Galatians 5:22-23–Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a, NIV)

Before I can even begin to examine the fruit of the Spirit . . . I have to ask myself something.  What is the fruit of the Spirit?

On the level of my mind, I could probably tell you an answer that would sound like I knew what I was talking about.  But the truth is, until God just brought this question to my heart as I was reading this verse a few minutes ago . . . I’d never really thought about what the fruit of the Spirit is.

Surely, in all the times I have (speed) read this verse, in all the times I have sang a song about it, I have never really thought about what the fruit of the Spirit means.

“Fruit” is a concept I understood when I was five.  I’ve never really thought about it before, but kids seem to naturally know the difference between fruits and vegetables.  I’m not talking about the technical categories, like where a cucumber or a tomato fits in, but I mean a kid’s idea of fruit: something that tastes sweet.

I immediately knew what was fruit as a kid.  Fruit is easy to tell apart from vegetables, because vegetables don’t taste sweet (in my kid, nonscientific categories).  And there is something beautiful about fruit that vegetables just don’t have.  I have had some aversion to eating vegetables in my life, but I never have a reluctance towards fruit.  Fruit is the all-natural dessert of God’s earth.

A few years ago, when I was trying to figure out what food allergies I had, a naturopath suggested I go on a toxicity diet.  The diet was almost a total fast from everything but a protein shake for a week.  And for about a month, my diet was highly restricted.  At the time, I was having so much problems with food allergies that I didn’t really care.

But I did have a big problem.  The protein shake was almost intolerable to me.  I absolutely hate things with bad taste (I think I’m pretty normal there).  I also have a big problem drinking things that have chalky texture (again, I think I’m in the consensus of the population).  I didn’t know how I was going to get those drinks down.

But there was one thing that made it tolerable.  One thing.

Fruit juice.

Cranberries are one of the strongest fruits I know, and I would mix the shake with cranberry juice.  Holding my nose, I could get the shake down, because the gross glop of the shake would be permeated by the tartness and Cardinal-red flavor of the juice.

Now that I’m thinking about it, when I had to fast from different kinds of foods for allergy testing, the most difficult food was hands-down fruit.  I craved fruit juice when I didn’t have it.  My blood sugar never seemed content with just protein.  I longed for the sweetness and instant energy given from fruit.

I never thought about the fruit of the Spirit as a fulfillment of the essential craving we have in our lives for holiness.  And I never thought of the fruit of the Spirit as a testimony to the unsaved of the sweetness only Christ brings.

Another memory comes to mind . . . a more important one.

My first barium test and my second barium test.  Before I figured out my food allergies, I had to take barium tests as doctors tried to figure out what was going on inside me.

The first barium test I took, I absolutely thought I could not get the barium down.  I remember tears streaming down my face because I was trying so hard to get the shake down without throwing it up. I could only get a little bit down.  The doctor ordered a less-concentrated barium for me, and I still could hardly swallow it.  I remember feeling like I had been asked to swallow liquid rocks.  I didn’t think the test would ever be over, and, to make matters worse, the doctor demonstrated no compassion.

The second time I had to go in for a barium test, I was in dread.  Dread!  I walked up to the counter and, as though the nurses could somehow help, I poured my heart about about the dreadfulness of barium, and my near inability to drink it down.

One of the nurses said, “. . . Have you tried cranberry juice?”

What?  This was a choice?

The nurse poured cranberry juice into the barium, and my experience was transformed from one of gagging, crying, and ghastly fear into one of grace, happiness, and thankfulness!  That nurse probably had no idea the gift she had given me, but that barium was changed from something I could never have gotten down to a drink of the overpowering aroma and promise of cranberries.

This is exactly what Christ offers us on the cross.  Christ drank the cup of suffering (for example, see Mark 14:36) so that we wouldn’t have to.  No matter what bad times we go through, we never have to contemplate suicide because all our agony can be overpowered by the sweetness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Christ promises an eternity of hope to everyone who receives His blood covering over our sins.  And that promise for an eternity of hope starts the moment we open our lives to Him.  He is a sweetness in our lives that nothing–no death, no grief, no suffering–can overpower.

The Lord’s supper.  A drink of grapes that stands for the sweetness of the blood and the bitterness of the spilling of it.  The blood of Christ Jesus.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

The fruit of the Spirit is what we grow in our hearts after He grafts us into the tree of Life, the tree of Christ Jesus.

Only when we live beneath the shadow of cross can we offer others the true sweetness of this life . . . Christ Jesus.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a, NIV)

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Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 6:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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