But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
I like to joke about my name when reading this verse, “Look! ‘Joy!’ I’m a FRUIT! That explains SO MUCH!”
I’ve been known to comment that I can get a million jokes out of my name, all pretty lame.
Still, this is a pretty familiar verse to many who’ve studied scripture. I remember a picture on the wall at a friends house growing up that listed these characteristics in a heart patchwork. It’s one of those basic memory verses.
But what does it mean?
So many times I think we look at this scripture and just kind of skim over the meaning. If Christ is in you, than you should be producing these “fruits.” But the hows and whys are not really addressed. It’s a muddled idea that typically ends with the thought that if you aren’t producing these fruits than maybe you aren’t really saved, or are not spiritual enough. But still you are left kind of muddled on the “how” you are supposed to produce these fruits, you figure they must just magically appear or something.
After all, fruit on a tree is a process of natural growth right? So if everything is lined up in your life and you’re “good enough,” then these fruits should just…. grow…
Well…. Kind of.
I’ve often talked about how Love is a choice. How Love is an action word and a decision you make, not just something that happens naturally, but something you choose to act on, choose to grow in your life.
I’ve also mentioned that I believe Joy is also a choice, an action word, something you choose to abide in by keeping your focus off yourself and focusing on others and on Christ.
Wait just a second! Those are the first two “fruits!”
So let me ask you, does it follow with the rest?
Is peace a choice? We tend to think that it isn’t, we tend to think that peace is dependent on our circumstances, but the Bible talks about a peace that is beyond understanding doesn’t it? A peace that is NOT dependent on circumstance.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
So it seems peace too is an action. By choosing to hand your anxiety over to God and focus on Him, we receive peace. This too is an action word, a choice.
Forbearance, or Patience, is something you must practice in order to have, and though it might seem in short supply at times, again, its an action on our part.
Goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, all actions! Self-control is difficult, but it is also a discipline. An action. A choice.
All of these actions spring out of a heart focused on Christ, they spring out of His Spirit! But they are not things that require no investment on our part! If we could understand this it might very well revolutionize our lives!
Because our faith, my friend, is not something we are called to be passive about.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13
We are called to so much more, my friends! So much more full a life! But this isn’t something passive that just “happens.” The Life that God calls us to is something we must chase with all of our hearts! And we chase it by chasing Christ!
We are called to love with action and intention! Called to have joy that is deep and abiding! Called to have peace so solid that people just don’t understand! A patience in all circumstances that reaches out and touches lost souls whom no one else had the patience to reach! To be good, faithful, and gentle to those who are hurting! To be self-controlled in all of this, even when someone strikes out against us, understanding that we are in a fight for their souls!
Is this an easy thing? Something that just happens without our input? No. In fact, living this kind of life can be a day by day battle. A day by day passion. We may fail some days. In fact I guarantee we will fail some days.
We will have days when we will not love well enough.
We will have days where we let go of our joy.
We will have days where we let go of our peace.
But this shouldn’t discourage us, but rather encourage. Because we do have a choice, and we can pick ourselves up, fix our eyes on Christ, and continue to run our race towards Him.
Learning to Love. Learning to hold onto Joy. Learning to submit to Him in Peace. Learning to be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.
Learning to take action, and reach the lost.
Come on my friend, let’s chase after Christ and live a life of abundant fruit!
~Joy Aletheia Stevens