Thursday, January 12, 2012
For the last couple of years I have been contemplating the words of Galatians 5:23
But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (long-suffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Throughout the Bible, many growing things have been used to illustrate points that God wants to make. Even Jonah got a dose with the plant God “grew up” to shelter him and then let die to remind Jonah who was in charge of all life. Jesus often used references to grain, grape vines and trees to illustrate for us the growth that should occur in our lives.
In this verse from Galatians, Paul speaks of fruit. How fitting is that. Grain and many other food sources have to be replanted year after year. Perennials, like fruit trees and other fruit plants are planted with the ability to grow, “die,” and regenerate themselves year after year.
Think about it. We have been planted into the body of Christ and we have been given the power to grow, relentlessly, again and again, more and more. The Vine is secure and will support us through His own death and resurrection perennially growing us, through storm and through calm.
As I researched Johnny Appleseed one day, I began to see something very special about the Fruit of the Spirit. It is ours from the day we are saved, but is not something that demands an immediate, totally different person to come on the scene. It is something that grows in us as we feed it and pay attention to it. It was 2 1/2 years of struggling with getting rid of the old and putting on the new before I saw a glimmer of the new person that God is growing in me. “Even so, come Lord Jesus” that I might be truly rid of the old.
The first fruit that showed in my life was Love. Interestingly enough, that is also the first fruit listed. I believe that when I finally surrendered my life in repentance over the way I had been living, God dumped a big load of sin out of me and that allowed the Holy Spirit to get back to work growing me. He filled the “hole” that was left with Love. For the first time in my life, I was able to love other people. And I felt love from others. But the sad truth is that sometimes I do not “automatically” love others. Sometimes I have to choose to love. I even have to pray for the ability to love certain people that come into my life. But what great Joy there is in seeing them through God’s eyes of love.
Joy? Yes. Joy, the “next” fruit in the list. Joy grows from our response to God’s Love and guidance. At this point I am seeing a tree growing. He did say that we are like trees planted by “living” water, a river of it. Consider the living but dead looking winter fruit tree. Will it suddenly go from lacking any sign of life to full of ready to pick fruit over night? No. It is fully prepared to grow fruit, but it will take time. First it will grow buds and leaves, then it will blossom and finally it will produce the fruit and that fruit will grow to be large and ripe and ready to pick. It takes awhile.
May we be patient as God grows us through each new season of our lives. The harvest is worth it More later...
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For, if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8