Just like we did when reading the works of the flesh, I encourage you to slow down when reading through the fruit of the Spirit. Don’t speed through it, especially if you have it memorized. Hang on to every word. Invite God to examine your heart and life and expose anything that is improper. Let’s go slow and honestly look at our lives for the precious fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Years ago, I worked with preschoolers at a Christian school. The fruit of the Spirit was one of those things that we taught those precious three and four-year-olds. Looking back now, I think it’s really impressive that we attempted to explain such a big concept to kids—I have a hard enough time understanding what this means as an adult.
The reason why I remember this part of the curriculum so clearly is that we had them color a coloring page that had each fruit of the Spirit listed. Love was in an apple, joy in a pear, peace in a pineapple, etc. Each characteristic was typed in a different fruit. And that coloring sheet is exactly how I used to view the fruit of the Spirit. I saw it as separate fruit that could be selected as you wished.
The fruit of the Spirit is one fruit with nine characteristics.
It’s not nine separate types of fruit.
If I could go back, I would try to find a different coloring sheet for the kids. Maybe something like an orange with the words in each different slice. That’s a more accurate view of what the fruit of the Spirit really is.
We don’t get to dictate to God that we would like to have more peace but he can hold the self-control. Or we want joy, but not that love stuff. When we are led by the Spirit, then all nine of these grow in our lives, not just the ones that we want. And when this fruit grows in our lives, then we can’t help but draw nearer to God and to others.
Reading through this list, I am reminded of the life of Jesus. He displayed the fruit of the Spirit so perfectly as he interacted with the people around him. He was selfless and kind to those who humbly came to him. He issued the radical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, stipulating that your neighbor is everyone, not just the people you like. He had joy in the midst of suffering and walked in perfect peace.
Sometimes I struggle with abstract concepts and I can get caught up in definitions. I’m sure if I were to poll 100 people what each of the nine characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit looks like, I would get many different answers. So that’s why I keep looking to Jesus as a clear model for how the fruit of the Spirit practically looks in our lives.
My life doesn’t look like Jesus, but the more time I spend with him and allow the Holy Spirit to do his sanctifying work, the more I start to display these characteristics. I’m not perfect, but, thankfully, that’s not the goal.
Does anything stand out to you about the fruit of the Spirit?
How does looking at the life of Jesus change how you live?