Fruit. If God is in us, there will be good fruit. More specifically, we will embody Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.
At this point, my shoulders sag dramatically and an enormous sigh escapes pouty lips. To look at that list, I can assume that the Holy Spirit has pitched His tent far, far away. The very first fruit—love—has me undone. Have you read the Love Chapter in the Bible recently? The list of things that ‘Love is…’ is very long and wholly unatainable to yours truly.
This all sounds hum drum and hopeless, but if God says it in His Word, then the challenge of treasure hunting can begin; He’s made a way to live these things out in our everyday, we simply need to unearth that Way.
I wonder if, for example, when He says, "The fruit of the Spirit is…" He knows that the likelihood of us trucking all of those basketfulls of excellence around with us is pretty unlikely. Maybe He’s saying that if peace shows up, or patience or goodness, that’s evidence of God in us. Perhaps every time we exhibit behaviors contrary to our own judgemental, self-seeking, greedy natures we are expressing the fruit of His Spirit.
A friend and I were recently questioning the nature of change in people. I, the pessimist, hold that people never really change—at the heart of us we struggle with the same issues all of our lives, and we walk valiantly in the same areas all of our lives. But she made a casual comment about how the changes she’s seen in her own character and thinking over the years feel like she’s simply becoming more of who she was always meant to be.
A spark lit in each of us in the next moments of conversation. What if God, in making us in His image, has built sweetness and strength and excellent character into us already? Deep, deep into us.
In our heavily psychologized era, we’re continually grasping outside of ourselves for the finer qualities of God (feeling like He is distant and His traits out of reach). What if, instead, we believed Him when He says that He’s living in us? What if we believed that because love and joy and goodness and self-control are His nature, that they are our nature as well?
It shifts the focus away from us, again, and on to Him. It takes the pressure off of us to become something other than what we are (striving and disciplining and failing) and invites us to simply let Him show up. He’s already in there! We can just let Him…well…out.
Instead of caging Him behind bars of doubt and shame, good deeds and endless ministry, we might just learn to set aside the agendas of our own making and permit Him to be wildly God. And we might acknowledge that if He’s made our hearts His home, then all the richness of His character dwells there, too.
So, while the lists of "Love is…" and "The fruits of the Spirit are…" look long, let’s be encouraged that if God says it, He makes a way for it. He has not left us. He’s in us and He’s alive and He loves.