Leading Question: How does one grow the fruit of the Spirit?
1. First things first: Matt. 6:31-34. Jesus is clear: If we seek the kingdom of God first, all the other good gifts will be added as well. What are the visible signs (if any) that would reveal whether someone is seeking the Lord with all their heart?
2. Important things first: Romans 14:17. Religion is more than meat and drink, argues Paul. But he was clear that what we do with the food and drink is very important indeed, especially as it impacts other people with convictions differing from ours. Why are we so easily tempted to put lesser things (like food and drink) in greater prominence than Jesus’ two great commands?
3. Loving the world in the right way: John 3:16; 1 John 2:15; James 4:4. Jesus and the apostles agree that there is a right kind of love for the world and the wrong kind. God so loved the world that he gave his son. Can we love it in the same way?
4. How do we grow the fruit? Here is a standard set of suggestions with key texts for each. How can each of these help us become what God wants of us?
A. Study of the Word: 2 Timothy 3:16. Does it make a difference how we study? Will some find one method more helpful than others?
B. Prayer: Mark 1:35. Jesus didn’t say much about prayer. But his example was impressive. In particular, he would get up a long time before day break, go to an isolated place and pray. What do you imagine him doing and saying during the dark, early morning hours?
C. Thinking good thoughts: Rom. 12:2; Phil. 4:8. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, says Paul. And he wasn’t shy about saying what we should put into our minds: The true, the honorable, the just, the pure, the pleasing, the commendable. Can meditating on those traits help make them a reality in our lives?
D. Witness: Mark 5:18-20. When Jesus sent the healed demoniac home, he told him to share the good word with others. The man did just that – with great success. What would happen if, like the demoniac, we could share what the Lord has done for us?