Pests—bugs and rodents—even the thought of them makes our skin crawl. But pests find their way into everyone’s home at one time or another. The question is, do we hate these pests enough to do what it takes to get rid of them? One survey says that depends on what sort of pest is in the house. Researchers found that people will dish out their hard earned money for an exterminator—meaning they are really serious about getting results—when the following pests are in their home:
Twenty-four percent of adults—that’s one in four—will pay an exterminator to kill spiders.
Roughly the same number, 27 percent of adults, will pay to annihilate ants.
With the next pest the percentage jumps to just over half, as 56 percent will pay to banish bedbugs.
The same percentage, 56 percent, will pay to get rid of rodents. (That’s mice and rats. This is getting creepier and creepier!).
Fifty-eight percent will pay to kill cockroaches. (Maximum creepy!)
And then the number jumps again when we talk about the bug that can bring the house down: termites. Eighty-seven percent of adults—that’s 9 out of 10—will pay to terminate termites.
Notice that except for termites, almost half of adults will live with some very unpleasant creatures rather than pay a professional to ensure the pests are eradicated. This survey also showed that many people are willing to endure a certain kind of pest, but not others.
Take that concept to a spiritual dimension and the same thing holds true. Many people are willing to live—or feel they have to live—with spiritual ants, spiritual spiders, spiritual bedbugs, spiritual cockroaches, spiritual mice, spiritual rats, or spiritual termites. Some sins we tolerate in ourselves; others we won’t.
Why do we do this?
As Christians we are called to walk in the Spirit. We are called to live by the Spirit and we know this by checking to see if we have the fruit of the Spirit.
Today, my theme is that we pray that we and our descendants will have the fruit of the Spirit.
[Bring up a house plant with an apply in it or hanging from it.] What is wrong with this picture? Apples don’t grow on house plants, do they? No.
Likewise, Jesus produces fruit.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:16
We are known by the fruit that we produce. The Holy Spirit produces fruit.
- Christians have different fruit.
- The fruits of the world are in Galatians 5:19-21: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, cdisputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- In his bookThe Obedience Option, David Hegg illustrates what he calls “overwhelming faith.” Hegg was talking to a young man who claimed that he couldn’t stop his pattern of sleeping with different women. The young man knew it was wrong, but he also claimed that his sexual lust was inevitable. Therefore, it wasn’t his fault, especially since God had created him with such strong desires and urges. Finally, Hegg interrupted the young man and said, “Suppose that I came into your room and caught you and your girlfriend as you were just starting this ‘inevitable’ process.” Suppose I took out ten one-hundred-dollar bills, and told you that they were yours if you [stopped]. What would you do?” When the young man quickly said that he’d rather have the cash, Hegg asked, “So what happened to the irresistible force of lust?” Then Hegg concluded: We both realized a very simple truth: one passion may seem irresistible until a greater passion comes along …. If we take this principle into the arena of righteous living, it comes out like this: the only way to overcome a passion for sin is with an overwhelming passion for righteousness. This overwhelming passion for righteousness is actually a mindset that the Bible calls faith. Here is a helpful definition of this kind of overwhelming faith: Faith is a life-dominating conviction that all God has for me through obedience is better by far than anything Satan can offer me through selfishness and sin.
- We need to let the Holy Spirit in and let God’s ways push out the ways of the world.
- We are not going to talk about the fruit of the world today but know that there is a major contrast between Jesus’ people and the world. That list includes who we are without Christ. People with these characteristics do not go to Heaven. They can’t, this fruit is against God. This means we must be different.
- We get rid of darkness by letting light in. We get rid of sin, by letting the Holy Spirit in.
- The fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
- We are going to talk about these.
- Living this way makes us a witness.
- The idea of “putting on” certain fruits is used more often in the New Testament (Col 3:12.)
- Notice it says the “fruit” of the Spirit. This is singular. The Holy Spirit produces one fruit and it consists of these nouns: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit is singular otherwise it would say “are” as in “Fruits are,” we can’t say, “fruits ‘is.’ No, it is one fruit that the Holy Spirit gives us.
- Many have written that it could say, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” This love is defined by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let’s break them down with “mental or God-ward qualities, interpersonal or other-ward qualities and general or self-ward qualities.
- Mental or God-ward qualities (v. 22)
- “Love” (agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
- “Joy” (chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
- “Peace” (inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)
- Interpersonal or other-ward qualities (v. 22)
- “Patience” (forbearance even under provocation)
- “Kindness” (benevolence and graciousness)
- “Goodness” (constructive action reaching out to others)
- General or self-ward qualities (vv. 22-23)
- “Faithfulness” (reliability, trustworthiness)
- “Gentleness” (acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
- “Self-control” (ability to master oneself)
- Let’s take a moment to apply:
- One writes: My five-year-old daughter, Barbara, had disobeyed me and had been sent to her room. After a few minutes, I went in to talk with her about what she had done. Teary-eyed, she asked, “Why do we do wrong things, Mommy?” “Sometimes the devil tells us to do something wrong,” I replied, “and we listen to him. We need to listen to God instead. To which she sobbed, “But God doesn’t talk loud enough!“
- We all mess up. We will all be lacking in the Holy Spirit’s work one day. We will be lacking in one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit someday. Simply own up to it and apologize. Simply tell someone that you were unloving in a comment. Acknowledge to yourself that you are lacking joy. Acknowledge and ask God to help you with peace.
- We all lack on at least a few aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. It could be patience, it could be self-control, it could be goodness, it could be faithfulness or you name it.
- Imagine the witness if Christians were more gentle.
- Imagine the witness of Christians were known as those having self-control. Imagine if people thought of us as not those that are flying off the handle and ready to blow. Imagine if people knew Christians had power under control. Imagine the witness if Christians had more control in eating alone. Think about self-control.
- Remember the Lays potato chip commercial that used to say, “You can’t eat just one!” We need self-control with our eating and I don’t know if that is as bad of a witness as a lack of self-control with our temper or with our sexual appetites. But we need self-control. Trust me, I can lose my temper as quickly as you can, I can eat as many dips of ice cream as you can. I am working on this, I am praying about this.
- Imagine the witness if Christians were known as kind.
- Imagine if Christians were known as faithful. We need to be faithful to God and to others. Imagine if we were known as faithful to our family.
- I was listening to a series of podcasts called “Presidential.” I am listening on my phone. They are made by the Washington Post. Turns out Warren Harding had an affair, actually many of them. Many, many years after his death many love letters were found. The family released them, I think to the Library of Congress, as long as they weren’t public for something like fifty years. I don’t know whether or not he was a Christian but imagine if Christians were known as faithful.
- What a witness is a Christian dad who is faithful to his wife and his children.
- What a witness is a Christian mom who is faithful. I was listening to someone who wrote a book which included information about the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. She was not faithful, she ran off on her husband many, many times. Despite her unfaithfulness, her husband remained faithful.
- What a witness Christians can be when the fruit of the Spirit reigns in our life.
- Imagine the witness.
- People will ask us why we are different.
- Maybe you already get this. Maybe you are different, and people have asked.
- But we can always grow.
- Funny thing about fruit, though, it only takes one bad fruit to ruin others. One Christian who cheats on his wife does more damage than 10 faithful Christians.
- Okay, so, don’t diminish the witness that your lifestyle can be.
- You are a witness when you strive to love like Jesus.
Henri Nouwen once said in a Leadership journal interview:
I cannot continuously say no to this or no to that, unless there is something ten times more attractive to choose. Saying no to my lust, my greed, my needs, and the world’s powers takes an enormous amount of energy. The only hope is to find something so obviously real and attractive that I can devote all my energies to saying yes. One such thing I can say yes to is when I come in touch with the fact that I am loved. Once I have found that in my total brokenness I am still loved, I become free from the compulsion of doing successful things.
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, it seems to me, largely fruits of sustained interaction with God. Just as a child picks up traits more or less simply by dwelling in the presence of her parent, so the Christian develops tenderheartedness, compassion, humility, forgiveness, joy, and hope through “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”–that is, by dwelling in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And this means, to a very large extent, living in a community of serious believers.
One person writes:
On a recent visit to two California vineyards, author Margaret Feinberg discovered that vintners must adopt a long-term approach to their work. According to Feinberg:
The first year a vintner plants shoots of vines rather than seeds because these yield the strongest vines. At the end of the first growing season, he cuts them back. A second year passes. He cuts them back again. Only after the third year does he see his first viable clusters of grapes. Serious vintners leave those clusters on the vines. For most vintners, it’s not until year four that they bring in their first harvest.
For those growing grapes for winemaking, they’ll bottle their harvest, but won’t taste the fruit of their labors until year seven or eight. Most vineyards in Napa Valley won’t reach a breakeven point for their investment until year fifteen, eighteen or beyond.
Applying these insights to her spiritual life, Feinberg writes,
Sometimes I look at my own life and wonder, Why am I not more fruitful? And why does pruning have to hurt so much? Why does cultivating a healthy crop take so long? Yet those questions circle around the here and now. God’s perspective is much different. Like a good vineyard owner, he knows how to bring about fruitfulness better than I ever will. And he is patient with me, more patient than I am with myself … [Also], as we fulfill our callings … we must recognize that like the vintner’s, our fruitfulness will not come overnight. The first harvest of our labors may not come for three or five years.
We are in process God is working on us as long as we let Him.
You are a witness in living like Jesus.
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com; source: Anne R. Carey and Keith Simmons, “Calling the Exterminators: Critters that bug us most,” USA Today Snapshots (May 22-25), 1A; based on survey of 1,253 adults by Global Strategy Group for Orkin
2Lit They do not gather
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 7:16.
cRom 2:8; James 3:14ff
Jo M. Guerrero, Christian Reader (Sep/Oct 1996)
Terry Muck, “Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying His Word,” Leadership Journal (Winter 1982), p. 16
Robert C. Roberts in The Reformed Journal (Feb. 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 10.