“But the fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such thing there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
The definition of The Fruit is a relatively simple concept to grasp. It is not the definition, but the expression of The Fruit that is elusive. Defining The Fruit is improved by education. Bearing The Fruit is produced by crucifixion. Education requires an investment of time. Crucifixion requires death. To bear The Fruit believers must die to The Flesh. Big difference.
There is danger in imitation or poison fruit posing as authentic Christianity. The church is under an ever-present pressure, from the posers within its membership and the culture outside its walls. Those who don’t produce fruit must never be allowed to redefine it. Watering down the truth only stretches it. It never purifies it.
Imitation fruit may appear to be genuine to those who have never tasted the real thing. Believers should only be concerned about one Fruit Inspector. Only real fruit passes God’s tests. Anything else is man-made, and does not bear the mark of His Spirit.
The Father is determined to test The Fruit of His children. Sometimes He brings pressure. A small child soon learns that if they want orange juice, they squeeze an orange. The same is true for all kinds of fruit. Peel, break, or squeeze the skin and you get what is inside. The same is true of believers.
The most embarrassing and awkward scenes under the sun probably take place when posers wearing the latest Christian logo-wear are put under pressure. Pressurized posers don’t always express what is on the label. What erupts out of their mouths and manners of people wearing T-shirts that promise more than they deliver may be the worst form of false advertising. People who are hungering and thirsting for the real deal won’t buy the lies. Neither will God.
Exhaustive exegesis produces excellent Bible dictionaries filled with fine definitions describing The Fruit. Education has the capacity to define The Fruit, but it is powerless to produce it.
Note to self: The Ancient Greeks had a word picture for each one of these expressions of The Fruit of The Spirit. They could define it. They just couldn’t produce it. Neither can you. Refining your definition of The Fruit won’t lead to bearing it. Redefining the definitions of genuine fruit to fit what you can produce only leads to imitation fruit. Stop it. Die already.
“The fruit of The Spirit is love.” Love is where it all begins. God is love. The Spirit is The Promise of The Father. The Spirit glorifies The Son. The Son glorifies The Father. The Father expects His children to express His love, not some corrupt, man-made, watered down version of it.
The Greeks had more than one word for love. Paul did not invent this particular word. He was inspired by The Spirit to draw it from a rich and ancient heritage. The Greeks beautifully defined love, but were totally unable to produce a single example of it. Nothing has changed in the last 2,000 years. Love is not man-made. It reveals the character of God.
Love points to undefeatable good will, and unconquerable benevolence actively expressed to others. Love continues in spite of the treatment it receives in return. To the Greeks, it was a concept. Through The Spirit love becomes a concrete reality. Without God’s kind of love flowing in and out of a believer, there is no evidence of the life-giving, life-changing Presence of His Spirit.
On a personal note: For 40 years, I have aggressively sought to define and comprehend the meaning of each of these nine traits of The Fruit of The Spirit. I invite you to do the same. WARNING: Defining them more precisely, and understanding them more thoroughly, did not lead to my capacity to express them more effectively. Education isn’t crucifixion. Die daily.
Prayer has softened the soil of my heart, and The Spirit has found His way of sinking His roots deeper into my heart and soul. The less I pray, the harder my heart becomes, and the less of The Fruit of The Spirit I bear. Without praying there is no bearing. Prayer produces a change of my will to remain nailed to The Cross, until I die to The Flesh. Me, my and mine are not expressions of The Fruit of The Spirit. Praying for a tender heart is no quick fix. Fruit bearing takes a life-time of it.
Anything that grows over night in my yard is usually a weed. Contemporary church culture embraces the newest, the latest the greatest and expects immediate results. The current trend of starting new churches is commendable, BUT if prayerless preachers are starting prayerless churches, they are hardly planting healthy churches able to produce The Fruit of The Spirit. Pray for a blast from the past to take the church back 2,000 years to The Fruit of The Spirit. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!