God’s Great Orchard: A Journey Through the Fruits of the Spirit- Introduction

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22
        The fruit of the spirit. A concept we as Christians learn about usually very early on, but one that we so often forget. I would guess that there are probably more Christians who can sing that old Fruit of the Spirit Sunday-school song than there are that can quote the verse that this idea comes from, Galatians 5:22. And yet, despite how often we hear the term, I think it’s easy for us to forget the real meaning and truth behind the fruit of the spirit. It’s a powerful idea that should make a big impact on our lives. Just knowing the verse or the song does us no good if we don’t live it out.
        For this reason, for the next couple of weeks we’re going to be going through a series on these fruits. I finished my series on love just about a month ago, and now it’s time to get another one started. Each post will highlight one “fruit-” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I will, however, be skipping love, because of all the time we just spent on that one.
        In this introductory post, I want to take a closer look at the idea of the fruit of the spirit as a whole, what it means, why it matters, and how it should impact us.
        So what is the concept behind the so-called “fruit” of the spirit, and what does it mean? Well, if we look at the context around Galatians 5:22, it’s talking about lifestyle. In other words, those things that really mark a person, the personality traits that people identify with. Paul is comparing worldly, sinful character traits- things like hate, lust, greed, and so on- with Godly character traits that should mark Christians. He refers to these attributes as the fruit of the spirit.
What does Paul mean by this term, “fruit of the spirit?” Well, let’s look at another passage that uses similar terminology- John 15. John 15:1-2 and 4-8 says this:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit… Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
        Wow. Quite a mouthful. But as we can see, that same “fruit” terminology is used throughout. Both Paul and Jesus refer to us bearing fruit, and both recognize that in order to bear this fruit we must be living for Christ, living in the Spirit. But what is this fruit, and where does it come from? Well, in these passages, this fruit is referring, as we said before, to certain character attributes that result from being God’s children. As Christians, we are supposed to bear this fruit, or produce these character traits. When people see the way we live, they should notice things like love, joy, peace, and patience shining through. These should be the mark of our lives.
But in both Galatians 1 and John 15, we see that in order to bear this fruit, we must be living “in the Spirit,” or “abiding in Christ.” And in John 15, we see that God removes from our lives those things that prevent us from bearing fruit. Sometimes this hurts. Sometimes we don’t want to give up these things. But in order to bear the fruit of the Spirit, rather than the fruit of the world, we need to give up the fruit of the world and abide in Christ.
So how should this impact us in our daily lives? First and foremost, it should remind us that in order to live a Godly lifestyle, we must have a close relationship to God. We can’t try to live “good lives” apart from Him. As Jesus said, “Apart from me (Jesus) you can do nothing.” In other words, as Christians, we should all have the desire to live in a Godly manner. And these verses and the whole concept of the “fruit” of the Spirit should show us that the most important ingredient in the recipe of living for God is walking with God and having a close relationship with Him.
I’m excited to dig deeper into each individual aspect of the nine fruits of the Spirit. I pray that it will be as impacting to you as I’m sure it will be to me.

Blessings in Christ,
Ben V.

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