We have a strawberry bed in our garden. Actually this year, the only thing we have in our garden is a strawberry bed. And the only reason we have a strawberry bed this year is because our plants are perennials and I didn’t have to do anything to get them started.
Almost every day one of my kids asks to go and check the strawberries. He dutifully takes a bowl and searches our little plot for delicious, red berries, bursting with flavor.
The thing is, strawberries don’t just pop onto the vine ready to pick.
First there is a flower that gets pollinated. The bud begins to swell into a small green sphere. Over time the shape and size change, seeds cover the outside, and gradually the color changes from green to white to orange to red. And with enough time, the redness deepens, the berry softens, ever so slightly, and a delicious scent rises from it’s surface begging my son to draw near and taste.
None of this happens if a berry is prematurely removed from the vine.
The fruit of the Spirit is like that.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Like strawberries, I develop slowly (too slowly for my liking, at times). I don’t just pop into life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. First I grow in patience, then I grow in kindness. As goodness swells, self-control begins to emerge. Faithfulness might come before peace. And love does not stand alone, but must be accompanied by gentleness and joy.
Together they are the aroma that begs others to draw near. Together they are the culmination of learning to yield to the Spirit and receive nourishment from the vine. No one characteristic is a ripened fruit. No single trait shows my heart is ripe in the Spirit. It is a package deal. All of them are vital characteristics of a mature Christian, with seeds mature enough to start new plants.
It is only when I remain attached to the vine, that my life ripens into something capable of drawing others to taste and see that the Lord is good.