Have you ever found yourself saying these things…”Today I am going to try really really hard to have patience…” or “Tomorrow I will do better…” or “I must have better self control…” or “I need to channel my inner peace – I can do this…” There is some good news – we don’t have to find the inner strength on our own to achieve these things.
These qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are the result of being connected to the vine. They are not our doing, but the result of being connected daily to Jesus – our source of sustenance and growth.
Some things I have learned from my own fruit trees and olive trees…
1. Fruit is a result of plant growth – a lot of growing happens in a person before some fruits of the spirit appear. We must not judge someone because of the apparent lack of fruit – they might be putting a lot of time into growing in the Spirit. Just like I don’t despise my little feijoa bush that failed to produce fruit this year, however I can see the extra foliage and if we could see in the soil, growth would have been put into the roots to anchor the plant.
2. Fruit takes time, not all fruit ripen at the same time. – let’s not rush the spirit. He works on different fruits of the spirit at different times. Some Fruits of the Spirit will be a life long journey.
3. Fruit ripens in its own season – our lives go through seasons, and we must be kind to ourselves and recognise these seasons – but still remain in Jesus while going through apparently “dormant” times.
4. Fruit allowed to ripen on the tree is often bigger and much sweeter – allow the Spirit to work gently, sometimes slowly to produce the best fruit.
5. The branch cannot produce fruit on its own. We must be connected to Jesus. He is the vine, we are the branches. We are not a stand-alone tree, we are not created or called to be apart from Jesus. Jesus is the vine – our anchor, our sustenance, the very reason why we bear fruit. We can’t do it on our own (as much as we desperately try to do it on our own). Our priority to bearing fruit is to remain in the vine – staying connected to Jesus. Daily.
John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
6. The branch must rely on nourishment from the soil, sun and sometimes thrives from having the protection of being close to other plants. We are created for community – relationships – each other. While our loved ones are vulnerable, maybe fighting to bear fruit, or dealing with pruning, our close proximity can help them thrive. Our encouraging words, our presence and prayers can be enough to support each other as we all grow.
7. Fruit is not produced as a stand alone thing – there are many cellular processes happening at once to bear fruit. Know that to bear fruit there are things that happen on the inside to shape our outward responses. God is interested in pruning our heart, motives, thought patterns. These things that are deep in our souls are often being moulded without anyone seeing what is happening. Have patience with people as there may be some real heart-shaping happening to produce some fruit.
8. Pruning is a must – Sometimes God prunes us quite heavily. Sometimes the pruning is to get rid of dead wood, other times pruning is getting rid of the unwanted to improve growth. With pruning comes better growth in the spring, larger and better fruit. Before pruning one might have still produced fruit, however with pruning that fruit becomes even better. Pruning can hurt, but take comfort that in the pain comes shaping of character for eternity – and not just the shaping of our character for our benefit, but for the benefit of everyone we influence.
9. The best fruit is the fruit you give away. There is satisfaction saying to someone “here – have this fruit…I helped my plant grow it…” People will see Jesus when they see the fruits of the spirit in our lives. The fruits are an expression of Jesus himself!
10. Fruit are amazing packages, that have the possibility of growing more plants. And as teachers, parents, colleagues, ministers, wherever we work – when we show patience, kindness, goodness and so forth, we are spurring on the development of fruit in everyone we influence. There is power in sharing our journey – there is nothing powerful about having the perfect journey – none of us have that – and that would be lying. The power comes when we can be honest and vulnerable and say, ‘yeah I struggle…and this is what I am doing at the moment to cope’. There is power in saying “i don’t have it all together, but I know my Saviour who does have it all together.” There is freedom in saying “yep I am a work in progress, but God is my gardener and I am connected to the most solid trunk that has the most epic roots ever – Jesus!
It is time to let Jesus be our foundation, our source of strength. It is time to allow God to prune and shape us. It is time to trust the process, and share with others that we don’t have to struggle alone. It is time to encourage others and be happy with the most beautiful, juicy, sweet fruit that comes in the right season. Our priority is to be connected to the vine, and not rely on our own strength. Connect with Jesus and allow his Spirit to flow through you and into everything you do. Thank Him and praise Him for the love you show to others, the joy you find in life, the peace you have in difficult situations, the patience you find from the depth of your soul, the kindness you show to complete strangers ‘just because’, the goodness of your heart, faithfulness you show to others and to your God, gentleness that you show to others, and the times you show self control of thoughts, words and actions. These are times to celebrate…the harvest.