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. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
In the last few years, I have taken up gardening. I hesitate to describe myself as a gardener because I have had many more failures than successes. Learning the needs and demands of different herbs, plants and bushes could easily become a fulltime job. Yet, nonetheless, the amateur horticulture I have undertaken has given me a new appreciation for the labor it is to bear fruit. It takes work, it takes weeding, and it takes knowing whether to water or to fertilize, mulch or re-pot. Yet, there is so much joy when the fruit does come–the cayenne pepper or habanero, the turk’s cap or roselle, and (fingers crossed!) this year I might even harvest my very first limes.
Galatians 5 talks about fruit borne of the Spirit of God. As Christians, you and I have the power of God’s Spirit within us and each are called to surrender to His lead: to do some spiritual weeding, to pull out those things in our lives that speak of kingdoms other than God’s (see Galatians 5:19-21 for a list) and so ‘crucify the flesh.’ Yet, we do not deal with sin for its own sake. We do the work of weeding out sin in order for the Spirit to bear within us the characteristics of our Savior: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness… and so on. The Spirit weeds in order to plant, He prunes for the sake of fruit—and growth into the likeness of Jesus our Savior.
This Lent, in our Daily Words, we are going to reflect on each of those nine fruits of the Spirit several times though and consider what this fruit looks like; and so also reflect as to where our hearts need attention, where we are overrun with weeds, where our fruit-bearing is being choked and where we need His mercy in our lives.
And as we start, we are reminded that the work of the Christian, both in the world and within our prayers, is one to be done in love; not with force or coercion, not with brow-beating or self-punishment, but with love: God’s unyielding love that cares for us in our weakness, our brokenness and even our sin. And who, in His love, has sent His Spirit to be our Leader and our Guide. Any work that is done in His name without love, even the work we do for Him, if done without love is a waste of our breath, our energies and our talents. Love is where we start, for love starts with God.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3