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Wednesday-A Big But


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


Galatians 5:22,23


The word “but” is a funny thing. It’s used in the middle to separate and compare two things or lists. It sits in the middle, telling you that there’s a big difference between what was said before and after. The words on the left of the but are not the same as the words on the right.


We’ve just looked at the acts of the flesh. These works are just that; acts. They are human attempts to satisfy themselves. It lists what happens when we try to live life on our own. That list are the results when we try and self-medicate ourselves.


The fruit of God’s Spirit starts out with a but for some really good reasons.


  • Work vs. Gift – The acts of the flesh are just that; our attempts to satisfy and please ourselves. It’s all about the stuff that bring temporary pleasure and satisfaction. It’s no accident they are called “the passing pleasures of sin[1].”The but tells us that there is a tremendous difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. It’s not about our efforts but about his gift. In Jesus, God has already blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ[2].What could be more different than work and gift? They are on opposite ends of the universe. They have nothing in common with one another. But there is something even more different.

  • Work vs. Fruit – When we work, we get what we deserve. We get what we’ve earned. Our paycheck only has the money that we’ve earned. You only get vegetables in your garden if you first planted them.But the fruit of the Spirit comes from having God the Holy Spirit living in us. It’s his power and person that grows these things so that they develop and mature into his fruit.And the purpose of fruit isn’t to look at on a tree or in a bowl. No, fruit is proof of life. It’s what naturally happens when something living is growing, maturing, getting stronger.And fruit is never forced. You never see a tomato plant straining and moaning, trying to push out more fruit. Producing tomatoes is in its DNA. It’s completely natural and part of daily living.Fruit also wasn’t made to just sit there, complaining about growing and getting bigger. Fruit has a purpose to be pleasing to sight and smell. Fruit gives nourishment and refreshment.


And now, one other part of this big but that most people miss. These are not the fruits of the Spirit; they are the fruit of the Spirit. Did you see the difference? Look again.


There is one fruit of the Spirit, not many fruits. They are all different parts of the same fruit. If you have lots of love, you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit. You only have a part of it. You can have all the self-control in the world, but if you don’t have the other eight parts, you really don’t have the whole thing.


Think of the nine as sections of an orange. Look inside any orange and you’ll find different pieces. Yes, each section, or carpel, is great on its own, but it’s not an orange. It’s only a part of the whole. You never have an orange when you just have a part.


The same is true with fruit of the Spirit. God’s plan is to produce his fruit inside of you. And that means that all nine parts have to be growing to maturity.


If you only have one or two, it’s not really good fruit. It’s lopsided. It’s not balanced. It’s not mature. It looks funny. It’s not how God made it. It’s not how God wants us to live.


When you look at the works of the flesh, they turn your stomach. And so they should. The sight, sound, and smell of these things are so unpleasant and offensive. They come when we turn ourselves over to evil.


But the fruit of the Spirit is so attractive. So inviting. So pleasing. As his fruit grows and matures inside of us, you can’t hide it. You don’t want to hide it. You want to humbly share it with everyone and everyone.


So, how’s your fruit doing? What parts of his fruit of the Spirit are growing? And what parts aren’t doing all that well? Where does God want to do some gardening with you to nourish and grow you? And where might he want to do some trimming, cutting off branches that are just sucking the life out of you?


He wants to take us to a new and exciting way of living, but we have to be willing to go forward, leaving the past behind. It's time to let God be God. Allowing him to insert a “but” between our old way of thinking and living.

[1] Hebrews 11:25

[2] Ephesians 1:3


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