We must apologise that, for technical reasons, there will be no podcast of this service.
We trust we will have a solution by next Sunday.
Fruits of the Gifts of the Spirit
1Corinthinians 13 & Galatians 5:16-26
Lord, may the Spirit of Christ endow us with insight and wisdom what will flower and fruit in us to produce new realities to our daily living.
St. Francis of Assisi told the story of how the power of Jesus’ Spirit changed him.
“I remember the first victory of my new heart. All my life I panicked when I met lepers. Then one day on the road below Assisi, I did one of those surprising things that only the power of Jesus’ Spirit could explain. I reached out and touched a leper, a man the very sight of whom nauseated me. I felt my knees playing tricks on me, and I was afraid I would not make it to the leper.
The smell of rotting flesh attacked my senses – as if I were smelling with eyes and ears as well as nose. Tears began to slide down my cheeks because I thought I would not be able to do it. Then, as I began to lose my composure, I grabbed the man’s hand and kissed it. In doing so, I received more than I gave. In finding that leper I found Christ.”
Frances displayed something of the fruit of the Spirit – indeed he shows us what it is to live a Spirit-filled life, as mirrored by Jesus and as described in Romans, through encouraging others and in the serving, and contributing to the needs of others.
The fruit we produce emanates purely and simply from an ‘agape’ love as shown by Francis, in our previous example, and is powerfully mirrored in our first reading from this morning in 1 Corinthians 13.
This ‘agape’ fruit is a God-like love. That is, it is not self-possessive or self-centred, but rather it is self-giving and directed outwards towards others. This love is not a perishable fruit or something to be put in cold storage, instead, as we read in John 15:16, it is ‘fruit that will last.’
‘Agape’ love is not an object or thing – it is the ‘action’. This fruit moves us in the direction of others, yet calls us to rely upon the Spirit’s help to apply it. That is, we must first be reminded that our Saviour Jesus nailed our sins to the cross, then let go of those sins in order to become true imitators of Christ [Ephesians 5:1]. And thus [Ephesians 5:11], our love actions do not remain ‘the fruitless deeds of darkness’. There is no doubt that Spirit, fruit and love are inextricably linked and this is further elaborated by Paul in the second reading from Galatians 5.
The list Paul puts together here to show the nine fruits of the gifts of the Spirit, in some ways, can be paralleled or blended to stand beside the nine spiritual gifts he lists in 1 Corinthians 12. What we see is that the gifts, if performed in a ‘right spirit’ have a corresponding ‘attitudinal’ outcome or fruit on the person who utilizes that gift.
The first gift he lists in 1 Corinthians 12 is the gift of wisdom. This ‘wisdom’ is a disclosure by the Holy Spirit, to a disciple, the mind and purpose of God as it applies in a specific situation.
Secondly, the gift of a ‘word of knowledge’ is the supernatural revelation of information about a specific event or an immediate need. A word of knowledge should always be received in the fruit that is ‘joy’ – the joy of knowing that God even can use us as his hands and feet.
The third gift, Pauls lists, is the gift of faith. This is a faith that has a special and deep outpouring beyond human limits – and often leads to the release of a miracle. The third fruit Paul lists is ‘peace’. Peace
This is a faith that has a special and deep outpouring beyond human limits – and often leads to the release of a miracle. The third fruit Paul lists is ‘peace’. Peace
The fourth gift is listed as ‘healings’. In this, God performs, through his follower, acts that bring change, transformation and restoration to one another.
Patience is the fourth fruit and very apt here – for healing may take time and sometimes a long time before it is effected.
The fifth gift is listed as the working of miracles. This is where someone is given a divine power to perform something that could not have been done naturally or through the natural laws of science.
When Jesus performed his miracles in and for people – he did so because of the fruit of his compassion and kindness.
In verse 10, Paul says, the sixth gift is that of prophecy. This is the ability to supernaturally discern and disclose, a Spirit-inspired insight to people, in order to challenge them, change them and ultimately build the body of Christ.
The effective prophet is one who works in a framework of generosity, decency and righteousness or what Paul calls the fruit of ‘goodness’.
The seventh gift is ‘the discernment of ‘spirits’. This is the capability to detect the true Spirit behind the acts, manifestations and motivations of those around us. It is linked with understanding the good and evil that exists around us and in people.
The fruit of faithfulness anchors the recipient in the faith for being true only to our Lord and the acts of the Holy Spirit.
The 8th gift is that of tongues and is the supernatural ability to pray, sing or communicate in a foreign or heavenly language. It sometimes comes as we learn to rest fully in the Lord. Sometimes there is a specific message through it if others are present [and if there is an interpreter present]. It has long been associated with the fruit of peace and surrender or what Paul refers to in Galatians as ‘gentleness’.
Obviously, the interpreter has to keep their own thoughts and words at bay and thus the Pauline fruit of ‘self-control’ must be exercised.
Rev.Robert Hillman – a UCA minister – in his book on Spiritual Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit, says that in churches where gifts are accepted and exercised and where the fruits of love, joy, gentleness, etc are manifest, the following changes have been noted in congregations. There is a new love of scripture, there is a greater desire and ability to serve the Lord, there is a stronger faith to claim God’s purposes, there is an emergence and developing of latent gifts, there is new life in singing old hymns and songs of praise and enjoyment in worship, there is a greater joy and desire to praise God. There is a profound awareness of God’s forgiveness, there is a wave of prayer being answered in new ways and more often and there is a deeper desire to serve God in the community.
Alternatively, the Bible is peppered with warnings to those followers who don’t use their gifts or fail to practise those gifts in the right attitude or faithfulness. In John 15:1-4, for instance, we are told that every branch that does not remain in God or bears no fruit, will be cut off from the vine from God and from the body of Christ.
We learn much about the Spirit, the gifts and the fruit – not only through the Bible but through our experiences It is our testimony too, that should not be put into cold storage but to teach others as well as to learn ourselves.
Is there anyone who can think of a time when a gift was manifested in you, beyond your skills set that you used to serve someone else in a remarkable way?
Five testimonies were shared.
Lord of all,
Spirit of Christ,
Creator, Healer, Empowerer
Take our gift of praise to you
and work in us a new change.
Transform and challenge us
to be the people of Christ
who work with other believers
to strengthen them
And with non-believers
To see your power.
Through us create in them a desire
to have their lives changed
and to know you.
In the name of Christ, we pray.