Monday, October 12, 2015

Of the Spirit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22.

Of. The. Spirit.

I feel as if this little prepositional phrase is slightly important. Or, actually, I think it's the key to this whole verse.

Let's consider first what this statement does NOT say. 

It does not say "of myself." It does not say "of my own doing." It does not - in any way - include anything about ME. Or YOU, in fact. It says "of the Spirit." 

This is radical. Let's consider what this does mean.

It means that this fruit - this list of qualities - comes from the Spirit, God Himself. The Lord does not expect me to conjure up these fruits on my own. He doesn't expect kindness, patience, self-control, etc. to pop up in my life like a Jack-in-the-Box. Indeed, it seems to me here that God is setting out a paradigm of partnership: the Spirit's work + the offering of our life (take a look at Galatians 5:24!)  = F R U I T.

As I'm writing this, I'm starting to understand what my issue with the fruits has always been:

They're not about me.


I am selfish.


I like to be the one who gets the glory of success. Case in point: I've never liked group projects because I had to put someone else's name next to mine to receive credit for what I consider to be MY excellent work. 

*insert weeping emojis here*

These are not fun truths to confront in my life. Perhaps, however, these truths shed some light on my problem with the fruits of the Spirit and give me a bit of insight into how to actually go about incorporating them into my life...

Have you ever noticed that when you spend a lot of time with a person, you start to assume some of his or her characteristics? For example, my old roommate, Rachel, used to wear her purse around the house for like 30 minutes after she came home from running errands. She'd put away groceries, do some dishes, put together a snack...all with her purse slung across her body. In August of last year, I was making fun of her for it. By May, I was doing the same thing! She rubbed off on me. I spent enough time with her and watching her and laughing about her wearing her purse for a ridiculously long time that gradually I assumed her habit. I, too, ended up wearing my purse all around the house!

Now, this is a silly example, but I think it applies to the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Just like the purse-wearing is characteristic of Rachel. And Paul lists out these fruits right before stating, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). Living by the Spirit, walking with the Spirit...those statements would assume that we're spending time with the Spirit, right? And what happens when we spend time with someone?

Habits, characteristics, etc. rub off on us.

So maybe instead of trying to force the fruits into my life, I should spend time in the Spirit, with Jesus, getting to know my Lord and Savior. Maybe instead of trying to pop these suckers out of thin air and make them a part of my life, I should embrace "of the Spirit" and believe that when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, He actually really did want to be with us. With you. With me.

This is the method I'm going to try from here on out, folks. Trying to make these fruits show up in my life on my own is hard and it's lonely and it's not working. I would much rather be with Jesus while I'm trying to learn. I hear He's a pretty great teacher. And He's wicked awesome company.

You know what, I still wear my purse around the house after I buy groceries. And I hope that as I spend more time learning about the fruits of the Spirit straight from the source, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will be lasting habits, too.


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