Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
Texts: John 15:1–11; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 14:17; Ephesians 5:9; Matthew 5:5
Last week, US Customs and Border Protection agents in Texas peeked into a truck hauling food produce, but found something more in their inspection process. The load of “limes” looked somewhat like the green citrus fruit, but with the help of an imaging system and a K-9 team, they discovered the outside of the round green “fruit” did not match the inside.
Thousands of phony limes were actually packages filled with marijuana. To be exact, there were 34,000 fake fruit packages—nearly 2 tons—intercepted by the agents. The smuggled drugs were worth over $780,000. Similar efforts have been made to sneak marijuana over the border. Last year agents found 2,493 pounds of marijuana stuffed inside fake carrots.1
Can you imagine spiritual border patrols stationed at the doors of your church, checking to see if members who cross the threshold are genuinely Christian? What if some type of detector could separate real followers of Christ from those who only give lip service. How might they tell the difference? This week’s Sabbath school lesson gives us more than a hint.
We are studying about the fruits of Spirit, most clearly outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (NASB). To the church in Galatia, filled with members being pulled into the deception of trying to keep the letter of the Jewish law, Paul pointed to the genuine evidence of a follower of God.
The fruit of Spirit cannot be created by human effort. It comes only as the result of a life submitted to Christ. People cannot manufacture such character qualities on their own. It’s a miraculous product of the Holy Spirit living in the heart. When we, like some of the believers in Galatia, think that our efforts to keep the law—any law—will automatically let us cross the border into heaven, we are self-deceived. Some may peer at our lives and think they seem “limes”, but God is not deceived. The fingerprints of sin mark every human effort to obey God’s law.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7, 8).
We don’t recommend stationing spiritual patrols at the doors of your church. It’s not our job to judge people’s hearts. But let’s not forget, there is One who knows the genuine from the phony.
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