Introduction: Many people look back over their lives and wonder why it did not go better. Some who are younger wonder why others seem to enjoy a better life. Even very successful people feel restless and dissatisfied. How about you, are you satisfied with your life, or do you feel restless? A general feeling of dissatisfaction results from the wrong attitudes. The world calls the right attitudes Emotional Intelligence.  The Bible calls it the Fruits of the Spirit. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more.  

  1.         Fruits of the Spirit and Works of the Flesh

  1.         Read Galatians 5:19-21. If this described your life, how do you think you would feel?

  1.         Read Galatians 5:22-23. How does this sound in contrast?

  1.         Likely both of these lists describe some of our characteristics. The challenge is moving more fully away from the list of the works of the flesh and more fully to the fruits of the Spirit. Let’s look at sections in the Bible that help to head us in the right direction.

  1.         Peace and Division

  1.         Read Matthew 10:34-36. How does this square with the lists in Galatians 5? (It contradicts the lists. Division is a work of the flesh and peace is a fruit of the spirit. Jesus and Paul seem to be on opposite courses.)

  1.         Read Matthew 10:37-38 and Exodus 20:12. Can you reconcile these texts?

  1.         American lawyers have a rule for reconciling apparently contradictory laws that I think is helpful here. Before a court can conclude it must choose one law over the other, it must attempt to reconcile the two laws. Does Jesus’ statement that He brings a sword, and not peace, contradict the idea that the Holy Spirit will give you an attitude of peace?

  1.         Should we connect Jesus’ statements about bringing a sword to His statements about creating conflict in the family? (Jesus connects the two. Matthew 10:35 starts out “For I have come to set man against his father….”)

  1.         If I were trying to reconcile the two, I could conclude that knowing God brings peace, except in your family. Is that reconciliation satisfactory?

  1.         Read Matthew 10:20-22 and skim over Matthew chapter 10. Have we taken Jesus’ statements about bringing a sword and not peace out of context? (The context is critical. Jesus sends His disciples to share the gospel and perform miracles. He warns them (and us) that sharing the gospel will bring persecution, and the worst persecution is from members of your own family. Plus, Jesus strongly hints ( Matthew 10:22) that He is talking about last day events.)

  1.         Now that you have considered the context, who actually brings the sword of persecution? (Those who reject the gospel. Opposition to the gospel brings conflict, but the gospel itself brings peace. There is no irreconcilable conflict.)

  1.         Our topic is why some people do better in life. How is what we just discussed relevant to our topic? (Following the lead of the Holy Spirit brings out all of these positive attributes that make our lives better. But, there are enemies of the gospel who do not follow God’s rules, are hostile to the rules, and who disrupt the normal application of the rules.)

  1.         Love and Envy

  1.         Read Luke 12:13-14. Jesus does not give an answer to His own question. How would you answer it?

  1.         When you think an injustice has occurred, do you pray that God will make it right?

  1.         Does our God believe in justice?

  1.         Read Luke 12:15. What new element does this comment insert into our story? (Jesus suggests that the person calling for justice in the inheritance is simply coveting. This suggests that an injustice has not been done.)

  1.         Let’s read Luke 12:16-18. If you were this farmer, would you do the same thing?

  1.         Have you purchased a bigger house so that you will have more room for your growing family and assets? How about buying a bigger vehicle? Renting a storage bin?

  1.         Read Luke 12:19. Would you like to retire early? If you could, would you? Do you envy those who are rich enough to retire early? In general, do you envy the rich?

  1.         Read Luke 12:20-21 and re-read Luke 12:15. What new element does Jesus introduce here into the story of the farmer? (The farmer was not “rich toward God.”)

  1.         Does this mean that the farmer did not pay a tithe? (Nothing is said about tithe. Besides, paying tithe is simply a small portion of your wealth that is promised to make you more wealthy so that you will be in the same position as this farmer – you need more room to store it. See Malachi 3:10 NIV.)

  1.         If the story is not about money or wealth, what is it about? How was this farmer “not rich toward God?” (Look at Luke 12:19 again and focus on how the farmer intended to spend his time in the future. I don’t think the problem is a rational solution to storing a bumper crop, the problem is that the farmer intends to spend all of his future on himself. He says nothing about advancing the Kingdom of God. His sudden death changes nothing for the Kingdom.)

  1.         Look again at Luke 12:13. How do you think these brothers got along? What was this fellows highest priority? (Money. Our life does not consist of our wealth and just relaxing. Instead “love” and “faithfulness” to God are part of what God requires of us regardless of how much wealth we possess.)

  1.         Faithfulness and Impurity

  1.         Read Matthew 23:1-3. What is the problem with these religious leaders? (They say the right things, but do not do the right things.)

  1.         Read Matthew 23:4. Is Jesus telling us to bear heavy burdens because the religious leaders say to carry heavy burdens? (Read Matthew 23:13 and Matthew 23:15. Jesus is not telling the crowd to do everything the religious leaders say, for that would make them “twice as much a child of hell” as the leaders.)

  1.         Read Matthew 23:5-7. How would you describe the problem here? Do you want to be respected? Is that a sin?

  1.         I’ve asked myself in the past what part of my motivation to teach and preach is to be seen by others? Is that the problem here? (That is not what Jesus describes. The problem is what they wear and where they sit. They are looking for honor based on externals, not based on what they are doing to advance the Kingdom of God.)

  1.         Have you seen church members who are asked to sing, pray, read Scripture, or give a praise, and who turn that opportunity into giving a sermon? Is this what is described in Matthew 23:5-7?

  1.         Read Matthew 23:8-11. My students in the law school call me “Professor” and the people in my church called me to be an “Elder” and “teacher.” What sin is Jesus identifying? Are these titles sinful? (The problem is failing to recognize that we have one Father in heaven and one Instructor, Jesus. The concern is honorific titles, not job labels.)

  1.         Is part of the problem that professors, elders, and teachers are “puffed up” by these titles?

  1.         Is part of the problem that church leaders think their views are more important than God’s views? (Read Matthew 23:11-12. The answer to these questions must be “yes.” Leaders need a servant attitude. The problem is self-exaltation and pride.)

  1.         Let’s circle back to the prior question about those who sing, pray, read Scripture, or give a praise turning those things into a sermon. As you might have guessed, I don’t like it. But, does my attitude reflect something other than a servant attitude?

  1.         Friend, are you restless? The Holy Spirit is the source of the Fruits of the Spirit. Why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to help you live a Spirit-guided life?

  1.         Next week: The Cost of Rest.