For the past three months, you and I have been on quite the adventure—a journey through the fruit of the Spirit. We’ve hopefully been challenged and comforted by the truths in God’s Word that we’ve uncovered. We’ve hopefully strengthened some spiritual muscles and grown in our desire to “remain,” “stay connected to,” and “abide” in Christ.
But what happens when we don’t see the fruit? What do we do when it seems like our fruit is scare instead of abundant? What then?
For the past three months, I’ve been deep in the Word studying these nine virtues. If I’m honest, I’ve been deeply convicted by what seems to be a lack of all nine of these fruit in my life. Sure, there are days when I can recognize joy flowing out of me. There are times when my responses are more patient than others. But, if I’m truly honest, I struggle to see a consistent “bearing of much fruit” in my life in all nine of these ways.
- Love: a “you before me” mentality, your needs before my own
- Joy: keen pleasure, elation, delight that is found fully in the presence of the Lord
- Peace: the absence of chaos
- Patience: waiting with a happy heart
- Kindness: a sacrificial giving of self for the good of someone else
- Goodness: moral excellence; virtue
- Faithfulness: steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant, true to one’s word, trusted
- Gentleness: meek, power under control
- Self-control: control or restraint of oneself, one’s thoughts, actions, or feelings
Wow. As I sit and stare at these reminders, I’m struck with such a wonder that only Jesus Christ models all nine of these in absolute perfection. Think about that for a minute. So, if you and I want even a fraction more of patience today, why on earth wouldn’t we go directly to the perfect source of it? If we are feeling low on joy, why would we think we could find anything worth searching for to fill that void apart from the perfect presence of Jesus Christ? If we are lacking in the peace department and our lives are feeling far more disturbed and chaotic than we can bear, why wouldn’t we go to the Prince of Peace for a filling?
One truth that keeps popping into my mind today is that fruit takes time to grow. Am I right? An orange doesn’t grow overnight. Neither does faithfulness. It takes time. But I will tell you this, when the conditions are right, that orange will not only grow, but it’s going to be so sweet to taste when it’s ready.
The same is true for me and you. The best conditions for our growth in these virtues is being planted right next to Jesus’ side. Face down in His Word. In community with His people. Found on our knees in prayer.
Even when we don’t feel like it. Even when life seems too busy to make room for it. Even when everything seems stacked against us.
Even then, my friend, Jesus is calling. He’s inviting. He’s longing for us to choose Him over the noise, over the lists, over the clamor, over the demands. He never stops calling. He never stops inviting us back in. Because He knows how sweet that fruit will be when we just stay awhile with Him.