The longer I do a weekly blog, the more I’m aware there’s so much out there I’d like to write about. Ideas seem to foster more ideas. But there’s only so much time and so many hours within a day. So in beginning a new series, I have to say that I have been excited about this subject for a long time. It’s honestly been a year in the making. But in God’s timing, it just hadn’t worked out to physically sit down and dive into this topic.
An overarching theme I have in all that I do is to see people grow and be strengthened in their journey with Christ. “Equip” and “encourage” are two words that have become a very big motivation behind this blog. And they are words I’m asking as I write, sing, and otherwise follow a path of ministry: is what I’m doing a means to equip and/or encourage?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23
The fruit of the Spirit is a topic I’ve wanted to discuss because it gives us some clear markers in terms of what we are after in Christ. Fruit is a by-product of righteous living and all throughout the Bible, we read verses pertaining to fruit in terms of our depth (or lack thereof) in Jesus. I was surprised to do a Bible word search and actually see how often fruit is mentioned in this context. There are literally dozens of “fruit appearances.” Here are some examples:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. James 3:17
But now, since you have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life! Romans 6:22
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. John 15:5
Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. Matthew 7:19,20
The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. Isaiah 37:31
His delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Psalm 1:2,3
As I read such verses and then reflect back on Galatians 5:22,23, I see that fruit is measurement of maturity. If we are in Christ, today shouldn’t look like yesterday and tomorrow shouldn’t look like today. There is a continual growth process that must be going on. The growth happens with cultivating spiritual habits (prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship) and being willing to not settle for “good enough” in our Christian walk. The point at which we settle is the point we start to stagnate and decline. Growth never stops this side of eternity. It is ongoing and lifelong.
What I’ve endeavored to do in this series is to go week-by-week, looking at the list of fruits Paul has given us in Galatians 5. Being there are nine items listed, this series will span nine weeks (10 with this introduction). My hope is to cover the first four topics this spring, take a break, and then resume with the final five in the fall. In being as practical as possible, I hope to center on the life of Christ and how He embodied the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus perfectly displays and models these fruits for us. He is our aim and our ultimate goal as we look to say “how can I exhibit love, how can I exhibit joy?…” and so on.
Here’s a few quick takeaways before I end this week. Hopefully this whets your appetite for the fruit discussion we are coming into (see what I did there?):
1. We are all called to bear fruit—The Bible is pretty clear on this as already outlined above. But there is a strong temptation to believe that only some can bear fruit or that the fruit others possess is better than our own. This is totally a lie and must be refuted. We are all called to produce something and God is at work in us through the Holy Spirit producing results as we yield to Him.
2. When we bear fruit, we will be pruned—It’s a reverse of what we’d expect, but it’s true. When we start to bear fruit, we undergo the “pruning” process, meaning God starts to cut away so that more fruit will be produced. This a concept used in horticulture and it works. Spiritually-speaking, it works as well but it can be a painful process of submission and allowing God to use his pruning blade upon our lives.
3. Fruit is the evidence of a spirit-filled life—If a Christian is not bearing fruit in their lives, it begs the question “Is the Holy Spirit residing within them?” I cannot judge another person’s heart; that’s God’s job. But the existence or absence of fruit tells a lot about where a person is at in their walk with Jesus. No fruit most certainly signals a lack of depth and faith. Fruit and pruning are evidences that God is at work, the Spirit is producing signs of growth.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to start this series! I know this introduction is a bit less application and more overview, but please bear with me. We will be getting into application. And I know it will be challenging; both for me to write and for any of us to apply. Any discussion on this topic should be motivating and challenging. If we’re not being led there, then I have no business even bringing up this matter. But what I challenge you with over the next few weeks, I challenge myself with as well. We are called to bear fruit and Galatians 5 shows us what that fruit should look like.
As always, I’m so grateful to be on a journey with you, knowing God is leading and guiding from week to week. Our goal in all of this is to bring Him glory. Let’s learn how we can bear fruit, even much fruit and in so doing, honor Him as Lord.
I would love to hear from you!