Today on my Making Space Monday (for God that is!) I want to discuss how impossible it seems to grow fruit. Now I don’t mean fruit such as what grows on trees but fruit that grows in our hearts. Paul called this collectively “fruit” of the Spirit.
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 don’t know about you, but I think it may be easier to grow fruit trees than to grow the fruit of the spirit. However I do have a Myers lemon tree in my back yard that I was so proud of until I realized it’s been a year and a half with no fruit. I digress…
The Christian life is empowered by the Holy Spirit, but must be cultivated by our intentionality. For example, we can desire to be patient, and then never activate patience. We can hope to be more loving, however, we find that we only love those who are likable. My point is, that we are powerless to exhibit these qualities apart from a work of the Spirit within us and that requires that we surrender.
During my quiet time yesterday, I prayed for patience with my husband and by the time he left for work I was impatient. We are powerless apart from God to exhibit the fruit of the spirit. The inner life of a Christian is where the work is done. It is time spent in the Word, a two-edged sword that cuts away our dead branches so that new ones can grow. It’s time spent in prayer and repentance, making space for the old to go and the new to be birthed.
The fruit of the spirit is available, but needs to be cultivated and that takes time. So for all of you impatient people who prefer drive-thrus, you may have to go inside– to the inner space of your life and allow the Holy Spirit to do some digging, fertilizing and watering of your soul.
Raising children, our jobs, and our relationships, are all tests to see what is inside. Paul puts it this way:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in his heart. For the mouth speaks what our hearts are full of. (Luke 6:45)
Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)
Pretty straightforward. What’s inside of us, comes out.
Here is the good news. We all fall short. We all find ourselves at the end of the day wondering why we said or did certain things when we were determined to exhibit the fruit of the spirit. We simply cannot be perfect, but we can take those things and ask the Master Gardener to till up the soil of our hearts and replace fruitless seeds with good seeds. We can make space for God to do a work in us and we can go to Him in repentance when we blow it. Day by day, the Holy Spirit plants seeds in the soil of our hearts to the degree that we surrender and spend time with Him.
Friends, a garden takes time to grow. It requires a lot of work and skill. We cannot do it without God’s power and we cannot do it without our willing hearts. Together, let us determine to start a gardening project in our hearts. In due season we will see a harvest of fruit — spiritual fruit in our lives. And those around us will not only be blessed, but they too will want to join you as a fellow gardener.