The Promise of Fruitfulness
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
One of the great delights of children is to find the ‘Pick and Mix’ counter when out shopping with their parents. These counters (strategically placed by the entrance or the cash desk to produce maximum enticement!) are full of a dazzling and colourful array of various kinds of sweets. Armed with tongs or scoop, you pick out what you want, and leave the rest. The end result is a bag of sweets (always weighing far more than you thought!) made up of just your favourite things.
While picking sweets like this might be great fun, it is a disastrous way to live our Christian life – picking out those bits that we like and leaving the rest. That is why Paul wrote about the fruit (singular), not the fruits (plural), of the Spirit. For Paul, the nine things he lists are not nine separate fruits, but just one. Unlike our Pick and Mix counter, you can’t take some and leave others; they all belong together for they are all what God is looking to grow in us through his Holy Spirit. The ‘fruit’ of the Spirit’ are those things that grow naturally if only we will let him be in control.
‘Fruit’ finds expression in a number of ways in the New Testament: through the life we live, the words we speak, the service we offer, the prayers we pray, the witness we bear, the gifts we give. In fact, bearing this sort of fruit is so natural to God’s people that, throughout the Bible, fruit-less-ness is seen as something shameful. But with the Spirit helping us, there is simply no need for it. In fact Jesus said that, ‘A good tree cannot bear bad fruit’ (Matthew 7:18)’ – it’s impossible! On the contrary, if we abide in him, we will bear much fruit.
God’s promise to us is that, as we abide in Jesus, we will be fruitful. Why not pray through Paul’s list of nine Christ-like characteristics and ask that God will help you show each one of them today.
‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont