Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the list: “The fruit of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Against which that is no law.”
We’ve all learned them at some point, either through rote memorization in Sunday School or Children’s Church or in a song. I’ve learned both. The song is running through my mind right now. I’m sorry if you can hear it. I don’t sing really well.
I was pondering a couple of these fruit over the last few days and I came to realize that every single one of them has to grow and show itself over time. And not necessarily over good times. How do you see the fruit of patience if you receive everything you wish for instantaneously? I ask you? True, right? And what about faithfulness. You don’t know if someone is faithful unless you have been with them over TIME! Actually it would require lots of time. It’s easy to be a faithful friend to someone you’ve just met. But give it 20 or 30 years and a whole lots of mood swings and hard times and strange choices and what does that fruit look like?
Even joy or peace. You can’t judge those fruit during an initial introduction at a gathering. Joy comes easy then. What about joy on a day-in-day-out basis? Or peace during the ups and downs of daily life — through the storms — through the waiting periods — through the times between the prayer and the answer.
Nope, the Fruit of the Spirit is called fruit because it’s like fruit. It has to grow and develop and mature and ripen. It has to have time to become what it will be. The Fruit of the Spirit is like that. It has to have time. We cannot toss out patience or self-control because we ‘apparently’ failed at it once or a hundred times and just say we don’t have it. Instead, we should say it is growing and developing in us. Time makes it grow, struggles help it grow, difficulties nourish it as it grows.
Perhaps not exciting news, but true nonetheless. Do you have a grandma or great-grandma or elderly friend for whom it seems patience and goodness come easily? They’ve just let time do its work. They didn’t pick the fruit in its budding stage and toss it in the compost pile. They let it grow. And now you enjoy the sweetness of the fruit. It will happen in you, too.
Let it grow. Let it develop. Keep nurturing the fruit. One day you’ll get to enjoy the delicious mature juicy fruit. You will. I am certain of it.