I have a fruit grower in my life. In fact, like with all of us, I have a few. But one in particular presents me with regular challenges that test me no end. I used to ask, and sometimes still do, especially when feeling low, why this happens to me. I used to think that it was my punishment for making bad choices in the past and straying from God. It was my lot in life, that kind of thinking. But I have come to realise that I have been forgiven of my past wrongs and God is glad that I am walking with Him again. God is love, so nothing bad comes from Him. So, my fruit grower is actually a blessing, despite the hardship and angst that I endure at times.
This then brings me to consider what fruits of the Spirit are being developed in me through my dealings with this person. The fruits are outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 –
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit that I know is being developed in me. Controlling my thoughts, my tongue and my actions is imperative to being a child of God. Psalm 141:3 is a verse that I need to memorise to remember to “set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
As self-control leads onto perseverance (2 Peter 1:6), I am then brought to the next virtue that I know I have needed help with (and still do!), and that is patience. It’s not always easy to just let God do His thing. It’s also not easy for others understand where you’re at in life, especially as Christians, and it’s not always easy to understand how others think, and why they think as they do. It is important, however, to pray that God gives us the gift of patience so we can live with others peacefully (Romans 15:5, Ephesians 4:2).
Developing patience helps me to grow such fruits as gentleness, humility and kindness. I am learning to take the needs and limitations of others (as well as my own!) into consideration more and strive to display the very qualities that Jesus showed. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.
These qualities, although hard to show towards my fruit grower at times, are vital in my walk with God. Trusting in God and His wonderful power is the only way to live. After all, “…with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.
Exploring the fruits of the Spirit brings me to the final two that I know God has enhanced and nurtured in my life – peace and joy. I don’t always get peace, but I do strive to be at peace with others. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18.
Having peace in my heart, and the strength that comes from God because of it (Psalm 29:11), helps me to experience a level of joy in my life that I never felt when I tried to live life with God in the background. I have troubles, especially with my fruit grower, but in every instance I am able to learn from the angst and maintain my joy. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2. And why am I able to maintain my joy? Because…“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” Psalm 16:8-9.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Any hope we have comes from God through the Holy Spirit and cannot come from human effort alone. The fruits of the Spirit come from God. We could strive to just be good people, but as Christians we know the real reason for welcoming fruit growers into our lives; to become more like Christ. I used to wish for an easier existence, but now I pray for more knowledge, more experiences and more opportunities to develop my Christian virtues.
Ruth Bell Graham sums up fruit growers and developing the fruits of the Spirit quite nicely – “Satan uses an occasion or a person to tempt us to fall; God uses the same to make us stronger.”
So, I say thank you to my fruit grower, and urge you to say thank you to yours too. From every bad experience comes a good outcome and we owe it all to living our life with God in it.
(All verses quoted are from the NIV. Galatians 5:22-23 is explained well in The Message and well worth reading. Other verses to read regarding the fruits of the Spirit include 2 Corinthians 6:6, Ephesians 5:9, Colossians 3:12-15 and 2 Peter 1:3-11 (vv5-9).