I’ve never been much good at identifying leaves. I think it’s fair to say I can only really recognise Oak and Maple leaves. When identifying trees my go to, is often to go with the fruit. A tree that has solid roots, will grow and will produce fruit, it is the fruit that identifies it and will often be of benefit to other people and animals (the squirrels eat a lot of the fruit in my mums garden). It is also the fruit that is then able to produce more trees and therefore more fruit.
Paul uses the metaphor of fruit when writing to the Church in Galatia. He talks about the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit. These are the actions that will identify us as Christians, but also that will plant seeds to enable others to develop fruit as well. According to Paul these fruits are
“But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful”
It’s quite a daunting list, but if we think about it in terms of fruit, then it becomes less daunting. After all, a tree doesn’t TRY to produce fruit, but the fruit is a result of having firm, strong roots, and receiving the light and rain it needs.
In the same way Paul wasn’t giving the Church a list of characteristics they should work on, but was telling them that if they planted their foundations in God, the belief of Jesus as the so of God, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, then these would be the fruit of that faith. People would see that fruit, and would plant similar roots.
The first of the list of fruits of the Spirit is love, because it is often seen as the most important. This isn’t because there is a hierarchy as such, but because it is through love that the other fruits come. Russell D. Moore said
“…We love one another, serve one another, help one another, and in so doing we see how God has equipped us to do so”
This shows again the idea of not having to try to develop the characteristics, but to build the roots, and then we will love, serve, and help. When we reflect on these actions we will then see how God has grown in us, through us, and how God has enabled us to reflect Him and His love in our lives.
Challenge: what are the roots and fruits at school and at home and how can you help them to grow?
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you don’t tell us what we need to do, but that you allow us to grow and develop in you. Help us to plant firm roots, and to know how to nurture them that we may grow the fruit of your spirit. Amen