What does it mean that we have the first fruits of the Spirit? That we groan, looking forward to our adoption? First fruits are the preview of an entire crop. Say you’ve planted several acres of corn. When the first ears of corn are harvested, they are considered the first fruits. You taste them and say “This corn is delicious. It’s wonderful.” You taste the first fruits of all that was planted, and, because you have tasted it, you can say, “Let me tell you—this whole crop is outstanding.”
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the first fruits, the foretaste, of all that we will someday become. A similar passage in II Corinthians 5 deals with this same concept, calling these first fruits “the earnest of the Spirit,” or a down-payment that insures the fulfilled contract of our Christ-likeness.
Paul says that even with these first fruits of glory in our lives, we groan within ourselves. Our present existence is similar to the pains of labor before birth. Have you ever seen anyone after the birth of their child say, “Let me show you a picture of my wife in labor?"
No! We don’t do that (and wouldn’t live long if we did!) Instead we say, “Let me show you a picture of our beautiful new baby!” As we groan now, having these first fruits of the Spirit, we’re looking forward to seeing the picture of our resurrected life with Christ in glory. “Blessed assurance,” wrote hymnist Fanny Crosby, “Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!”