During the spring and summer, I admire the fruit growing in our neighbor’s yard. Their cultivated vines climb a shared fence to produce large bunches of grapes. Branches dotted with purple plums and plump oranges dangle just within our reach.
Although we don’t till the soil, plant the seeds, or water and weed the garden, the couple next door shares their bounty with us. They take responsibility for nurturing their crops and allow us to delight in a portion of their harvest.
The produce from the trees and vines on the other side of our fence reminds me of another harvest that benefits me and the people God places in my life. That harvest is the fruit of the Spirit.
Christ-followers are commissioned to claim the benefits of living by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16–21). As God’s seeds of truth flourish in our hearts, the Spirit produces an increase in our ability to express “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (vv. 22–23).
Once we surrender our lives to Jesus, we no longer have to be controlled by our self-centered inclinations (v. 24). Over time, the Holy Spirit can change our thinking, our attitudes, and our actions. As we grow and mature in Christ, we can have the added joy of loving our neighbors by sharing the benefits of His generous harvest.
Lord, please cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts and minds so our neighbors can enjoy Your sweet fragrance in and through our lives.
The fruit of the Spirit changes us so we can impact the lives of those around us.
As followers of Christ it’s easy to project an image to those around us that we don’t struggle with sin. But God knows better. The war between good and evil that began eons ago continues today within the believer’s heart. Even though we are redeemed and will one day reign with Christ, we experience the daily struggle between obedience and disobedience. In today’s reading, Paul lists the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that characterize our fallen nature. But he also lists those godly qualities that reflect Christ’s own character and are pleasing to God. The challenge of the Christian life is to yield our hearts to the control and direction of the Holy Spirit so we will bear fruit that is honoring to God and benefits those around us.
Can you think of a time when your choice to yield to the Spirit ministered to others? Dennis Fisher