How Does Your Garden Grow?
June 25, 2018
How long have you known and walked with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Interestingly, God makes it clear in His Word that it’s not the years that matter, but the growth in godliness that is the fruit of those years.
You can ask yourself, Because I know and love the Lord, what difference has it made in my character, my life—even my personality? The change comes when we allow the Holy Spirit to take control, increasingly changing us to be more like Jesus Christ from the inside out.
We explore the book of Galatians on the broadcast this month, a book written to a people who needed to be reminded what the Christian life looks like when it’s oriented towards God.
Our teacher, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, gives us some practical help in our choices that transform our character.
So what is the fruit of walking with God? Let’s go straight to the orchard and examine the fruit that is in the life of the believer.
From Dr. J. Vernon McGee:
Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” -John 15:4, 5
If you were not raised in the country, you may not know that in every fruit orchard, there is always something else that tries to overcome the fruit. In nature, slugs and bugs and stinkweeds all attempt to crowd out the fruit. And in the life of the believer, there are always things that will attempt to crowd out the fruit of the Spirit. In other words, it’s quite possible that the weeds grow and the fruit will not be produced. Paul spoke of that very thing in Galatians 5:17—
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
The flesh wants to have its way and is actually in competition against the Holy Spirit. So there is a danger of producing something besides fruit. And that which the flesh produces is not something that God can use; it’s not fruit at all.
Paul himself experienced that struggle and described it in Romans 7:15:
For what I am doing [the new man wanted to produce fruit], I do not understand [the old nature would not do it].
You can be a child of God and be producing works of the flesh in your life, and if you are, you are not living by the Spirit of God. And I can tell you, if the works of the flesh are appearing in your life, you are a discontented and troublemaking child of God.
Paul was speaking to believers when he said:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. -Galatians 6:7-9
I personally believe that’s a law of God, just like the law of gravity. If a farmer sows corn, you can be sure that he’ll reap corn. If he sows wheat, he’ll reap wheat. My friend, as a believer, if you are sowing to the flesh, you “will of the flesh reap corruption.” There is no way around it.
Now, the child of God does not have to produce these things. We can produce the fruit of the Spirit. God has another principle:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. -Galatians 5:22, 23
You can’t produce these fruit by following the Law; in fact, there is not one of these lovely fruits that you can produce on your own. We are totally incapable; it can only be produced by the Holy Spirit. “For the fruit of the Spirit,” Paul says in Ephesians 5:9, “is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” You can know whether you are living by the flesh or living in the power, in the fullness, of the Holy Spirit by seeing if He is producing these fruits in your life.
“When I lived on the east coast in my younger years, there was a beautiful big maple tree in our backyard that would keep its leaves through the winter. The leaves were dead, but they still hung on to the branches. In the spring when the sap flowed, the new buds would finally push off the dead leaves. That’s what happens when the Spirit of God grows His life in us—He pushes the old habits out of our lives as our new life in Christ grows stronger. Rather than try to pick off all the dead leaves and try to grow new leaves ourselves, we need to focus instead on cultivating our relationship with God and let the Holy Spirit deal with all the dead leaves.” -J. Vernon McGee
More from Dr. McGee on the fruit of the Spirit:
Jesus said that those who abide in Him will bear much fruit. That fruit is more than ministry results, it is also the evidence of a life lived in God. Look over the list below of the characteristics of someone who increasingly looks like Christ. Read the passages and ask the Lord to show you how He is growing that character trait in you to show the world Jesus.
Godward character traits
Love—self-sacrificing affection for God and others 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 2:10
Joy—deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 1:8
Peace—inner quietness and tranquility regardless of circumstances Ephesians 2:14; Romans 8:6
Relational character traits
Patience—tolerance even under aggravation Colossians 1:11; Romans 2:4
Kindness—generosity and graciousness Colossians 3:12; Titus 3:4, 5
Goodness—moral uprightness; positively reaching out to others Romans 15:14; Ephesians 5:8, 9
Internal character traits
Faithfulness—reliability, trustworthiness Hebrews 3:2; Luke 16:10-12
Gentleness—submission to authority and consideration of others James 1:21; Titus 3:2
Self-control—ability to master oneself 2 Peter 1:5, 6; Acts 24:25