Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Imagine an orange. There is a white center which is connected through the peel to a stem and from which seeds sprout and are distributed among the wedges. There are the sweet wedges. And there is the outer peel.
Now, imagine there is an orange growing out of your arm, attached by a stem. Imagine a couple of leaves too, if you want it to seem more realistic.
Wherever you go, people notice the fruit. It’s right there, bright and orange and appealing, right in front of their eyes.
If I picked the fruit from my arm to eat it, I would first peel it. The peel is “self control.” It holds everything together. I notice that my peel is kind of flimsy and not very thick.
Next I would pull off seven wedges. Those wedges are joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness.
Most of the wedges are thick and juicy. The wedge of patience, however, is small and a bit shriveled up. It’s there, just not very appealing.
The center of the orange is love. From love emanates the wedges and the peel of the fruit of the Spirit. Without love, we could not have joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
As I examine the pieces of orange, I realize there are areas in which the Holy Spirit needs to work so that I can grow. The two areas in which I need the most work are self control and patience. Not only do I realize that I need more growth in these areas, I also know that based on my “fruit observation,” God is already working on me in those areas every day.
In order to grow my “patience wedge,” God surrounds me with opportunities.
- Traffic jams.
- Long waits in lines at the grocer.
- Expecting a check in the mail.
As I grow in patience, the skinny and dry wedge of patience in the fruit of the Spirit grows plump.
God also gives me plenty of opportunities to grow in self control. Unfortunately, during Thanksgiving, I failed miserably at demonstrating self control. I’m certain most people would have caved under the “five-desserts” option. They all looked so good. I sampled four and left no evidence on my plate. Maybe I did exercise some self control when I didn’t get up for a second sliver of apple cheesecake, although I really wanted one.
That’s why I have the skinny peel of “self-control” in the fruit of the Spirit dangling from my arm.
Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is not “the fruit of ________ (your name here).” Instead, it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit who indwells within the believer. Although you have a role through cooperation in the development of the fruit of the Spirit, it is work of the Spirit in you which causes the fruit to grow full and rich.
What would the fruit of the Spirit look like if you were to pluck it from your own arm? I suspect that some of us have fully developed fruit of the Spirit with plump wedges and a thick peel emanating from a center of great love. Some of us might have great love, but need to work on a few wedges, or a flimsy peel.
Examining the fruit of the Spirit in your life might answer some questions.
For example, if you are wondering why you are going through some times which force you to show kindness despite how you really feel, perhaps God is working on growing your “kindness” wedge.
Maybe you are wondering why God has put such confrontational people in your life recently. Maybe He is working on your “peace” wedge.
Or like me, maybe you also sampled nearly all of the Thanksgiving dessert offerings and you know you need the Holy Spirit to work on your “self control” peel.
I encourage you to examine the fruit of the Spirit in your own life, and to accept the challenges that come before you as opportunities to grow.