Are You Producing Fruit?
About 4 years ago my neighbor and I began a simple gardening adventure. We had a spare space between our houses that was rarely used, was the last place to be mowed, and had consistent sunlight throughout the day. We talked at length about bringing back our country boy days and turning the space into a garden. For nearly a year we researched what we would need, what we would plant, and when we would need to get to work. We actually considered this to be a huge investment into the future of our families. Through our garden we would eat more healthy year round. To be honest, for me, it was more about getting my hands dirty and being proud of what we made. The first year we focused greatly on the garden. We made sure to till up the ground at just the right time, pull all the weeds, and plant what we thought would grow the best. We worked as a team and even had the kids excited about gardening. On my side of the space was a large garden area perfect for green beans, tomatoes, and peppers. We had enough space that we planted grapes and built stands for the grapes to grow around. On his side, we planted our herbs and some basic root vegetables. At the end of the summer we harvested a few peppers, lots of green beans, and so many tomatoes we broke the metal cages they were growing on. We considered our first year a success and began planning for year 2. The second year we were busy and comfortable. We tossed in some seeds, tilled when it was convenient, and just let nature do what it does when you don’t tend to it. The result: our garden was a mess. Our plants were nearly choked out by every weed imaginable, and our return was less than satisfying. Now, our third year is off to a decent start, but those pesky weeds need my focus before my entire investment is lost again.
In Galatians 5:16-23, Paul writes to the church in Galatia about walking in step with the Spirit. He shares with the church about the difference between being in touch with the world and ourselves and staying close to God through the Spirit. He challenges the listener to not focus on gratifying the desires of the flesh. Quickly he goes on to define what those desires are and explains how they are in direct conflict with God. He even provides a stern warning that if we give in to those desires we have no reward in Heaven.
A couple years ago, I was listening to a sermon by Kyle Idleman about this passage in Galatians. In the message he talked about these desires of the flesh as weeds in a garden. For many of us, we know that the desires are there and when they take up enough space or begin to choke out our walk that is visible to others, we decide to deal with the weed. However, we only deal with what we can see. We only tear enough of the weed out of our lives so that it doesn’t continue to damage the growth that others can see. The real problem is that we never dig into the root of the problem. Instead of ridding our lives completely of the desire and giving ourselves entirely to the Spirit, we decide to hold on to just a little bit. Then, over time the weed begins to get in the way again. It starts to cause problems in our lives, our families, our marriages, and our jobs.
So what should we do if we know we have something in our lives that shouldn’t be there and we know that it isn’t leading us to a more God focused life in the Spirit?
Colossians 3:5-10 says put it to death. That means we must rip it out, tear it out, cut it out, or burn it out. Do whatever you have to in order to be rid of it.
As we go through the next sermon series, I encourage you to take a look at your lives. In the American culture we have many things that might not be producing fruit in our lives. From the food and drinks we consume, to our friends we keep. From movies and music we listen to, to the words we say that we know we should not.
Are you ready and willing to multiply by subtraction so that God can do something special in you and through you. Your best days are ahead, so stay in step with the Spirit!!