Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
It was quarterly review time for Max, a personal banking manager. He sat opposite his area manager, cup of tea in hand, as shoppers pootled along the High Street below.
‘So’, the area manager began, ‘How do you feel things have been going since we last met?’ ‘Pretty good’, answered Max. ‘I’ve definitely been feeling calmer at work; you know, less stressed… I guess more at peace with myself.’
‘I’ve noticed that too’, she responded. ‘You do seem calmer; less irritable. I’ve not really heard you complain about anything. Can I ask why you think this is?’
That conversation happened just a few months ago, and Max was able to share how he’d recently become a Christian, and what a difference God was making in his life. When God’s Holy Spirit makes himself at home within us, our lives change. Paul calls this ‘the fruit of the Spirit’.
Fruit is a great metaphor. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we stick onto the outside of our lives, like baubles on a Christmas tree. Rather, it flows out from us, as we soak up the nutrients of God’s word and his holy presence. We cannot force out this spiritual fruit by tapping into our inner resources or by trying harder. This really is about God changing us, as we ‘keep in step with the Spirit’.
Healthy fruit is a sign of a healthy tree, and it shares its harvest with the surrounding ecosystem: birds, insects, Homo sapiens, and even our mortal enemies, wasps… Paul has already shown us how sin dehumanises and robs us of life, but the Spirit makes us more like Christ, the most fully alive human of all. And when we are like him, it’s good for everyone. Fruit brings blessing. It’s a manifestation of the life of God’s kingdom, bringing the sweetness of his presence to the people and places where it’s tasted. In that way, it furthers God’s mission. The fruit in our lives is a signpost to the life-giving God.
So today, do not hide your fruit under a bowl! Instead, put it out on the table, that people may taste your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.