Galatians 5:22-23. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
To be in Christ is to be growing, changing, transforming. This is the ongoing daily work of the Spirit in our lives. Christ’s life in us is a planted seed that is being formed in us (day 184). His love in us is becoming our own love for God and others. No doubt this is not an easy process. Our flesh (think remaining indwelling selfishness) is constantly battling against the work of the Spirit (day 187). But have you ever seen a tree growing up through a broken sidewalk? The dead concrete of the flesh could never stop the living seed of the Spirit. Christ in you is an unstoppable force. Remember not even death could stop his life.
And so in Galatians 5:22-23 we are given a glorious metaphor for the life of Christ in us – fruit. The fruit of the Spirit.
Why fruit? Because fruit grows naturally, not mechanically. You simply cannot try harder to produce more fruit of the Spirit. No amount of resolution and no doubling down on your efforts can make it grow. The fruit of the Spirit is the natural result of trusting in the life of Christ, his finished work, his unconditional love. The Spirit’s fruit comes only by trusting Christ’s work for you more and more, not by doing more and more for Christ.
But it is important for us to understand that although we cannot make the fruit of the Spirit grow, we can prevent its growth. How? By resisting grace and grieving the Spirit. We can choose to live by the flesh rather than by faith. Even though we are free in Christ, it is possible for us to run back to the slavery of law keeping (5:1). And who among us hasn’t done this? Don’t we all daily fight this battle, pouring more concrete over the seed?
But Christ’s love in us always wins. His life always breaks through. Why? Because that is what all seeds do. They grow. Slowly. Gradually. Even painfully. And like a plant in your garden, you can’t see the growth by staring at it. In the same way, we will never see our own spiritual growth by focusing on our own spiritual growth. In fact, focusing on your own spiritual growth easily turns into more “works of the flesh.” Instead, we must be focused on Christ alone. His cross. His sacrifice. His love. His life.
That’s what the fruit of the Spirit is – Christ’s life lived out. His character. What many fail to see is how Paul calls it the fruit, singular, of the Spirit. One fruit. Why? Because when we have the Spirit of Christ in us we have all of his character at once. We don’t have Christ in pieces. We don’t get his love without his gentleness. Or his peace without his self-control. Jesus in you is one piece of fruit. His whole life. His love.
Yes, there are nine character traits listed here, but Christ’s love is the controlling quality that produces the other eight. When you have Christ’s love, you can love like Christ. Why does Paul say against such things there is no law? Because if we have to work for God’s love, then we will never have love as a fruit. If we have never been loved unconditionally, we will never be free to love the same way. But if we stop resisting God’s love for us in Christ, and wholeheartedly receive it, then we will see the true fruit of his love in our lives.
Christ’s love will produce a joy that replaces hopelessness. A peace that replaces worry. A patience that replaces resentment. A kindness that replaces envy. A goodness that replaces indifference. A faithfulness that replaces passivity. A gentleness that replaces both inferiority and superiority. And a self-control that replaces impulsivity.
“To live is Christ” is to grow from a seed into fruit. It’s gradual and unstoppable. Difficult and delightful. And it is a growth that comes by faith alone. Faith in Christ’s love as the seed placed into the soil of our hearts, and faith in Christ love as the fruit of our lives. Lives that are learning to depend more and more on his grace.
How might you be pouring concrete over the seed of Christ’s life in you? Or, in what ways are you rejecting Christ’s love for you?
You in Christ?
How does knowing that the seed of Christ in you will never stop growing
Christ in you
Have you had anyone tell you lately that they can see you growing in Christ?
Playlist: the fruit of the Spirit.