Karma and the Principles of Sowing and Reaping continued...

Hosea 10:12

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

Galatians 5:22-26

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Good Seed - Good Fruit - Good Outcomes

The driving point behind the Principle of Sowing and Reaping is SOW GOOD SEED!! If we Sow Good Seed the promise of the principle is that we will harvest GOOD FRUIT. That is the Good Outcome that you and I hope and believe for our life, and the lives of those we love. Let’s look today at this life changing principle as the opportunity of a lifetime - let's ask the Spirit to reveal to us a truth we have not known, have not followed, did not believe, or have somehow forgotten.

First, we come to understand that it is one thing to overcome the forceful drives of our flesh and not do evil or sinful things with them, but it is quite something else to overcome the driving forces of our flesh and move forward into the Spirit, to do good things with our life. The proud or arrogant person might be able to boast that he or she is not guilty of any serious or "big sin" conflicts, but bigger than any boast about someone's lack of sin is the question - "Can anyone see any good fruit in his or her life"? Negative goodness is not enough in a life; there must be positive qualities that produce good outcomes and favorable results as well. As you and I evaluate surely we conclude it is important to produce something good with our life. Sow good seed - produce good fruit - favor, blessing, covering, good will, and good outcomes.

As we unpack the principle of Sowing and Reaping we will discover there exists a contrast and tension between works and grace - that is important understand. A desktop computer is booted up and it produces access to information and knowledge - that is its best product. But a computer can never boot up and produce fruit of its product, at least not real spiritual fruit. No, real spiritual fruit must grow out of "real life" not virtual, and, in the case of the believer or the follower of Jesus, "real life" according to Galatians 5:25 is found in the life of the Spirit. When you think of "works" you think of effort, labor, strain, and toil; when you think of "fruit" you think of enjoyment, satisfaction, peace of mind, the unfolding of life. Our bottom line here is this - the flesh produces "dead works" but the Spirit produces "living fruit."

Hebrews 9:14

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

And amazingly this living fruit has in it the seed for even more fruit (an abundance). Love produces more love (Love Beyond Love)! Joy helps to produce more joy' Jesus is concerned that we produce "fruit... more fruit... much fruit" (John 15:2-5), because this is the way we glorify Him. The old nature cannot produce fruit; only the new nature can do that.

Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

The New Testament speaks to us of several different kinds of spiritual "fruit":

People Led to Christ (Romans 1:13)

I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.

Holy Living (Romans 6:22)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Gifts Brought to God (Romans 15:26-28)

For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

Good Works (Colossians 1:10)

so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Praise (Hebrews 13:15)

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

In our context, the "fruit of the Spirit" as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 has to do with the character of a person who is filled with the Spirit of God. It is important that we do not confuse this with the "gift" of the Spirit; which is salvation (Acts 2:38-39),

And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

or, the "gifts" of the Spirit which have to do with service (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

from the work and graces of the Spirit which relate to the actual building and developing of Christian character. Unfortunately some at times have overemphasized the gifts and neglected the graces (work) of the Spirit. Building good and godly Christian character is a priority of the Spirit and should precede and support the display of special gifts and abilities.

The Three Expressions of the Nine Fruits of the Spirit

The characteristics that God wants in our lives are seen in the Nine Fruits of the Spirit, but are evidenced in Three Expressions. Paul begins with love because all of the other fruit is really an outgrowth of love. There is a nice comparison of these eight qualities with the characteristics of love given to the Corinthians in 13:4-8.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

This word for love is agape, which means of course God Love or Divine Love. Interestingly, the Greek word eros, meaning "sensual love," is never used in the New Testament. This divine love is God's gift to us (Romans 5:5), and we must cultivate it and pray that it will increase (Philippians 1:9-11).

'and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

When a person lives in the influence of LOVE, then he or she experiences JOY - that inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected or controlled by outward circumstances. (A case in point is Paul's experience recorded in Phil 4:10-20.) This "holy optimism" keeps him going in spite of difficulties. Love and joy together produce PEACE, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Phil 4:7). These first three qualities express the Godward or Vertical Expression of the Christian life.

The next three express the Manward or Horizontal Expression of the Christian life: LONG-SUFFERING (courageous endurance without quitting), GENTLENESS (kindness), and GOODNESS (love in action). The Christian who is long-suffering will not avenge himself or wish difficulties on those who oppose him. He will be kind and gentle, even with the most offensive, and will sow goodness where others sow evil. Human nature can never do this on its own; only the Holy Spirit can.

The final three qualities are Self-ward or Centered: FAITH (faithfulness, dependability); MEEKNESS (the right use of power and authority, power under control); and TEMPERANCE (self-control). Meekness is not weakness. Jesus said, I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), and Moses was "very meek" (Numbers 12:3); yet no one could accuse either of them of being weak. The meek Christian does not throw his weight around or assert himself. Just as wisdom is the right use of knowledge, so meekness is the right use of authority and power.

It is possible for our old self or flesh to counterfeit (fake) some of the fruit of the Spirit, but the flesh can never produce the genuine fruit of the Spirit. The qualifier for genuine Fruit of the Spirit is this: when the Spirit produces fruit God gets the glory and the Christian (individual) is not conscious of his spirituality; but when the flesh is at work, the person is inwardly proud of himself and is pleased when others compliment him. The work of the Spirit is to make us more like Christ for His glory, not for the praise or power of men.

Good Seed - Good Fruit - Good Outcome Test

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