How is the garden of your soul this morning? Are you bearing good fruit?
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23 – NIV
At the back of our property stands a small pear tree. For years after we moved in, the spindly tree brought forth a rich harvest of pears in mid-summer. The pears were always a bit hard for my taste, but my good friend Danny loved to transform our ample fruit into delicious pear preserves.
I’m not quite sure what happened, but several years ago, the pear tree stopped producing. It sprouted its normal leaves, but bore no fruit. Given its age, we figured that perhaps its season of fruitfulness had passed.
Like so many other things in the yard this year, the old pear tree had a surprise in store for me. The bare branches of early spring were dotted with white blossoms, and as summer approached, clumps of the long absent fruit dangled from the once barren branches. It wasn’t just a few pears either. No, it was a bumper crop!
Why did that tree decide to bloom after so many barren seasons? Perhaps it was the right mix of rain and sun or the absence of a late spring frost. Whatever the reason, the old tree found new life once again.
That old pear tree makes me ponder a different kind of fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 describes a long list of admirable character traits as the Fruit of the Spirit. This special fruit is the gift of salvation, available to us when we accept Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When we come to know Jesus, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, changing our hearts and altering our attitudes.
We have read about the Spirit, but more than that, we have seen the Spirit in action. When someone finds Jesus, they are changed. They react differently to adversity. They respond differently to harsh words. We see more love and kindness, instead of quick tempers and snappy replies. We even recognize the change in ourselves. As we let the Spirit dwell in our hearts, as we let Him occupy more of our souls, we find that we too are different.
But there is something about this whole process of bearing fruit that I have never quite thought about before. Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit is a choice. Yes, a choice. I always saw it as a gift from God that comes with salvation. What I never contemplated before is that we must choose to receive these lovely fruits. The Spirit can lead us to them, even entice us with them, but we must choose to display these delights.
We can choose to live like the rest of the world, bellowing insults, feeling entitled, or blaming and shaming others. We can choose to follow the crowd, and conform to the chaotic voices we find all around us or we can choose a different path.
What good fruit can we choose to bear? How about love instead of hate? We can find joy regardless of our circumstances and peace as we rest in God’s sovereignty. We can be patient when waiting in a long line or offer a smile and a kind word to a stranger. We can choose goodness by doing the right thing even when no one is watching, and be faithful by keeping our commitments even when it would be easier to walk away. We can choose to react in a calm, gentle manner even when those around us are frantically rushing past, too busy and preoccupied to notice someone in need. Ultimately, we can choose self control. We can choose to rein in our selfish tendencies and focus on what is good and right and true.
We plant those positive changes in our hearts when we allow the Holy Spirit to take root. With the proper nourishment of worship, prayer, Bible study and Christian fellowship, the seeds grow and mature. Blossoms appear, followed in time, by beautiful, delicious fruit.
I am glad that the old pear tree has finally decided to blossom again, but its long hiatus comes at a price. My dear friend Danny passed on to glory in March. He missed the rebirth of the old pear tree. He would have enjoyed turning that crop of pears into some tasty jelly. The whimsical side of me enjoys thinking that perhaps the old tree was paying tribute to my kind and generous friend, honoring his memory with a bounty of good fruit.
Perhaps there is a lesson hidden amongst the leaves of this aging tree. Don’t miss the moment. Don’t waste the fruit. Bloom where you are planted. Then our choices will honor God with a bountiful harvest of good fruit.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Come, plant your good seeds in our hearts that we might grow and bear good fruit. Help us to turn away from the chaos of the culture around us. Let us rise above the fray, making good choices that affirm your presence in our lives. We thank you for your goodness and give you all the glory.