My mouth watered as the aroma of coffee filled my nostrils. It was early morning. The house was quiet and dark. Early morning is my favorite part of the day. My mind is sharp, my body is most alive, my spirit rejoices in a new day. As my favorite coffee mug, marked with the words “But first Jesus” was filling up, my eyes darted around the kitchen. Low growls from my stomach signaled my eyes to the fruit bowl on the end of the counter. It was full. Beautiful bright yellow bananas lay neatly against ripe avocados. I smiled with relief. The fruit bowl was full. The fruit in the bowl was healthy and ready to be devoured. Too many times I rush in and out of the grocery store and forget the family fruit. Too many times I am not paying attention to the fruit in the bowl and it rots before enjoyment.
Not today though, the fruit was full and thriving.
As I carefully picked out the best looking yellow banana to enjoy with my morning coffee the Holy Spirit began convicting me. I was so excited about the fruit bowl being full and honestly proud of myself for keeping up with its goodness. The sweet conviction regarding my recent lack of concern with my spiritual fruit was blindingly clear.
Can I take a second and stake claim on God’s goodness—I LOVE moments like this. The Holy Spirit can and will use anything in our daily lives to continue to pursue us deeper. It’s not like I’d been running from the Lord or was hiding some secret sin or anything of the sort. But, if I’m being honest I hadn’t been living out the fruits of the spirit as of late. My mind went back to several moments in the past week. I was not gentle in my words toward my children—impatience won. I was not loving my husband the way I know the Lord’s Word instructs me to. My peace and joy wavered on my comfortability. When the house was too messy or chaotic I was not patient or kind. Don’t even get me started on when my plan for the day or week was interrupted—I did not act in a self-controlled manner. Without the manifestations of these fruits my spiritual fruit of faithfulness and goodness were buried.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” As this is true for the fruit sitting in our fruit bowls on our kitchen counters, the same notion can be applied to the spiritual fruits in our lives.
Galatians 5:22-24 speaks of the fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we’re not keeping step with the spirit in just one of these fruit bearing areas it affects the other fruits of the spirit. If I’m not meeting my family with patience, how am I loving them well? If I’m not loving them well, my joy will fade. Without my joy there will be no peace. Without peace there goes my self-control, gentleness, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. They’re all connected and intertwined.
It’s a war.
It’s a constant battle between our flesh and our spirit.
It’s an impossible battle to win on our own. Thank God we’re not alone in this pursuit of daily victory to bear the beautiful God glorifying ripe fruits of the spirit.
“But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17, ESV). Paul is laying it out in these scriptures the life long battle of keeping in step with the spirit. When we are in Christ we should be repulsed by the things of this world; “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies…and those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV).
I read this list and want to immediately put on my Pharisee cloak and holier than thou response of “that’s not me, I don’t do those things.” But then my best friend—Holy Spirit—comes knocking on my heart and gently nudges me to look in the mirror (spiritually speaking). My face reddens with embarrassment as I admit my battles with levels of idolatry—the need to fit in, the desire to be seen, the idolatry of self. I realize how I’ve allowed division in my home when being vulnerable feels too hard to do at times. Or what about scrolling through social media and envy arises when I see another woman’s perfect figure, glowing hair, or seemingly perfect life? What about that burst of anger I recently had in secret because something didn’t go my way?
When we shrug off these seemingly insignificant opponents of the spirit and character of God we can quickly become complacent. Our fruit begins to have a rotten spot. But our flesh argues that it’s just one rotted spot. We’re still good, it’s not that bad. So we continue in our anger, strife, jealousy or idolatry ways until before we know it all of the fruit in the bowl is full of rot and reeks of disgust.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24, ESV).
Those who belong to Christ Jesus…
These words excite my spirit and calms my over anxious flesh. I don’t have to figure it out on my own. I don’t have to strive in my own power to stay in step with the Spirit. I am in Christ. Paul writes about the spiritual blessing we have in Christ when we are in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:3-10, ESV).
What life giving news. Even though I know this truth, it still amazes me on the days when my flesh rages war on the Spirit and my steps may not align with the Spirit. I don’t have to stay in that place. You don’t have to stay in that place. We have a loving, big, Heavenly God who chose another way for us. We don’t have to succumb to a life of anger and confusion. We don’t have to question every aspect of our lives—surrender. Surrender the bad day, the intense season—ask Jesus into it. Ask Him to reveal Himself, to immerse Himself and change you from the inside out. The most exciting thing about having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the never-ending growth He pursues us to. We have much to rejoice about as children and heirs of Christ.
When my fruit bowl appears empty or I can sense rotted spots in my fruit (spiritually speaking)—I will keep running to the truth of God’s word. I pray you do the same my friend. I pray you surrender where you are and walk by the spirit, steadily and continuously putting to death the desires of the flesh and yielding beautiful God-glorifying fruit all the days of your life.
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.