What Comes After Fruitfulness - pt. 1

Steve Viars July 15, 2000 Galatians 5:19-26

- I’d like to begin our time this morning by asking you to picture a particular scenario with me.
- have you ever been trying to communicate something to someone, but they just didn’t seem to grasp the importance of doing what you were suggesting, or what you were asking, or in some cases even what you were telling them to do?
- perhaps that’s happened to you at work....where because of your experience, and what you’ve learned over the years....you ask someone working for you to do it a particular way...
- its not because you’re being bossy or overbearing...you’ve just learned from experience that doing this way will be best for everyone in the long run....
- but you suspected from the way their eyes were sort of glassed over....
- or some of the body language communicating a lack of interest or even disagreement....
- or certainly their downright failure to do what you had asked to do....
- but somehow they didn’t grasp the importance of what you were trying to communicate?
- have you ever been in those shoes?

- now let’s turn that around....have you ever been in a situation where someone was trying to communicate something to you.....they were really passionate about what they were saying...
- and you just didn’t see the importance of it.
- but later, you regretted not listening more carefully to what they said and following their advice?

- when I first got my driver’s license, my dad talked to me about the importance of driving carefully.
- he was concerned for my safety....he was concerned for people who might be riding in the car...
- he was concerned for people in other cars....
- since it was going to be his car I would be driving, he was concerned about the well being of his car...
- so he talked to me about driving slowly, carefully, and defensively.

- well, I had turned sixteen and I knew a whole lot more about cars and driving than my dad....so I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to what he had to say.
- you probably know where this is going....
- not long after I got my learner’s permit, my mom picked me up from basketball practice and we had to hurry to a dentist’s appointment....and I asked her if I could drive....
- she wasn’t too thrilled with the idea....I hadn’t driven much, we were in a hurry....but I bugged her to death so she let me drive.

- well, sure enough, I was tooling down Broadway in Merrillville----with my mom saying, Steven, be careful....Steven, slow down.....Steven...Steven...Steven.....
- when a car pulled out in front of me from a side street and I just crunched it.

- so here I am on the one of the first times my mom lets me drive her car, and I have a wreck....
- but it’s worse, because the car I hit was only a few days old.
- and my moms car was an older buick --- affectionately known as the boat because of how big and heavy it was....and this new car had thinner metal and wasn’t made as well...so here’s this brand new car that’s been just crunched.

- but it’s worse, because not only was it a brand new car....it was a brand new police car.
- and the accident happened right around the corner from the Merrillville Police station.
- and within seconds, there were flashing lights everywhere....
- and while technically it wasn’t my fault.....I couldn’t help but think....maybe this business of being careful when you’re driving is more important than I thought.

- now you might say, PV, why are you telling us that story?
- the answer is, for the past 16 weeks, we’ve been studying a passage of Scripture that contains a list of characteristics known as the Fruit of the Spirit.
- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- but now we’d like to turn our attention to the question, what comes after fruitfulness?
- because Paul doesn’t stop the discussion as soon as he concludes the list.
- so our plan for the next several weeks is to ask the question....what is supposed to come after we consider such matters....
- the answer from our verses today is that there should be A Commitment to Growth because [of a belief that] Fruitfulness is Important.

- see, its possible that you and I may have responded to the concepts we’ve studied thus far in a similar way to how I responded to my dad’s discussions about driving.
- and I’m not suggesting that one of us didn’t listen carefully, or didn’t leave the studies with good intentions....
- but in the nitty gritty of everyday life....[like when you’re a new driver trying to get to the dentist on time]....in the nitty gritty of everyday life.....sometimes we don’t act on what we’ve heard as aggressively or consistently as we should.

- in the verses we’re going to study today, Paul gives us....
Three Reasons We Should Believe Growing in Fruitfulness is Very Important.

- with all of that in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible once again to Galatians chapter 5.
- if you’re new to finding your way around the Bible, there’s a pew Bible in the pew in front of you, and you’ll locate Galatians 5 on page 149 of the back section of the pew Bible.

- we’ve been reading starting at Galatians 5:13 in order to get the context of the verses, but for sake of time today I think we’ll just start at verse 19
- READ 19-26
- now, if the question before the house is, what comes after fruitfulness?
- the answer that is suggested from verses 24-26 is, A Commitment to Growth because [of a belief that] Fruitfulness is Important.
- let’s talk about three reasons from this text for why we should believe that growing in fruitfulness is very important.


I.  It’s a Matter of Your Relationship to Christ.


- did you notice how your relationship to Christ is described in verse 24?
- and I realize that the wording will be a bit different from version to version....
- but in the New American Standard Bible, the translation is, “those who belong to Christ.”

- see, this whole business of seeking to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit is affected by the issue of ownership.
- people who genuinely believe that they belong to Christ are going to put a significant amount of effort into developing spiritual fruit....whereas folks who haven’t done business with the ownership issue may be rather lacodasical about the whole thing.

- now please think about this from the perspective of the folks who originally received this letter....the churches in the region of Galatia [modern day Turkey]
- what was Paul saying to them?

- the way they were treating one another gave evidence that apparently they believed the church belongs to them....
- their legalism, the way they were adding ideas to God’s Word and making those ideas tests of a person’s salvation or spiritual position in the church, gave evidence that they believed the church belonged to them....
- the way they were biting one another, and devouring one another, and causing all sorts of discord and division in the church shows that somewhere along the line they forgot who the church really belonged to...or who themselves really belonged to.
- what I’m suggesting to you is, these folks had a Lordship problem....an ownership problem.

- the principle is --- you and I will never seek to develop the fruit of the Spirit unless we’ve dealt practically in our minds with the issue of who we belong to, and have found specific ways to remind ourselves of that fact on a daily basis.

- now someone might say, PV, are there other verses in God’s Word that deal with this matter of ownership?
- yes, and some of them would be great ones to memorize.
Acts 20:28 - Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
- another great one is...
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

- see, that’s the same thing that Paul is saying in Galatians 5:24 when he describes Christians as people who “belong to Christ”
- there’s a connection between fruitfulness and ownership.

- you know, this really affects the way we function as a church.
- because what we’re talking about this morning is one of the things that can become a stumbling block to men and women making a decision to trust Christ.
- sometimes folks will say, you know, I like the thing about Jesus paying for my sin....
- I like the part about receiving forgiveness as a free gift....
- I like the idea of having assurance of a place in heaven....
- I like the privilege of praying....those things are all fine.....
- but what I don’t like, some folks will say, is this matter of Jesus being my Lord....of Jesus being in control, of Jesus owning me.
- and I appreciate when people are honest about what they’re thinking....but do you see what they’re saying when they take that position?
- I want a Savior, but I don’t want a Lord....
- I want the crown but I don’t want the cross....
- I want the benefits of salvation but I don’t want the responsibilities....
- I want Jesus to pay for my sin, make my one of God’s children, prepare a place for me in heaven....
- but I’ll be in charge between now and then.

- friends, that is not the biblical gospel.
- and a church like ours is faced with the issue of....
- do we proclaim the true, biblical, and complete gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the importance of trusting Him as Lord and Savior....
- risking the fact that some folks may here that gospel and reject it because they want to retain control of their life.....
- or do we proclaim an incomplete gospel that might be more acceptable to human beings here and now but in fact be something other than the real thing?

- and I think you know---we’re committed to teaching the whole counsel of God....we believe it would be irresponsible to leave certain aspects of the message out because we fear they might be objectionable to some.

- that’s why, by the way, Romans 10:9-10 says.... Romans 10:9-10 - that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

- friends, can I ask you a couple of questions about this?
1) Do you belong to Christ?
- do you know for sure that there’s been a definite time that you’ve trusted Him as Savior and Lord?
- or is it possible that you’ve not been growing in the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit nearly at the rate that God desires because you’ve not done business with the foundational issue of ownership?

- now you might say...but PV, I’ve hesitated to make the decision to trust Christ for this very reason....I’m afraid of relinquishing control of my life to anyone.
- could I say a couple of things to you about that?
a.  You and I were never designed to be in charge of our lives.
- and most of us can point to clear evidence of how when we tried, we messed things up pretty badly.
- we don't possess the wisdom, we don’t possess the power, we don’t possess the principles necessary to make life work.....yet sometimes we tenaciously hold on to power we were never designed to have.
b.  Not only is Jesus Christ our rightful Lord, He is a good Lord.
- yes you could say that He is a dictator --- His authority is absolute....but He is a benevolent dictator.....He is a good king.

- we’re into the 22nd week of our building program.
- there are hundred and hundreds of details involved in a project like this.
- the nice thing about not being in charge is....you’re not in charge.
- that’s where verses like I Peter 5:7 come in, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
- or Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

- it’s been so liberating to be able to pray dozens and dozens of times during the project, well Lord, this is your church.
- it belongs to you, and I belong....so here’s my request, but whatever you desire is fine.

- I don't want the responsibility of being in ultimate charge of my life...but when you deal with the issue of ownership.....then the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit become much more important because that’s the way the OWNER wants us to live.

- if you have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior, can I ask you this, would you be helped by making a commitment today that sounds something like, Lord, help me to more consistently factor your ownership of me into the amount of effort I put into cultivating spiritual fruit.
- I’ve told you before that I usually prepare for the Sunday morning message on Thursday.
- its amazing how many things the Lord brings into my life on Thursdays that go along with what I’m studying.
- let me give you this Thursday’s version....

- our homeowners association is paving the road that leads back to our subdivision.
- if you’ve been to our house, you know we live in a small subdivision of 5 homes that are on the crest of a hill that looks over the Wildcat.
- the front of our homes also have a ravine, so the only way in or out of our subdivision is this narrow bridge over one of the ravines.
- well, they had told us that they were going to pave our neighbor’s driveway on Thursday, and then we all had to have our cars out of the subdivision by Thursday evening because Friday they were going to pave the road that leads back to the subdivision over this narrow bridge.
- Thursday morning Kris calls and says, Steve, they’re not paving our neighbor’s driveway today, they’re paving the road and I haven’t taken the van out yet and we’re going to be stuck back here for three days.
- well, that wasn’t going to work....we had a lot of things planned this weekend....we needed the van....
- so I told Kris, I’ll come over and talk to them.

- so on the way over, I’m thinking....you know, that’s just like these construction guys....
- they tell you they’re going to do one thing, then they do something else....
- and they think because they’re driving a big piece of equipment that makes them really something....
- in fact I’ve concluded that there’s a direct relationship between the size of the piece of equipment a guy is driving and the cocky attitude with which he drives it....
- so I’m planning the speech I’m going to give these fellows.....
but the problem is, I’ve got this text in my brain.....
- you belong to Christ.....you belong to Christ.....
- and the owner has planned in an inconvenience today.....
- the owner has rearranged the daytimer today....
- and not only that, but the owner [the one you say you belong to] expects you to respond to this in a way that manifests the fruit of the spirit.

- its amazing how helpful that was....
- and the point I’m making to you today is, many of would be helped by learning to factor that concept into our daily routine.....growing in fruitfulness becomes a whole lot more important when I remember the nature of my relationship with Jesus Christ....He’s the owner.

- now, what else do we see in the text?


II.  It’s a Matter of Your Relationship to the Holy Spirit.


- verse 25 says, if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
- now please don’t let the “if’s” in that passage trip you up.
- if you know Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, you do have the Holy Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 12:13 - For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Romans 8:9 - However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

- so you could translate what Paul is saying in verse 25 as “since we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in Him.”
- in other words, let your practice catch up with your position.....
- that’s what the end of verse 24 was about, by the way.....
- when you trusted Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, you crucified the flesh with its passions and desires....
- you no longer enslaved to sinful habits....we studied that last week....
- the Bible also says that the moment you were saved the Holy Spirit took up residence inside of you....

- Paul’s point is, since that’s true, let’s be sure we’re acting like it.
- If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

- I understand that these nine characteristics we’ve been studying might seem a bit intimidating.....
- I could never be like that....
- that’s out of my reach....
- I’m too far gone.....

- if we’re talking about you along trying to become more loving, more peaceful, more gentle and so on....I’d agree----that list just isn’t going to happen.....
- but remember your relationship with the Holy Spirit....you and Him make a powerful fruit-bearing team.
- and some of us have given up, or we’ve been satisfied with mediocrity in some of these areas....and in actuality we have shortchanged the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
- when you factor in your relationship to the Holy Spirit of God to the pursuit of things like love, joy, peace and so on....you’ll find yourself going at that pursuit with renewed vigor and optimism.

- I found that to be true with the guys paving the road.
- I thought about this matter of ownership....I [and my schedule] belong to Jesus.....
- and I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit of God to help me talk to these guys in a way that is consistent with our list....
- so I calmly explained the problem...and it turns out that they were just some good ole boys from down south [and I’m saying that respectfully], but they said, hey we’re sorry...we’re having trouble with our equipment and we can pave a straight line but not a curve so we decided to do it the opposite way of how we communicated to the homeowners....but that first layer is just binder, feel free to get the van and drive right over it.

- and I walked away from that conversation thinking....the Holy Spirit is really powerful.
- and friend, I wonder if some of us are satisfied with living that doesn’t come close to accomplishing what we read in verses 22-23.....
- but we rationalize it with -- hey that’s the best I can do...
- that’s as loving as I can be...
- that’s as self-controlled as I can be....
- that’s as gentle as I can be....

- and those statements may be true in the sense of --- its the best I can do....
- but they’re false because ---- we’re not just talking about me.....
- we’re talking about me [and you], plus the Holy Spirit of God

- and remembering the potential power of that combination ought to motivate us about the importance of growing in fruitfulness.

- now, there’s one more important idea in this text....
- it’s a matter of your relationship to Christ, and it’s a matter of your relationship to the Holy Spirit....but also....


III. It’s a Matter of Your Relationship to Other People.


- see, that’s what verse 26 is all about.

- let us not become boastful, challenging one another, and envying one another.

- all of those things are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.....and when you and I live that way, we don't value human beings the way we should.
- you could say it this way --- when you see the importance of developing the fruit of the Spirit, you show how much you value your relationships with other people.

- now you might say --- well, how is that true?
- think about it --- this list of 9 characteristics.....who are they going to be played out in front of?
- other people.

- the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit are not exercised in a vacuum.
- they’re not something you do out in the middle of a cornfield by yourself.....

- when Paul talked about gentleness, he was talking about the way you treat other people....
- when he talked about kindness, he was talking about you and other people....
- when he talked about patience, when he talked about love....

- these are not private characteristics.....they’re public ones....
- this isn’t something you do in your personal devotion time, it’s something you do in your relationships with other people.

- and friends, some of us don't put enough importance on getting to a better place in these nine characteristics because we don't see how our lack of them negatively affects our relationships with others.

- friend, do you value people.
- we were talking with one of the guys who worked on Project 2000.
- and Pastor Lopez and I started calling him the shock absorber.....
- because when there was a difficulty on the job, so many times he was willing to do whatever had to be done to make things right....
- and many times that meant doing something that really wasn’t his responsibility....

- and we were talking about that and he said, when I went into this project, it wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about the work....it was about the people...it was about the relationships....

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video