The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
fruits of the spirit
The Fruits of the Spirit
One Friday, after a long high school day, a young man named George, a freshman in high school, saw a fellow classmate named John walking home carrying all his books and supplies down the street and thought to himself: "What a strange kid. It's Friday, why is he bringing all his stuff home?"
As George looked on, from down the street he saw a bunch of other kids running toward John knocking all the books from his hands and shoved him into the dirt. His glasses went flying off into the grass.
As John sat up, a great sadness came over him as he looked about for his glasses.
Overwhelmed with pity, George jogged from across the street and found the glasses and helped the poor downtrodden kid up from the ground.
The boy gave George a smile that showed real gratitude.
As it turned out, both boys lived close to each other and became friends, and for the next four years were inseparable. Soon they began preparation for graduation and looking into colleges. John became valedictorian of his class and walked up to give his speech. As George looked on he thought back to the skinny, acne-riddled kid that he helped years before.
As John walked up to the stand, he cleared his throat and began to speak. He said that he was thankful for his parents and siblings, but he was most thankful for his friendship with George. He went on to say that friendship was truly a great gift that could not be replaced.
He went on to tell of the first day that he met George, that that day as he carried his books home, that he had cleared out his locker so that he would not burden his parents when, that night he planned to kill himself.
A gasp of disbelief went through the crowd as this young, handsome man recounted his story. John's parents looked as George with gratitude and surpassing joy.
It was not until that moment that George realized the depth of that day's events. That he had underestimated his actions that day, but to John, that small gesture of kindness saved his life.
This Epistle lesson teaches us about a valuable and underestimated idea. Saint Paul tells us of the "Fruits of the Spirit".
The imagery of the fruit is used throughout the scriptures from Genesis and the fall of mankind to the New Testament where "fruit" is mentioned as a benefit... a product... a gift of the Holy Spirit. Fruit, as we know, are used in our everyday lives. I could dare venture to say that not one person here has not at least eaten one piece of fruit. Fruits are used not only for a source of pleasure, but so many are used for an array of keeping your body healthy such as strawberries are a way to fight cancer or figs to lower cholesterol.
The same is true for the metaphorical "Fruits of the Spirit" explained to us in the fifth chapter of Galatians.
Saint Paul tells us that there are no laws written or held against love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
And, truly in the example above, that small act of kindness exhibited by George, literally saved the life of his best friend, John.
Let us recall the acts of those heroes of our church, such as St. Nicholas and his goodness; King David - who was called by God, a man after His own heart, whom exhibited faithfulness; our most holy Theotokos giving a true example of love and joy. Our lives are filled with so many examples of the "Fruits of the Spirit". Saint Paul tells us of the "Fruits" because he believed and knew that all of us hold a never ending basket full of these "Fruits" that we are to share with the world.
The Scripture and Traditions of the Church are constantly showing us examples of men and women who exhibit what it is to be Christ-like in their lives. But, for every "Fruit of the Spirit" that is to be shared with the world, the scriptures also tell us about those who have allowed their hearts to grow cold.
With all things is also the darker side of mankind. Saint Paul also tells us that the antithesis to the "Fruits" is those who lust after the flesh. Many people throughout the Scriptures follow after the flesh and Saint Paul continues by saying that those works of the flesh are evident by committing adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, and reveries and those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I want to bring your attention to two words from that reading. The first is the word "evident". In that word, it tells us that we can see the works of darkness in individuals, for the fruits they bear to the world brings suffering and opposes the "Fruits of the Spirit". The second word is "practice". As we all know that practice makes perfect, however, Saint Paul tells us that those individuals who practice doing those works of darkness constantly will not inherit the kingdom of God.
That is a very powerful statement. All mankind are called to be saints and our natural godly path is to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Now, I know we can look at the list above and tell ourselves that we do not do some of those things, but if any of us look at the list above and can honestly say that we do none of them, we are sadly mistaken.
We are not to practice any of those works of darkness, and we are not to horde the "Fruits of the Spirit". But so often, we do just that - don't we? We practice those works of darkness in our hearts and our lives and it is evident of the pain that we inflict onto others. Some of us cause strife and dissensions, some of us divide the churches, some of us divide families.
This fallen world is filled with evil and Satan rejoices in the fact that he spreads his message. A message of hatred, a message that completely undermines all that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ teaches us. I beseech you, my brothers and sisters, look within yourselves and open your hearts, for we are called to share our "Fruits of the Spirit" with the world.
Imagine if we looked to our neighbor and shared with him love instead of hatred. If we looked to our spouse and shared with them joy and happiness instead of committing adultery and being selfish. Imagine if we looked to that strange, weak, little boy across the street being bullied, extending a hand and a smile...we too, could be Jesus Christ to the world.
I call your remembrance as to what Jesus said - that all were his mother and father, his brothers and sisters.
And, the ultimate "Fruit of the Spirit" is Christ Himself. In our Lord, we find all the "Fruits of the Spirit" manifest and alive. For without Christ in our hearts, it is impossible to practice love and joy.
His long-suffering on the cross showed us what a true friend of sinners he was, and is, and ever will be. His gentleness is to be emulated to the weak and homeless and strangers. His self-control is to help us be faithful to our spouses, family, and friends. Saint Paul goes on to say that we who belong to Christ will crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.
We are to live in the Spirit and share the Fruit with the world, we are to walk in the spirit and let the Fruits be evident. And, while doing so, we are not be conceited or to envy one another.
We are called to be Jesus Christ to all in the world. We are called to be saints and to live our lives bearing one another's burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ, which is to love all. We are not alone in this world, we belong to an army of Christian soldiers, who when one us is wounded, we are to carry the to safety. When one of us is failing and sinning, we are to lift them in prayer and bring them back to the loving arms of Christ and His Church.
We are not called to be on the sidelines — we are too active. We are to reach down to those who have fallen into the dust and pull them up into our arms. We are called to reach out and give to the entire world the "Fruits of the Spirit" which we all have the capacity to give.
Remember, as I conclude this sermon, that the fruits of darkness are ours. By this I mean that all those things that are evil, we must willingly practice and have in our lives.
The darkness is not our natural state, for we were formed after God's image. The "Fruits of the Spirit" however, are not ours, for the "Fruits of the Spirit" are attributes of Christ, and through Him, we have the grace and strength to share them with the world.
We often do the works of God without even knowing so. I again recall your minds to George's act of kindness. When he ran over and pulled John from the dust, he was doing so with a Christ-like love, the Spirit within him that he allowed to work shared with John the life-giving fount of Christ's love and joy.
We have the "Fruits of the Spirit" dwelling within us freely, and we are called to share what God has bestowed upon us with the world. He is the only One that can show us true love, true joy and true happiness.
Without Him, we can do nothing.