The Fruit of the Spirit is Love…
Bible Reading: Galatians 5:16-26
Spring is sprung! It’s almost time to start planting my garden! It takes a fair amount of work. There’s the planning of the layout, after that, the preparation of the soil, then the actual planting of seeds, or small plants. But that’s just the beginning, because what follows is the ongoing need to water and fertilize and deal with those dastardly weeds. The funny thing about weeds is they grow under any conditions. You don’t need to water, or fertilize them, they are inevitable and invulnerable. They serve to remind us of the curse God put on the ground as a result of sin (Genesis 3:18).
The deeds of the flesh spoken of in this passage are like weeds in the garden. That as-yet-unredeemed part of us, the flesh, is doomed to generate all sorts of sinful deeds. It’s an ugly list of all-to-common human behaviors (Galatians 5:19-21). The deeds listed are not only destructive when it comes to humans and their relationships, they are dishonoring to God and work to undermine a believer’s testimony. They are like weeds inasmuch as they inevitably crop up. Only by the Spirit can they be eradicated from the garden of our lives.
It is as we “walk by the Spirit” that the battle against the “desires of the flesh” is won and ugly deeds give way to the beautiful Christlike virtues listed in Galatians 5:22-23. The battle is not won by trying harder to be better, as if that’s something we could ever do. Putting off sin is something which can only be done by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). It is only as we walk by the Spirit that His fruit can be borne within us. To walk by the Spirit is to live in dependence upon the Spirit, allowing ourselves to be led and empowered by Him (Galatians 5:18). Though walking by the Spirit does not equate to practicing the spiritual disciplines (i.e. being in the Word, and in fellowship and devoted to prayer), the disciplines all play an important and necessary role. Amongst other things, a person who is walking by the Spirit is one who has the Word richly dwelling within and who is devoted to prayer.
S. Lewis Johnson commented on this: “The evidence of the leading of the Spirit lies in a cluster of nine virtues that make up “the fruit of the Spirit.” This fruit is the product of the life of the Spirit in the believer. It is characterized by several interesting features. First of all, in the fruit of the Spirit there is unity. We notice that the word, “fruit,” is in the singular number. There is only one fruit of the Spirit, but it contains nine virtues…Many commentators have suggested that the nine virtues illustrate the full-orbed, symmetrical character of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His life that the Spirit produces in the believer. Second, the fruit of the Spirit possesses a notable harmony, the first triad of virtues being inward in nature, the second, outward, and the third upward. Third, there is a necessity that believers have the fruit of the Spirit. The lack of the virtues indicates sin against the Holy Spirit who is engaged in producing the virtues in the lives of the saints.”
It follows that if we are to love like Jesus loves, it is essential that we be those who are walking by the Spirit. The chief ministry of the Spirit is to mediate the presence of Jesus to us, in us and through us (John 16:14). So, it is in the fruit He bears in our lives. How is your garden growing? There are lots of different kinds of weeds which could potentially work to hinder and undermine the beautiful work God intends to do in and through you (Galatians 5:19-21). As you walk by the Spirit that fruit borne by Him will produce in you a beautiful garden of Christlike virtues, virtues which will both bless you and bless others as You serve the Lord Jesus!
Sinful Deeds Grow Like Weeds, but By the Spirit Christlike Virtues Take their Place
Heavenly Father. Praise You for Your creative power and Your infinite wisdom displayed throughout the beauty of Your creation! Out of nothing You made it all. We think about our own lives and marvel at the love which has worked not only to redeem us from our sins, but to set in motion Your plan to conform us to the beautiful image of Your Son. But still we sin. Ugly deeds inevitably crop up in our lives. Forgive us! Thank You for your patient and enduring work in our lives. You’ve reminded us that the beautiful fruit of Christlike virtues are borne in us only as we walk by the Spirit. May we forever abandon all our foolhardy attempts to improve ourselves by trying harder to do better and instead depend fully on the Spirit, that He might have the freedom to bear in us the beautiful fruit of Christlikeness. To Your honor and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.