Fake Plastic Fruit; Lessons on the Fruit of the Spirit
“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 5:22-23
Growing up, my mother decorated our kitchen with a fruit theme. She had fruit-themed wallpaper, fruit shaped refrigerator magnets, and of course, the classic bowl of plastic fruit that served as the kitchen table centerpiece. The bowl contained a collection of fake renditions of some of the most popular fruit. There was an apple, a banana, an orange, a lemon, a pear and a cluster of grapes. I remember the contents of the bowl quite well, because one of my weekly chores was to dust the house, and I remember how difficult it was to dust a fake cluster of grapes! This snapshot from my childhood teaches a great spiritual truth. To avoid living dusty lives, God’s people must bear real and authentic spiritual fruit. If what we display is plastic and fake, it will be quickly detected by others.
In Galatians 5, Paul stressed the importance of putting off the things of the flesh (Vs.16-21) and putting on the things of the Spirit (Vs.22-23). It is in these latter verses we find the fruit of the Spirit, the attributes that mark the believer’s life. This list of Christian character traits clustered together act as the evidence of true conversion. This means we are known by the abundance of fruit (or lack of fruit) in our lives. Jesus taught that we will be known by our fruits (Matthew 7:16) and undoubtedly, there will be plenty of people quick to act as fruit inspectors. With all of these things in mind, let’s consider a few truths about the fruit of the Spirit.
To begin with, the fruit of the Spirit is a package deal. Paul referred to these Christian attributes as “the fruit of the Spirit,” not “the fruits of the Spirit.” The Greek word for fruit is the word “karpos.” Paul uses it in the singular, meaning the fruit is to be seen collectively as a whole. They are not options for the choosing. You cannot embrace kindness and joy while rejecting patience and self-control.
Secondly, some fruit will ripen faster than others. With actual fruit, some will mature more rapidly than others. This is true for the fruit of the Spirit within the life of the believer. For instance, the fruit of patience might flourish while the fruit of gentleness needs more cultivating. The fruit of self-control might ripen more rapidly than the fruit of love. But whatever pattern of growth develops within our life, we must faithfully yield ourselves to God the Gardener as He tills the soil of our heart. And as we readily receive His tilling, we will bear fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15).
Thirdly, we are no fruit producers; we are fruit bearers. This spiritual fruit belongs to the Holy Spirit. This is why they called the fruit “of the Spirit.” This means that we in our own efforts cannot and never will produce spiritual fruit on our own. Instead, we simply bear the fruit that matures as God the Holy Spirit works in our lives.
Finally, we must remember that where there is no root, there is no fruit. To bear luscious spiritual fruit, we must be connected to Jesus the Vine (John 15) which calls for abiding or remaining in Him. However, abiding in Christ must be intentional; for it is an action contrary to human nature. Left to ourselves, we have a tendency to reject any form of dependency, and instead our fleshly desires crave self-sufficiency. But the Christian life calls for submission to God, and submission involves abiding in Christ. Abiding in Jesus the Vine is a spiritual discipline in which we must daily seek to cultivate deep intimacy and fellowship with the Lord. If we neglect to do so, our spiritual fruit will fail to mature and instead will wilt.
What is in your spiritual fruit bowl? Are you displaying fresh fruit for God, or has the fruit in your life become dusty? Let us commit to abide in the Vine of Christ, so we can abundantly bear fresh spiritual fruit for God’s glory!
– Pastor Eric