Devotion for the Week...
I am not much of a gardener, though I would absolutely love to have a huge vegetable and fruit garden. On Saturday I planted some rhubarb from a neighbor who was dividing his, so now I have that to go along with the strawberries I've been growing for a few years. I'm also planning to put in some tomatoes, once it warms up enough. Around here it's not safe for such tender plants for another couple of weeks. Newfoundland has a very short growing season!
I've always wanted apple trees, but right now the yard is often used as a soccer field/football field/general running-around-with-friends-and-lightsabers field, so the apple trees will have to wait. Someday, though.
This week I'm starting a new devotion series. Rather than focusing on the fruit in my garden, we'll be focusing on the fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22,23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." This week is an introduction, and then each week, for the next nine weeks, I'll take an in-depth look at one of the character traits listed.
Love, joy, peace, forbearance (or patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All nine are traits that we admire in others, traits that we wish we had in more abundance, am I right? Well, Paul is telling us that these nine character traits can be ours if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. Earlier in the same chapter, he wrote, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want" (vv. 16,17).
It is not that we need to work harder to grow love, joy, peace, etc. in our lives. No, we need to walk by the Spirit, and as we do so we will begin to turn away from the things that are the opposite of these nine character traits. Walking by the Spirit means that we listen for the Spirit's prompting when we have decisions to make, even little decisions like "should I say this?" Even more importantly, we obey those promptings of the Spirit. I admit that there are times when I want to say something, but I feel like I shouldn't, but then I still say it anyway. That is not walking by the Spirit!
If we are willing to walk by the Spirit, then these nine character traits will grow in our lives. Interestingly, though, they are not nine different fruit! The Greek word used in the original is singular, meaning all nine character traits are part of one 'fruit' which is produced by the Holy Spirit in us. That means that if we want to be fruitful, we can't pick and choose which traits we will grow, allowing ourselves to show love, while refusing to also exhibit self-control, for example. Though obviously we can live like that, we are not then properly allowing the Spirit to grow His fruit in us.
There have been times when I've been picking strawberries and picked what looked like a perfect strawberry on one side, only to turn it around and discover the other side is still unripe, or has gone moldy or been eaten by bugs. Yuck! I only want to eat strawberries that are perfectly ripe and good all the way through. If we imagine the fruit of the Spirit as some exotic fruit with nine sides, then we want all nine sides to be equally ripe and free of mold!
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is the fruit I want in my life!
I hope you'll come back next week as we explore love :)