By looking at the sour attitude of some Christians you might think the fruit of the Spirit is lemons. Fortunately, the bible tells us that instead of lemons, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Would you like to see more of that kind of fruit in your life? If so, here’s the key: Quit working on the fruit of the Spirit.
I don’t know about you, but I DON’T want to be a sour Christian. I DO want more fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life. But simply working on being more loving and patient and having more self-control has not worked very well for me and it’s not going to work very well for you, either.
Here’s why working on having more fruit of the Holy Spirit doesn’t work: It’s not us that produces the fruit, it’s the Holy Spirit. That’s why the bible calls it “fruit of the Spirit” instead of “fruit of humans”. I’ve heard many sermons from well-meaning pastors who give helpful advice on how to work on having more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These sermons sound good and practical, except for one problem. It won’t work. And when we take this well-intentioned advice to heart and really try to work at having more of this wonderful fruit in our lives, we end up frustrated and disappointed in ourselves. Ironically, some of the very same things we were trying to establish in our life now seem even further away.
So if you don’t work on having more fruit of the Spirit in your life, how will you get it? The answer is to yield to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. If you set your own thoughts and desires aside and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, love, joy, peace, patience, and yes – even self-control – will begin to show up in your life. If the Holy Spirit is there, his fruit will be there.
If the Holy Spirit is there, his fruit will be there.
The bible says if we walk in the Spirit we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). The problem for most of us is that when we’re not following the Holy Spirit, we get some sort of dysfunctional gratification from eating “human fruit”. Galatians 5:20-21 lists some of our human fruit as quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, and envy. I think the reason that some of these human fruits are present in our lives is because of a fleshly gratification that comes from “letting people have it” when we have perceived that they’ve treated us badly. We don’t seem satisfied unless we’ve had the last word and put someone in their place. Or, just as badly, we give people the silent treatment to guilt and shame them into repentance. Either way, we’re trying to force people to eat the same fruit we’re eating, which is NOT the fruit of the Spirit.
So, in essence, either way you are going to have fruit in your life. You’ll either have human fruit that gratifies the dark side of your humanity, or you can have the fruit of the Spirit. To have human fruit in your life, just continue to do what you’re doing. You don’t really have to work at it, it just comes naturally. However, if you’d like more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit, follow his voice and those things will be there without you “working” on them.
Don’t let the circumstances of life lure you away from the Holy Spirit and the rich fruit he brings into your life. Remember, the fruit is there when the Holy Spirit is there.