Fruits Of The Spirit Only Possible Through The VINE
Thomas E. Trask and Wayde I. Goodall write,
“As any vineyard or orchard owner knows, dried up, dead branches do not produce fruit, for the branches are unable to receive nourishment from the vine. If the branches are healthy and properly connected to the vine, however, so that nutrients can flow through them, they will produce fruit as healthy as the vine to which they are attached. Likewise, we will produce the kind of fruit that pleases God if we are connected to his Son. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5). When our lives are totally committed to God and we are determined to obey him, we will bear the fruit of Christ because he is the Vine! We cannot help bearing all the fruit of the Spirit when we remain in him.”
The spiritual disciplines of prayer, study (both biblical and devotional), meditation, solitude, silence, fasting, and vigil keeping, lead to a greater outpouring of the “fruits of the Spirit” in one’s life. As part of the journey my wife and I are traveling, it is our hope that the “fruits of the Spirit” will become more striking in our lives as we “gaze on the Son” and “drink deep draughts of God.”
This morning, my wife and I took two “fruits of the Spirit” assessments to see which “fruits of the Spirit” were most prominent and which ones might use some work. The first “Fruit of the Spirit Inventory” was created by Richard F. Houts, which has been taught and field tested. The inventory is distributed by the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. The second was a “Fruits of the Spirit Personal Assessment” developed by Epikos Church in Vancouver, Washington.
We will take these two assessments again at the end of our ten-week journey to note any changes.
It was interesting, in my case, that the two assessments contradicted each other. On one assessment joy scored highest while on another joy scored lowest. On one self-control scored lowest while on another self-control scored highest. Meanwhile, my wife’s experience was less contradictory, lifting up patience, faithfulness, humility and love as the fruits she displays most often, and goodness, gentleness and self-control as areas that could be improved.
Remember, we find the “fruits of the Spirit” listed in Galatians 5: 22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (NIV). These “fruits” are “the opposite of the destructiveness of the flesh (self-centeredness),” according to John Fenton. He writes, “They (the “fruits of the Spirit”) are the result of God’s Spirit, who brings unity out of people who would otherwise be divisive, and creates fellowship among those who might seek their own advantage. We all agree that the Spirit is the life of the church. Therefore, we must be in line with the Spirit, seeking unity with others, allowing the Spirit to produce his fruit in us.”
Thus, we have to be connected to the vine. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15: 5-8, NIV).
All of us have areas we need to work on. All of us, at times, end up displaying “rotten fruit,” instead of the “fruits of the Spirit” as our “self” battles for control. We must give God control by connecting to the “vine,” and we connect to the “vine” through spiritual disciplines.
It is very exciting knowing that God is ready to enter our lives and fill us with His Spirit, making us more Christ-like, allowing us to experience His “peace that surpasses all understanding.” It is also very exciting knowing that as people see the “fruits of the Spirit” displayed in our lives, they will be attracted to that which shines from within us…they will be attracted to Christ.