Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Orchards are lovely places to walk. A healthy orchard is colorful, vibrant, and, if you listen closely with your imagination rather than with your ears—you will hear the sound of quiet, flourishing life. As one of my mentors used to say, “You don’t hear grunting in an orchard!” In other words, the trees aren’t forcing their fruit to emerge; fruit grows naturally on a healthy fruit tree.
And for that tree to flourish, it needs a particular type of soil, a particular kind of weather, and a particular kind of care. If you are a tree planted deeply in the soil of God’s love (Eph. 3:17), then the “fruit of the Spirit” noted above will naturally burst from your branches. It’s the way it works.
Love? Yes, we want to selflessly care for others. Joy? Yes, we want to rejoice in the Lord always. Peace? Yes, we want God’s deep shalom settling our spirits, bringing peace to those around us. Forbearance? Yes, we want the ability to be patient, to persevere through long and hard times. Kindness? Yes, we want to handle others with a gracious spirit. Goodness? Yes, we want to treat others with dignity as sacred reflections of the image of God.
Faithfulness? Yes, we want to be full of faith, resisting fear, pride, and sin, trusting in God’s emerging future more than the circumstances in front of us. Gentleness? Yes, we want to learn the art of being careful in our demeanor, aware of the best ways to approach and serve others. Self-control? Yes. More of that, please; mastery of our own souls by the power of the Spirit is a daily need.
To gain the fruit we want hanging heavy from our branches, how do we yield the tree of our lives to the Spirit’s work, remaining planted in the soil of the Father’s love and bearing expressions of character that look, sound, and impact lives—like Jesus?
First, we can tend to our soil. The Father will take care of us, but we have things we can do to make sure we remain “rooted and established in love.” Worship, filling my life (my home, my car, my walks), draws me back to my belovedness again and again. Worship enriches our soil.
Second, we can watch the weather. If the climate we’re in is dragging us down and affecting our fruit, we have choices we can make. We can stay in the game and be a weather-changer for everyone’s sake. Or there may also be times we need to move to a different climate, in whole (a complete transplant) or in part (taking seasons to hang out in a greenhouse every now and again). We have some level of control over the weather in which we are growing.
Third, we can yield to the steady care that comes from the Father, pruning us, cutting off growth that is natural but drawing strength away from the fruit. The Lord of the Orchard is about the work of drawing fruit from us; we can trust the processes that lead to that sweet, flourishing, Jesus’ fragrant fruit appearing in our life.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. Let me be present to the soil, the weather, and the processes that bring the best fruit from my life. Come, Holy Spirit, make my character like the character of Jesus. Let me become a sweet and sustaining gift to those around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Which fruit of the Spirit above is the Lord of the Orchard tending to in your life right now? What goal do you imagine he has for that aspect of your character coming to maturity?
For the awakening,