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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. Galatians 5:22-23

Allow me to vent a little bit! If you have followed Christ or been involved in church and Bible Study for any length of time you have no doubt heard the verses quoted above. We’ve been ‘reminded’ through books, sermons and Sunday School lessons to ‘be filled with the Spirit’ and that if we are our lives will be marked by all the good things in life. Things that there is no law against.

After all, who is going to go to jail for being guilty of ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?’ No one of course. In fact, just the opposite will happen. We’ll be respected (although some may call us weird), loving people.

So, here is my vent. I agree that we should all strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. If we have asked Christ to forgive us and desire a close relationship with Him, reliance on the Holy Spirit isn’t optional, it’s imperative.

However, as someone who, admittedly, isn’t always very loving,, joyful, peaceful, forbearing, kind, good, faithful, gentle or self-controlled I struggle. Sometimes it seems like no matter how hard I try there just isn’t always a healthy crop of ‘spiritual fruit’ hanging from the branches of my life.

If you have ever felt like an apple tree with more branches and leaves than crisp red fruit then you know how I feel. Then, again, as I thought about that I got thinking more about what goes into a healthy crop of fruit and was encouraged by what I learned. Hopefully, my ‘vents’ will help you in your walk as well.

The most important aspect of growing healthy fruit is time. I think many of us expect that once we decide to follow Christ, or renew a relationship with him, that we will instantly become healthy fruit-bearing Christ-followers. While there may be some miraculous exceptions to the rule, most fruit takes time to mature.

Don’t give up on yourself when you don’t see instant success in bearing fruit. Fruit trees have to weather many storms and harsh winters before they see an abundance of fruit hanging from their branches.

Secondly, healthy fruit trees are a result of intensive, consistent care and nurturing. That’s a two-fold challenge for us. First of all, take care of your ‘tree’ by spending time learning from God’s word, developing a consistent prayer life and instilling accountability with other ‘trees’ who have weathered the storms. You have to be healthy to have healthy fruit.

The second challenge in healthy fruit is that you can’t expect results in others overnight any more than your changes happen over night. To bring others into relationship with Christ can take a long time because there are hurdles of the past, current situations and self-esteem issues to overcome. Be patient with the blossoms and young fruit in your care. Slow growth and time are crucial in healthy fruit.

Lastly, remember that ultimately, the healthy growth of fruit is out of your hands. The orchard grower knows that he can only do so much to bring a healthy crop. Some things (like nature) are out of his control. Do what you can in your own life, and in the lives of others to make growing conditions the best they can be. But remember that only God can really change you or others. Healthy, mature fruit is ultimately in His hands alone.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, much as I want to be a healthy producer of fruit in my life and the lives of others, I confess that I fall short on a daily basis. There are times when I have just given up on trying to live a life that shows the power of Your Holy Spirit because I’ve failed so many times. Forgive me for the failures, empower me to keep trying, give me patience as I let time and reliance on you work in my life and the lives of others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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