But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
I’ve loved this verse for years and read it hundreds of times. But as scripture often does, this week it came to life in a whole new way in my spiritual heart. And I wonder, “How did I miss this truth for so long?” Have you ever done that? It’s one of those “I should have had a V-8” kind of moments! Okay, only those of you that have been around awhile probably remember that reference, but I digress! Here’s the thing: I want that fruit in my life, as I’m sure you do. Who doesn’t want love, joy, peace, patience (extra dose for me, please!), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. They’re all things found in the very nature of Christ, and they’re beautiful. But we can’t get these sweet fruits of the Spirit by simply trying harder or willing ourselves to be better. What I haven’t fully understood through the years are the powerful words that start this verse, “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives.” I’ve read that and taken it in on a surface level, but somehow this truth has not completely settled into my soul. I’ve felt it was up to me and my unstable will power to enact the changes within me I know God desires and I desire as well. That mentality leads to feelings of failure when I don’t see progress in these various areas. This week it hit me hard that my part in this transformational process is to choose to join my life to the heart of Jesus, to be all in, seeking His heart and His counsel in every aspect of my life. It’s then that the Holy Spirit can make the changes to my character that I can’t do on my own. Fruit spontaneously appears when I’m firmly and completely connected to the source of life, Jesus. Wow, what Good News for all of us! And as I look back, things have been changing in my life. Fruit has been appearing. I still have a long, long way to go with patience, but I have tons more than I did a few years ago. And when that judgmental attitude starts to rear its ugly head in my mind, I am better at hearing the Spirit’s gentle nudge, reminding me that God loves the person who is annoying me just as much as He loves me, which enables me to exercise grace. And here’s the thing, I’m learning to be okay with progress, not perfection. I am more and more comfortable knowing that I will be in process until the day I go home to be with Jesus. We are all a work in progress until we get to heaven, and that’s a beautiful image to hold onto for a perfectionist like me.
So instead of “trying harder” and just “getting over it,” let’s choose to simply stay connected to the Vine, the source of our life, Jesus, and let the Spirit do what we can’t do on our own.
And when the fruit spontaneously appears, let’s remember to enjoy the sweetness!
Hugs and love, Jill