GALATIANS 5:22–23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
It is tempting to launch immediately into a full exploration of each of the distinctive nine dimensions of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. From there I so easily drift into thoughts of how I need to grow these various qualities in my own life. I need to be more loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. This leads to becoming self-critical and slowly shifts my attention to what I am not or where I am lacking or what I need to do to become better, stronger, more devoted. The outcome of this whole line of thinking can be brought down to a single word: The subtle seduction of striving. I know. That’s five words. The one word? Striving.
Notice the text does not say, “But the fruit of my striving is . . .” Rather, it says . . .
“But the fruit of the Spirit is . . .”
We must reorient our focus from the fruits to the roots. It is interesting how we call the fruits and vegetables section of the grocery store the “produce” section. Why? Because fruit is not produced. Fruit is borne. We have almost nothing to do with it. With all our advanced scientific discoveries and technological advances and genetic modification capabilities, we still couldn’t make a fruit or a vegetable in a million years. Far from our striving, the secret is in the source—who is the Holy Spirit. The beautiful borne outcome issues not from all our efforts at behavior management but from beholding the One in whom the Spirit dwells without measure: Jesus Christ. He reveals to us the fruit of the Spirit in his very personhood and relationships and he lives to do the same in and through our very personhood and relationships.
As I am beginning this series, my impulse is to stretch the nine dimensions of the fruit of the Spirit over the nine weeks and systematically deal with them. I feel this agenda is already being pruned. Here’s what I hear the Father saying over us: “Just speak Jesus. Impart the Holy Spirit. Return to source and substance. Call forth longing. Receive fullness.” The fruit of the Spirit is the Spirit’s work, not ours. This is our Father’s garden, not ours. Hear James from Peterson’s Message translation of the Bible on this point:
In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21)
Wow! Spend a few minutes savoring this word picture—your life and mine as a salvation-garden. What if this word could become our world? It actually can. Let’s meet in the “produce section” tomorrow.
Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, our Father, thank you for being our gardener. You are the gardener of my heart and not just my heart but my mind, soul, strength, yes my whole body. You are the gardener of my home and family, of my friends and colleagues, my church and community. You are the gardener of my city and the country surrounding it. It is all yours—every square inch. Would you landscape it all with the Word? Would you make a salvation garden of it all. Start with me. Make a salvation-garden of my life. Holy Spirit, would you start by sowing this simple humility in me now. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
How do you relate to this notion of your life as a “salvation-garden”? What does “simple humility” mean to you in this context?
For the Awakening,