Raised in the church as a PK (pastor’s kid), I was often challenged to memorize the “fruit of the Spirit”. Maybe my parents and teachers believed if I said it often enough that I’d absorb it and that through their prayers and my repetition, I’d eventually begin displaying them? Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
All my life I have pondered that list and considered them as separate, independent virtues that needed focus and greater display in my life. Of course at times I’ve thought I was pretty good at some and not-so-good at others depending on my own circumstances. But there was always that one, that last one, that haunted me. It just seemed harder to achieve than the others and truthfully I wished it wasn’t on the list. And more than anything, I thought it was up to me to be better at each and every virtue listed. But after listening to a sermon by Tim Keller on Change, I understand this differently.
The fruit of the Spirit isn’t a list of traits for me to work on after all. It’s one, interdependent display of God’s beauty through his Spirit that lives in me and you. It’s not up to us to struggle with behavior modification, but rather to give up our sinful nature and give in to the Spirit’s desires for our lives. In doing so, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be evident.
What a freeing thought! This is the exact opposite of the non-biblical mantra I had adopted in my life and career. It’s actually NOT up to me after all! Whew! Thank you Jesus!
Galatians 24-25 says: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Lisa Schultz, Founder and Chief Encouragement Officer