My lemon tree bloomed again this year, tons of tiny white blossoms with minuscule lemons sprouting inside them. Lemons that never grew large enough to be of use to anyone. The flowers were pretty, but I admit I was disappointed. I wanted lemons that I could squeeze into an icy pitcher of lemonade, drizzle onto tabouleh, and serve with baked chicken.
Most of us know this about fruit: if we can’t eat it, it’s not worth much.
And this is true, also, of the fruit that we are called to bear in our Christian walk. It’s only worth something if it’s capable of nourishing those around us.
We know, as believers, that we’re supposed to bear fruit. We’re even told what the fruit will look like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV). But sometimes we lose track of how that works in our everyday lives. We trick ourselves into thinking that fruit is another thing on our To-Do list that we can simply check off. This week we’ll work on gentleness. Next week: self-control.
We forget that the fruit of the Spirit is the literal evidence of the Spirit of God working in our lives for a purpose. It is meant to nourish and strengthen and satisfy those around us in the same way that we are meant to be nourished and strengthened and satisfied by the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
We also forget that the production of fruit isn’t something we have to force ourselves to do. Rather, as we sink more and more deeply into Jesus, connecting to the Vine through prayer and the reading of the Word and the fellowship of the Church, letting the sap of the Spirit flow through us, fruit is a natural byproduct. We don’t have to work to bear fruit any more than we have to work to earn our own salvation.
No, when the Spirit of God is living and active inside of us, we inevitably bear fruit. And when that fruit is full grown, it will be far more than just ornamental: it will be spiritual food providing sustenance for those around us.
It might be patience that will feed our children. Faithfulness to feed our spouses. Kindness to feed our neighbors. Joy to feed our co-workers. The fruit of the Spirit born in us will enable growth, energy, encouragement, life not just in our own lives but in the lives of those around us, because it won’t just be a trait we trot out to make ourselves look and feel good but the evidence of the Holy Spirit working within us.
So today, what is the fruit you have to offer from your nearness to Christ? Is it a calm and quiet heart that can listen well to the grieving? Is it gentleness to offer to one who is broken? Is it the wisdom that comes from regular hours with Jesus that could be timely for a worrier? Is it Christ in you, pouring out to slake the hunger and thirst of those around you?
May we root ourselves deeply into Christ, so that we have the opportunity to answer that question in surprising ways, the opportunity to bear nourishing fruit that we could never have anticipated. Those around us are hungry. May they taste and see what the Lord has done in us.
About the Author:
Marian Frizzell entertains herself by bopping from one side of the US to the other with her military husband and their myriad military children. When she’s not unpacking the five hundred boxes of books she insists on owning, she homeschools aforementioned children (making sure to teach them about the country where she grew up), writes books she hopes will one day get published (and keeps up a blog), goes running to maintain her sanity (what’s left of it), and strives to encourage those around her (making them laugh is a bonus). She loves Jesus and wants to reflect his light. You can read her writing at www.marianfrizzell.com and follow her on Instagram as @marianfrizzell or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marianfrizzellwriter.
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