Christians know we are supposed to have “fruit.” Jesus even said people would know His disciples by their fruit. Fruit talk makes us feel guilty.
Misconceptions about fruit cause much of this guilt. There are two areas of confusion regarding spiritual fruit that lead the way in our confusion.
1) Spiritual fruit is not necessarily evidenced physically. We like to keep track, list and number stuff. We assume spiritual fruit is tangible like this. Therefore, fruit is evidenced by converts, followers, books sold, people in attendance, or baptisms, etc. None of these things are inherently evil, but they are not spiritual fruit.
2) Spiritual fruit is singular. The nine things listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are one fruit. Paul does not say “The fruits of the Spirit are,” he says, “The fruit of the Spirit is. . .” The fruit of the Spirit is a love-joy-peace-long-suffering-gentleness-goodness-faith-meekness-temperance kind of thing.
Consider: can a guy be able to love without joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, etc.? Can a guy be patient who can’t love, or have joy or peace? None of these things can exist without the other things.
Several times I have been warned by well-meaning Christians, “Never pray for patience–God will nail you with problems.” This is misguided. You are going to have problems regardless of whether you pray for patience!
Furthermore, your true need is not patience, your true need is more of the Spirit. You need His fruit in you, part of which is patience. Perhaps the reason you aren’t patient is because you don’t love people, or have joy, or have true peace, etc.
When we view the fruit of the Spirit as nine separate things we undermine what is going on. We exacerbate the problem when we look to physical things to prove our fruit.
If we think spiritual fruit means converts, we will not be loving people, we will be trying to convert them to feel good about our fruit production, often moving on to new converts without helping the former ones grow. If you think spiritual fruit is followers, you will be frustrated with people who are too dumb to follow you.
When we look to physical things we will get frustrated and undermine the fruit of the Spirit. The answer to bringing forth fruit is to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in us.
What we need is to be filled with the Spirit, to be under His influence. What we don’t need is more self-centered navel gazing, nor longing for more followers to make us feel “more used by God.”
Want more love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance kind of thing going on in you? Then look to Christ, His Word and pray for more of His Spirit at work in you.
(Yes, the Holy Spirit and fruit are a huge issue. I know I did not cover that one point you wanted me to cover. Yes, I know I did not phrase everything the way you would have, nor did I emphasize the one thing the way you would have. This is not a personal affront to you. I am addressing a particular point in the subject, not the whole subject. If this blog irritates you then quit reading it. If you can say it better, wordpress.com offers free blog platforms for you to start your own blog and say what you want.)