Fruit of the Spirit – Love (Sermon Series)

Fruit of the Spirit - Love

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (Galatians 5:22-23)

I love fruit! And my favorite way to eat fruit is (of course) in the form of dessert. One of my favorite desserts is strawberry shortcake. I really like strawberries on angel food cake, but I think the best is the way I grew up eating it — on bisquick shortcakes. My other favorite fruit and dessert is blackberry pie.

That’s one of the best things about summer — all of the great fruit that is in season.

And so while we are enjoying the sweetness of fresh fruit through the rest of the summer, we are going to talk about the fruit of the Spirit that God intends for us to taste and experience and share in community and in all of our relationships.

The passage about the Fruit of the Spirit actually comes in a larger exhortation about Christian Freedom: For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

For Paul, freedom was about being set free to live an abundant life – a life of love for others, not because we have to, but because we choose to. One writer says “Christianity is not a constricting undergarment. Instead, it is an invitation to freedom from the pulls of corrupted character.”

In Paul’s final verses in chapter 5 (24-26) he writes, And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. He tells his hearers that they are Christ’s and with Christ they have crucified the flesh. That dimension of life no longer has power – even though it pretends to. They now belong to someone whose love can change everything.

In the animated movie, ‘Despicable Me’, Gru is a criminal mastermind and supervillain who has his pride injured when another unknown supervillain steals the Great Pyramid of Giza, making all other villains look lame. Gru decides to do better and seeks to acquire a shrink ray in order to steal the moon. In order to steal the shrink ray, he pretends to be a dentist and adopts three orphan girls so they can sneak onto the base as girls scouts selling cookies, allowing him access to get the shrink ray.

However, as soon as he gets the girls, Gru has difficulty getting them ready for the heist because they are rambunctious,busy with ballet classes, and just busy being kids. Eventually they manage to steal the shrink ray, and then he thinks he will leave them at a theme park, but they spend the day together and he finds himself being incredibly warmed by their presence.

He ends up treating the girls he adopted as his daughters, and we watched a brief clip showing him reading a bed time story he wrote about how three little girls changed his heart.

One critic describes the movie this way: “Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad.”

In the end, their love profoundly changes him for the better.

In John 15, Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

Paul wants us to embrace our freedom to live for others, just as God, in Jesus Christ, lived for us. The fruit of the Spirit is not a set of laws or practices achieved through our own efforts – they are rather the consequence of hanging out so closely with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first fruit, love, is one that pretty much sums up the whole bible, and some have written that all the other fruits flow from this one. Love is an interesting thing, often we think of it as an emotion. We feel love or we don’t feel love. We fall in love and we fall out of love. I appreciate one of the well-known quotes from the movie, Forrest Gump: “My Mama always said stupid is as stupid does.” Perhaps the verses from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 about Love can summed up similarly: Love is as love does:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love, afterall, is not only an emotion or a fruit, it’s a commandment that we are to follow. It’s what we are to do….Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.

The three little orphaned girls in the movie Despicable Me saw something no one else could ever see in the supervillian Gru: a potential Dad.

What potential does God see in you, that no one else sees?

The longer Gru was in the presence of the three little girls – the more loving he became.

What or who is shaping the fruit you share with the world?

This coming Sunday, we will be looking a the next fruit: Joy! We will have some magnets with Galatians 5:22-23 printed on them to send home with everyone. I hope you will begin to memorize this passage as we seek to stay connected to the vine and allow our lives to produce the fruit of the spirit. If you want, you can eat an apple to get ready for this week’s fruit!

Blessings and grace,
Pastor Karen