"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
When I was a kid, there was always one thing which frustrated my grandmother to no end when I was at her house. I didn’t eat vegetables. Green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, brussel sprouts. These things did not touch my plate. “Don’t you eat them at home?” she would ask. “No, mom doesn’t make us eat vegetables,” would be my response.
It turns out, my mom was not, and still isn’t, a big fan of vegetables. And because she didn’t want to make her kids eat something she wasn’t willing to eat herself, she just never made them. We had potatoes, corn, carrots, and the occasional ice berg lettuce salad but that was pretty much the extent of vegetables in my house growing up. Instead we had lots of fruit. Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and more were the items we selected from the produce aisle.
Fruit was our go-to snack when we had to find something healthy to eat.
Ever wonder how you can know if your faith is healthy?
One way is by the fruit of the spirit evident in your life. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
There are a couple of important things to remember about the fruit of the spirit. First off all, they are not a “to-do” list for Christian behavior. You, on your own, cannot truly master any one of these attributes. They are only truly mastered when you fully rely on the Spirit of God and let it transform your life completely. Each of these speak to the condition of your heart. You can only force your actions to be in line for so long before you slip up and let what is truly in your heart be revealed. If your heart isn’t patient, at some point you will get frustrated with waiting for something to happen.
Secondly, they are not meant to be scale by which we can judge another’s Christian faith. Perhaps, in that one instance, you were able to show more kindness than the person next to you but perhaps God is challenging them to grow in peace, or gentleness. Or perhaps you needed an opportunity to remember what it is to be kind and so God put that person in your life to give you that opportunity. We don’t know where a person started, we don’t know everything else going on in their lives, we only know what we see in a given moment. And in a given moment, it is not about how you can be more loving than another person, it is about giving the most of what you have to give for that moment. As my mom was often fond of saying in her elementary classroom through the years, “You worry about you.”
And finally, the fruit of the spirit aren’t as much about mastery as they are about a willingness to grow. Because we have to rely on God’s spirit to help us in each of them, we are reminded that there is always room to grow, to learn more about what it is be gentler or have more self-control. God is constantly calling us into deeper relationship with him and as a result of going deeper with God, we will understand more of what it truly means to have a heart filled with faithfulness and peace. We will naturally see more of each of the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.
In the coming weeks, we are going to be looking at a little more at what it means to let our hearts be changed so they more fully embody each fruit of the Spirit. The hope and plan is have several guest authors mixed in so I hope you’ll join us. In the meantime, take some time this week to ponder which fruit God is providing an opportunity for you to grow in during this season of life.
1. One of the ways I learned about the fruit of the spirit as a kid was through music. Personally, an old record called "The Music Machine" is what sticks out most vividly to me from my childhood. You can have a listen for yourself by clicking the video below.
What songs are your favorite to remember the fruit of the spirit?
2. Jon Jorgenson has a great video on YouTube talking about the fruit of the spirit. You can check out his overview by clicking the video below.
He follows this up with a series on each of the fruit. I haven't watched those yet so if you get to them before I do and discover anything particularly helpful, let me know!
3. If you were to rank the fruit of the spirit from least evident in your life to most evident, how would you rank them? Would your family agree? How about your co-workers? What about God? Take some time to ask God to help you better understand the areas which are your weakest this week.