If you’re like me and grew up in the Church, you’ve probably heard these verses a few times. You probably memorized them. Maybe you even did activities related to the fruit of the Spirit. Reading this passage recently, though, I realized something. It’s not about attempting these attitudes on our own. It’s about drawing near to God and letting His Spirit fill our lives.
Too often, I treat this list in Galatians as a checklist: I was patient yesterday, so I’ll work on goodness today. It makes me think of Benjamin Franklin, who had a literal checklist just like that for virtues. It doesn’t work like that, though. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit, which is a) singular, a package deal, and b) a result, not an action.
A Package Deal – As the phrase “fruit…is” implies, we can’t really separate the fruit; it comes together. Love, joy, and all the rest are not separate fruits to work on. They are one fruit that all works in tandem. Not perfectly, of course; we are human, after all. But if I’m growing in patience, I’m becoming more gentle, too. Think about it: as you become a more loving person, are you becoming less self-controlled? Of course not. Progress in one area is progress in another. Now, of course, we all struggle with some aspect of this more than others. Some may struggle being faithful, while others have difficulty being patient. Like I said, we’re human. But if you’re growing in closeness to God, all the fruit will begin to grow.
A Result – I can’t force these virtues on my own. Sometimes I wish I could, but that’s not the point. Fruit grows as a result of a healthy plant. The fruit of the Spirit is no different. It flowers when my life is connected to the Source of Life. Without being connected to God, that fruit is not going to develop. He’s the One Who makes it grow, not me. I want to seek Him with all my heart, to stop concentrating on trying to become a better person in my own strength. I just keep failing when I try it that way. He brings love and goodness into my life. He grows the fruit of the Spirit.
What do you think about the fruit of the Spirit? Have you ever tried to treat it like a checklist? Let me know in the comments!