Main Point: We must depend on the Holy Spirit in order to show love to others.
Key Verse: So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. - Galatians 5:16a
Props: Apple; Paper and pencil; 2 strings, 2 straws, 2 balloons, scotch tape
Teacher, Take out a nice crisp apple and take a big bite. Use facial expressions to show how much you are enjoying it. Really exaggerate! Then describe it. Say: I love apples. Red ones are my favorite. It is so sweet and juicy and refreshing. I would have to say, the apple is the best part of the tree. It’s definitely the prettiest part. And it’s definitely the best tasting part - I sure wouldn’t want to eat the bark or the roots! And another cool part of the apple is - after you finish eating it, guess what you’re left with? Seeds! Right there in your hand are about five seeds. They have the potential to grow into five more trees which will produce no-telling how many more apples.
Ask: What is your favorite kind of fruit? Say: Oh, those are all so good. Yes, I would definitely say that the best part of any tree is it’s fruit. Today we are going to talk about a different kind of fruit. It’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s not fruit that you hold or eat, but like this apple, the fruit of the Spirit is refreshing and good for you. Everything about it is good.
Say: During Jesus’ final days on earth, He made a special promise to His disciples. He said, “What I'm about to tell you is true. It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Friend will not come to help you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:6-8) The Friend that Jesus was talking about was God’s Holy Spirit. Does Jesus always keep His promises? Yes!
When the time was right, Jesus went into heaven to be with His Father. Sure enough, about a week later, all the disciples were together with other believers, praying. There was an amazing sound and each of the people there were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an amazing thing! And Jesus promises that even today, when we put our trust in Him, we will be filled with this same Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:5).
In the next few weeks, we’ll be learning about what life is like when we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Some of God’s qualities, or characteristics, show through us when His Spirit lives in us. These characteristics are what the Bible calls fruit.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Galatians 5:22. If you know this verse, say it with me.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
Today, we’ll focus on love. What is love? Listen for answers. Love is a word we hear a lot. It’s a word we say a lot. I might say, “I love ice cream,” or “I love sunny days.” Those are the feelings we have - affection for something.
But the word used for fruit in this verse is talking about our actions! (”Fruit” Greek: karpos - work, act, deed.) The Bible has a beautiful definition of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13, beginning in verse 4:
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people's wrongs.
Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up. Love never fails.
Does the Bible mention romantic things like red roses or heart shaped candy? No. These verses tell us many of the actions of love: Being kind, not being rude, not bragging, protecting, and trusting are things we can do.
Remember, love is one of God’s characteristics. In fact, the Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). These verses tell us what God is like! God is patient and kind...(go through verse, replacing “love” with “God.”)
Ultimately, God showed the greatest love for us by sending His Son for us. Is sending an action? Yes! Who can recite John 3:16 for us? God gave His Son. Is giving an action? Yes! God sent Jesus to take away our sin and bring us back to Him.
When Jesus was on earth, people could see what true love looked like. Jesus was always patient. I think of Peter, who very often spoke out of turn or said the wrong things. Jesus was patient with him. Jesus taught Peter, day after day, for three years. Was that an action?
Jesus was always kind. Remember His first miracle? He was at a wedding and they ran out of wine. His mother, Mary, asked Jesus to help out. Quietly, Jesus turned large jugs of water into wine. He was very kind to the bride and groom, and to His mom. Was that an action?
Jesus didn’t brag. Wow! If anyone deserved the right to brag, it would be Jesus! He was perfect! And He was powerful. But the Bible says that He was humble. He was the opposite of proud. He even washed the dirty, smelly feet of His disciples. Was that an action? A bragger would say, “I’m better than you. You wash my feet.” But Jesus did just the opposite.
Jesus did not look out for His own interests. He put other’s needs before His own. Jesus could have stayed in heaven where He is rightfully worshipped by the angels (Revelation 5:11-12). But He left the glory of heaven to come to earth. (That would be sort of like giving up your vacation in Disney World to stay home and rake your nieighbor’s yard instead.)
Jesus chose to come to earth even though He knew many people would treat Him terribly. In fact, He gave up His own life to pay our sin debt. Was that an action? The disciple John, who saw Jesus beaten and hung on the cross, wrote:
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. - John 15:13
And Jesus did not keep track of other peoples’s wrongs! Use paper and pencil to write a list. Say: That would be like writing down a list: “I see that you lied. I know that you hate that person. I see that you are ungrateful.” No! Jesus did not do that! Just the opposite, Jesus wiped all of our sins away forever and ever! Tear up the list! Because of Him, our sins are gone!
In Jesus, we see the perfect love of God lived out in action!
Say: If I am a believer in Jesus, if my trust is in Him, I should be living this kind of life. I should be showing this kind of love to other people every day. But you know what? I have learned that on my own, I can’t show love very well. No matter how much I know I should be patient, in my own strength, I get really frustrated and impatient. No matter how much I know I should put other’s needs before my own, in my own strength, I end up doing what I want to do.
There is only one way for me to show true love to others! Earlier, I read the verses that list the fruit of the Spirit. Well, if we back up to the beginning of that passage, the Bible says, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.” (Galatians 5:16a) Of course, our wonderful God would not tell us how we should love, and then leave us without the POWER to do it!
Illustration: Let’s look at it this way. Galatians tells us that love doesn’t brag. But let’s say that my teacher told me privately that I made the highest grade in the whole class on our spelling test. Now, I know I shouldn’t brag, but all the kids are talking about how hard the test was, and I am dying to blurt out, “I made a 100!” Maybe if I just leave my test out on my desk someone will see it. Is that still bragging? Yep.
So, since I know it’s wrong to brag, because it will make my friends feel bad, my goal is to keep my mouth shut and my paper hidden through the rest of the day. Tie a long string to a pole high enough for all to see, or have another leader hold the end. Put on the uninflated balloon racer. Hold your end of the string taut, horizontal to the ground. Say: So this balloon is me , trying to get to the end of the day without bragging. (Point to other end of the string - as if the string is the long day.) It’s a long day with many opportunities to “mention” my grade. Do you think I’ll get there on my own? No.
But, wait! Remember, Galatians said to let the Holy Spirit guide me. I am a believer, so I’m full of God’s Holy Spirit. Give some slack in the string. Blow up the balloon. Pinch the neck; do NOT tie it. Say: I am filled with power. I have to depend on God’s Spirit! Now let go of the balloon, and it will race to the other side.
When you are listening to the Holy Spirit and depending on Him, He’ll give you the power to show the actions of love. You can show kindness to someone who can’t do anything for you. Maybe you can help a teammate with his baseball swing, or give clothes to someone in need. You can never show the fruit of the Holy Spirit without depending on the Holy Spirit! It’s His fruit after all - not mine! It’s the fruit of Who? The fruit of the Spirit!
This is a lot to cover in one lesson! Truly, learning to show love is a life-long goal. Left on your own, it’s an impossible task. God doesn’t expect you to do it! He expects you to let Him do it through you!
Main Point: We must depend on the Holy Spirit in order to show love to others.
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