In many churches I have seen and been a part of, it seems we have a set of fruits that are not spiritual, yet we portray them as such. I will admit that many of these I have struggled with, these false fruits. These fruits are often damaging to our ministry if they are recognized to be false fruits. There are many false fruits that exist in our lives and ministry, I will list a few that come to mind and ones that have left a foot print (or a boot print) in my life (or backside).
1. Leadership. Leadership is a good thing, and there is no shortage of books, classes and resources on leadership. We are in love the concept of leadership. We want to lead, lead better and be a better leader. We are in love with leadership. The problem is, we are not suppose to be leaders. We already have a leader, He is the head, we are the body. Jesus already gave us the vision, the direction and strategy. We just got to do it. If you want to lead, be the lead follower. Just like Paul says, imitate me as I imitate Christ. Jesus is the leader, lead others to follow by following.
2. Growth. We love growth don’t we. We had a whole moment dedicated to church growth. We are all about growth, and church growth is a good thing. It’s good for a church to grow, but we have equated a growing church with a spiritual church. We have forgotten that sometimes God prunes so growth comes later. We have also taken the opinion that growth means God is blessing. We forget the LDS church is growing, the religion of Islam is growing, lots of very un-Christian groups are growing. Growth is sometimes a fruit of popularity and persuasion, but not a fruit of the spirit.
3. Knowledge. Knowing stuff is good, and knowing the Bible is even better, but knowledge is not a fruit of the spirit. Having knowledge in teaching is important, but knowing the word and living the word are often two different things. Have knowledge, but put it into practice. Too often, knowledge is used to enslave people in legalism, guilt or manipulation. 1Corinthians 13 tells us that having all knowledge is worthless without love.
4. Authority. Authority is like leadership, and with authority, we enforce our standards. Having standards is good, and having some authority is fine, but often with authority we loose patience and gentleness, both which are fruit of the spirit. Often authority creates a situation that there are losers and outsiders. It can create an elite class within the church who has all the power, makes all the decisions and closes doors to ministries. We have to keep the authority with Jesus.
5. Numbers. Being Baptist, we are all familiar with this one. Bodies, Baptisms and Bucks. How much, how many, all the people showing up. Now, I love Baptisms and I love it when people are baptized, and I don’t want to get into a debate on Baptisms and which one are valid, but often we baptize believers and those drive up the numbers. We love to write down numbers and report them, how much we give to mission offerings and how many people get wet. These things are great, but they MUST come as a result of the spiritual maturity and spiritual life of a church. We can dunk people, get money and fill chairs without really leading anyone to faith in Christ and with having them grow. If we start with Christ, then the 3 Bs are wonderful, fabulous and gifts from God. Without starting with Christ, they are false fruits.
These fruits are not bad things in themselves, but often they become the end to themselves. These things can be the result of the body of Christ having the fruit of the spirit, but often we bypass the fruits and just want the results. To get the results without having the fruit of the spirit causes us to do damage to each other. Let’s make sure our results are coming from our love for Christ and service to Him, and not our desire to be great.