Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
This Apostolic teaching is directly passed down from Lord Jesus Christ himself, who oftentimes taught the mysteries of God by means of metaphors based on the daily life of his hearers.
The Apostle is teaching us that the Christian community as a whole (and individual devotees) are easily distinguished from those who live enslaved to sense-gratification by how easy it is for them to live in the spirit and manner of Lord Jesus Christ. (cp. Gal. 5:16-21; 2:20; 3:26-27)
The key to understanding his Apostolic teaching is found in the word: FRUIT.
When was the last time you saw an apple tree straining to give apples? Or how about an orange tree? Have you ever heard a vine straining to bear forth grapes? Of course not!
In the same way that fruit trees give forth fruit effortlessly according to their nature, so does the fruit of the Spirit sprout naturally from a Christian community, made up of sincere devotees that live entirely dedicated to seeking and communing with their Master.
Whenever Christians find themselves straining to express these virtues, it is always because they are walking “in the flesh” rather than “in the Spirit.” The remedy to this problem is found by simply observing the elements that are necessary for a tree to bear fruit, according to its nature.
Every fruit tree needs three elements:
- A proper relationship with the Sun.
- A proper relationship with the Soil.
- A proper relationship with Water.
Malachi 4:2- But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
The Bible teaches that for those who believe in the redeeming work of Christ, that their faith is credited to them as righteousness. (Romans 4:5,22-25) This mystical knowledge allows for the devotee to foster a proper relationship with Christ- not as a slave trying to gain His approval (Galatians 3:3), but as one who has already been made righteous and brought into the family of God through Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:15-17; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 2:19-20)
1 Corinthians 12:27- Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
In addition to teaching us that humankind was created from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7; 3:19), the Bible compares the different types of people to the different types of soil. (Matthew 13) In the same way that fruit trees must grow deep roots in the soil, so must Christians foster deep, encouraging relationships with other devotees as part of the body of Christ.
John 15:3- You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
In the same way that fruit trees need a good dose of water every day, so should the Christian either read or listen to the written Word of God. The easiest way to read through the New Testament effortlessly, is by reading just 1 chapter a day, 5 days a week.
When we find ourselves straining to express the virtues of Christ through our lives, it usually is because we are failing to imitate the trees of the field. But when we seek to imitate the trees…the fruit of the Spirit is manifested through us…effortlessly.
Like apples sprouting from an apple tree…