Son so that we, the peoples of the world would be saved and be qualified to partake of eternal life of joy and abundance with Him.  That is love.  Love is the thought that compels the heart to put self aside for the sake of holding someone in high regard.   That is what God meant when He said, "Love your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength... and love your neighbor as you love yourself." (Lk. 10:27) When we love we raise our brother's value over our comfort and security; in return love in our actions makes us of value in the eyes of the true judge - God.

We can have all the knowledge, faith, and works but if we do not have love we are nothing... It's time to rethink of love.