“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22–23, 25 (Bearing Fruit Series)
Someone once described the difference between knowledge and wisdom like this: Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. There is a difference between knowing something and knowing what to do with what you know. The list of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is familiar to many of us. My kids have even been singing about the fruit of the Spirit lately (and I cannot get their song out of my head!). There is a difference, however, between being able to list the fruit of the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
As analogies go, this one is fairly straight forward. The Spirit in this case is likened to a tree that bears fruit. Think of an apple tree or orange tree. When the tree is mature and living according to its purpose, it produces fruit. That, says Paul, is what we should do, too.
As those who follow Christ, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Like an apple seed planted in the soil, the Spirit of God is planted in us; as we grow and mature, the Spirit bears fruit. This is one of the best ways to measure your spiritual journey. Stop and take a look at what kind of fruit is coming out of your life.
In the earlier portion of Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul writes about the fruit of the flesh (and here, broadly speaking, he is setting up two opposites: the Spirit — which we cannot see — against the flesh, which represents all that we can see and touch; I don’t believe Paul means to say that our bodies themselves are evil… again, that’s a discussion for another day!) For Paul, the message is clear. We as people are going to bear fruit: the question is, what kind? It will either be the fruit of the Spirit, or it will be the fruit of selfishness.
It can be hard to look at your own life and judge the quality of your own fruit. We tend to either overestimate our goodness or beat ourselves up more than we ought to. This is why our community together as a church, as the body of Christ, is so important. We need to have people in our lives to help us see what fruit we’re bearing and what quality it is.
Over the next several weeks we are going to take a look at the different fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5 and examine what that fruit might look like in our lives. It is my hope that we will all discover some good fruit in our lives and, if not, begin to prune out the bad and figure out ways to cultivate the what God is trying to do in and through us.