8.19.20 Fruit of the Spirit
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years thinking about the fruit of the Spirit, the qualities that are ours to express in this world when we truly follow Jesus. The first three: peace, joy and love are the essentials in the life of the Spirit. Peace takes us out of the cares of this world and transports us to the kingdom of God. So that, no matter what is happening in our lives, we are able to surrender to it and to maintain a certain calm in the face of, for example, the coronavirus, while the world seems to be falling apart in fear and anxiety. The peace of Christ is such a gift to us who still live in this world.
Joy is the second gift of the Spirit. There is joy in being connected to God/Christ/Spirit. Whatever the Trinity sends us that awakens us to their presence—that is a joy. There is joy in loving and accepting who we are, in forgiving our sins, just as God has loved and forgiven us. We will find joy in anything that happens to us. For example, one of my inspirations during this time of isolation has been to learn the names of the tress here in the Charlotte area where I now live after years of living on the West Coast. I have an app that photographs and then names each species, so I have been learning the names/leaves/bark of many species. And there is joy in learning their names and in recognizing them again and again. Joy is a huge companion on our journey.
And love…love is the root of everything in the universe, it is God’s most telling attribute. Along with love go forgiveness, mercy, justice, anything that would straighten out our lives. Love is what drives the rain to fall and the sun to shine on everyone, [Matt 5:45] both good and evil. Love is the embracing of all creation and God’s desire to have a personal relationship with each one of His people. To me, the last six fruit of the Spirit are all expressions of love.
Patience without love is impossible. Goodness, kindness and gentleness are the true expressions of love. There is no judgment, no putting ourselves above anyone else with love. We are all truly heirs of God when we turn back to Him—again as a result of love. Faithfulness is impossible without love. Why would we even want to be faithful to God without our love for Him? And humility—that’s what I think self-control means—how can we see all other human beings as our peers, if we don’t have love?
Love is Christ’s message to us in everything He taught. And love impels us to treat others as we love ourselves—the Second of Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. We can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves. For how could God’s love, unacknowledged, be expressed in the world if we can’t feel His love for ourselves, His forgiveness of who we are, His desire to be our loving companion? Only when we can apply His love to exactly who we are—all that we have been—can we then pour His love out to others.
The fruit of the Spirit is a gift to us and to all human beings. Love is the message and the vehicle for that love.