If you could only eat one fruit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My first thought is of this luscious peach, plucked in its prime in Sirince, Turkey. Sun-warmed and juicy, each bite nearly dissolved on its own accord. We enjoyed other fruit in the generous shade of a courtyard tree. Somehow memories of that near-perfect day are wrapped up in that one sweet peach.
Even so, peaches would not long satisfy. I’d miss plump blackberries on my oatmeal; a crisp apple with my lunch. Sweet melons. Tangy oranges. Tart black currants. If only there was one perfect fruit.
Ah, but there is. Galatians 5:22-23 speaks of the fruit of the Spirit.* This fruit is truly amazing.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Don’t we all want to be like that — loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled? I imagine that girl doesn’t lose her temper, or roll her eyes in impatience, or insist on having her way. (No, that sounds more like me.) That girl serves others with joy. She’s kind and gentle. She exudes peace.
She is not caught up in checklists or micro-managing, as Paul expounds. The Galatians were leaning on legalism instead of Jesus. (I know about that trap, too).That girl seeks an authentic faith. She follows after God and lives to please Him. She lives freely by grace, leaning on a living God. That freedom is a glorious thing. That’s the girl I aspire to be!
I want to be like her all day long but I’m not.
Yesterday I was complaining about someone who’d irked me. Even as the words spilled out, I felt the prick of my conscience. Don’t even say it. I paused a split second, then plunged ahead. Another prick. What is there to gain in this complaint? I stopped myself then, acknowledging the prompt of the indwelling Spirit. Does pointing out her faults make you the better person? No, it does not.
My a-ha moment came in realizing I cannot pick and choose my fruit factors. As a Christian, I’m accountable for the fruit of the Spirit in its entirety. If only I was more eager to listen to correction. God’s Spirit is so gracious. Even in failure, I am encouraged.
In the sweetest of all ironies, when I abide, the fruit of the Spirit in my life ripens a bit.
I think this must be what the prophet, Jeremiah, meant in proclaiming blessings on those who trust in the Lord. Jeremiah and the psalmist both use a fruitful tree as a word-picture of a life well-lived.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jer. 17:7-8)
I want to be like that tree. Jesus said His followers are known by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). There’s no faking it! Only through the help of His Spirit do we become more like Him. Jesus also referred to the Spirit in terms of living water, so essential to the tree for producing fruit through the seasons (John 7:37-39). It’s the circle of life in the Spirit.
I attended a memorial service this week for a man who understood how to grow good fruit. Mr. Randall passed over just shy of his 101st birthday. His legacy is that of a the strong tree, rooted deeply near the stream. His victorious life bore evidence of the sweetest fruit of the Spirit. I am inspired to be that tree, to produce that fruit. How about you?
*Credit to my friend and study-buddy, Kim T., for pointing out the singularity of this fruit.